Climbers produce soft flexible stems and depending on the variety they may reach 3-5 metres high. Very pretty when grown over a pergola or trained up against a wall or fencing. A climbing rose takes sup little space and is therefore ideal for the smaller garden or on the patio.
Planting and training your climber
The primary condition for planting a climbing rose is that it needs somewhere stable for it to attach to, like a pergola, wall or fence. The branches of the climber are not vines and neither do they have suckers to help them climb and hold themselves. So always plant your climber next to a wall, fence, tree or climbing frame such as a pergola, so you can tie it in as it grows. Your climbing rose prefers a warm place in full sun. If planting up against a wall, leave a space of about 30-40 cm to allow sufficient air circulation around your rose.
Plant your climbing rose as soon as possible upon receipt – follow these simple instructions.
- Dig a large plant hole
- Plant the rose with the grafting point sloping in the direction of the climbing frame – this will encourage the plant to at least grow up against it
- Spread the plant’s roots outwards into a fan shape
- Improve the quality of the soil you dug out by adding a mix of rose fertiliser and/or well-rotted manure
- Use the improved soil to fill the hole above the roots
- Water your climbing rose generously to help the soil settle around the roots
- Spread the main branches over the wall or fencing
- Train the rose’s side shoots horizontally as best you can
- Tie each branch carefully in to the support frame as soon as it has grown long enough
Maintenance and pruning
You won’t need to prune your climbing roses for the first 2 or 3 years. You only need to tie up young shoots, wherever possible horizontally. These then become new main side shoots. Horizontal main side shoots eventually encourage the growth of flowering side shoots. Allow several main stems to grow vertically until the desired height is reached.
From year three, you can cut back all side shoots from the main side shoots to 2-3 ‘eyes’ (buds). Use the proper pruning shears. You need to ‘replace’ the main stem every 4-5 years by rejuvenating it – just cut it back to 30-40 cm above the ground. Don’t be afraid you’ll be left with just a short plant – it will be just as big because you will be leaving the main shoots.
Combining climbing roses with other plants
Climbing roses look fabulous combined with other climbers. One classic combination is the red climbing rose ‘Santana’ with Clematis and Honeysuckle. Or if you want a really dreamy look try Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia Australis), white foxglove (Digitalis) and the white climbing rose ‘Indigoletta’.
Between the climbing roses you can create a border with flowering plants such as the peony, lavender, lady’s mantle and catnip. Don’t forget bulbs for in the summer, like dahlias and gladioli.