Climbing roses: care measures to promote lush blooms & disease resistance


I study plant biotechnology and often find myself confronted with the serious consequences that lack of knowledge and misinformation can have for nature. That is why I am so passionate about bringing people and nature closer together again.

Favourite fruit: raspberries, strawberries and pineapple
Favourite vegetables: courgettes, broccoli and cucumbers

Climbing roses can enhance any garden with their irrepressible abundance of flowers. But this requires proper care, to enable the climbing roses to flower abundantly.

roses growing on wooden archway
Climbing roses bring beauty to archways [Photo: Sergey V Kalyakin/]

Roses (Rosa) have been extremely popular flowers for many years. When caring for your climbing roses, the main focus is not on fertilising and watering, but on tying up and pruning. After all, despite the name, the plants do not climb and twist by themselves. They do not have classic holding organs, but are spreading climbers. To ensure that the growth is successful and that as many flowers as possible are produced, you need to give it a good helping hand.

Watering climbing roses

Even before planting, the roses will have their first contact with water. Water the rose for several hours before planting to avoid drought stress later. Watering is even more frequent during the growing season. Once the long roots have penetrated the soil, watering is only necessary after long periods of drought. You then water the plants in the morning or evening, but never in the blazing midday sun. Also, water from the bottom, which reduces the likelihood of fungal attack on the leaves. After a heavy rainfall or a generous load of irrigation water, the soil may have compacted. Do your climbing roses a favour by carefully loosening the soil. This allows more air to get to the roots again.

watering can beside rose bush
Roses only need water when growing and during dry periods [Photo: nnattalli/]

Fertilising climbing roses: how and how often?

Freshly planted climbing roses are fertilised after the first flowering, when they have grown properly. Once the plant is established in the garden, fertilise once in early April and a second time in late June after flowering. This involves loosening the soil around the roots and carefully incorporating the fertiliser. Later in the year, fertiliser is not applied, to allow the newly formed shoots to mature before winter. Particularly for freshly planted climbing roses, avoid mineral fertilisers and use organic versions instead. Synthetic fertiliser is made from minerals that basically have been chemically altered. Production is resource intensive and rapid nutrient release can lead to over–fertilisation and disease susceptibility. So it is better to switch to organic fertilisers right away. Because roses, with their imposing flowers, consume an incredible amount of nutrients, there are special rose fertilisers adapted to the needs of these elegant plants. Our Plantura Rose Food is one of these rose fertilisers with long–term effect. This provides your climbing roses with all the essential nutrients and is also gentle on the environment.

Rose Food, 1.5kg
Rose Food, 1.5kg
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  • For beautifully flowering roses in pots & flower beds
  • Prevents common rose diseases & ensures healthy growth
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Pruning climbing roses and keeping them in shape

Because climbing roses do not grow into the desired shape by sheer force of thought, the queen of flowers must be regularly pruned and its growth must be directed in the right directions. Therefore, your climbing rose needs to be shaped. To do this, regularly pull new shoots onto the climbing aid. Depending on the trellis used, the shoots are placed around the trellis in a spiral, fan or cross shape. The shoots are loosely attached with raffia, planting chips or rubber–coated wire. When shaping, the more horizontal the plant grows afterwards, the more flowers can be admired later. If the colourful climbers just grow straight up to the sky, the lower area becomes bare, because the flowers only form at the top.

When to prune climbing roses?

Shaping alone does not make an imposing flowering rose arch. Proper pruning is critical for flowering shoots and a healthy plant, especially with multiple–flowering varieties. Here, the side shoots are shortened to two to five buds. The cut is made at an angle and is made about five millimetres above an outward growing bud. This should be done once a year to encourage branching and flowering. What time of year to cut depends on how often the rose variety blooms in the year.

  • Spring (more frequently flowering climbing roses): cut back side shoots; remove 1 – 2 main shoots per year; remove winter damage.
  • Autumn (once flowering climbing roses): Clean out after flowering and cut back side shoots only if necessary.
climbing rose with many flowers
How you prune climbing roses will impact their bloom [Photo: ajisai13/]

Spring pruning is carried out only when there is no longer a danger of frost. You can use the forsythia as a guide. When these yellow blossoms sprout in the garden, you can risk doing the spring pruning. When pruning in the autumn, be sure to cut away only what is necessary. Otherwise, if the plant gets frost in the winter, there will not be much left in the spring. After pruning, remaining shoots are pulled over the vine support and fastened.

But it is not just annual pruning that is important. Regular cleaning out of wilted flowers also promotes long flowering. In addition, wild shoots of the wild rose rootstock are removed close to the roots. This prevents them from overgrowing the elegant rose.

Note: Bare root roses should be shortened to about 50 cm before planting.

Overwintering climbing roses

At the base of the climbing rose, soil is piled for protection from cold weather and drying in the autumn. In addition, you can use a willow mat to protect the bottom two metres. The rose is wrapped with it and is protected from the wind and sun. Shoots that overhang the whole thing are covered with burlap. With hardy varieties such as ‘Amadeus’ or ‘Laguna’, there’s no need for the extra protection. Half hardy varieties such as ‘Rosanna’ or ‘Aloha’ will require the extra protection.

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