How to Care for & Prune Climbing Roses


New Dawn, Don Juan, and Iceberg are just a few of the tantalizing names of America's favorite climbing roses. With strong, lithe canes that effortlessly scale any strong structure, these arbor dwellers are the romantic gardeners favorite show piece. Available in hybrids derived from popular bush varieties, such as Climbing Peace, or bloomers that flower multiple times during the season like Joseph's Coat, there is a stunning array of colors, bloom sizes, and forms available. Follow care and maintenance procedures specific to roses and climbing varieties, and you too can enjoy a summer under an arching rose canopy.

Step 1

Choose a planting site with excellent drainage in full sun. Climbing roses require a structure sturdy enough to hold their weight as the canes reach upward. A trellis, an arbor, or even a fence or wall may serve as a support if the canes can be secured to them. Materials that are weather resistant are the best choice for support structures, such as cedar or redwood, treated metals, or other synthetic plant safe options.

Step 2

Prepare the climbing rose bed by adding up to 4 inches of organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, to the surface of the bed. Cultivate the organic matter into the soil to a depth of 12 inches for improved drainage and soil nutrients over time.

Step 3

Plant climbing roses in the spring. Remove container grown roses carefully from the grower's pot and loosen the roots around the ball. Dig a hole 1 1/2 feet wide and 1 foot deep. Set the root ball carefully in the hole. Bare root climbing roses should be kept with roots immersed in water 24 hours prior to planting time. Create a small hill in the base of the hole, gently spreading the roots over the hill. Backfill both rose types, tamping lightly as you go, and mound the soil up around the base of the climber.

Step 4

Add a 3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as pine needles, around but not touching the base of the rose and over the surrounding bed. Mulch retains moisture, deters weeds, and protects roots from the harsh sun.

Step 5

Water well after planting over the roots rather than the foliage, and keep soil moist throughout the growing season. Climbing roses require extra water, which will be evident if leaves begin to drop, growing halts or wilting occurs. Over watering can also cause growth issues, which will manifest in yellow tinged lower leaves. Continue deep, regular watering of your climbing rose until the first frost sets in.

Step 6

Prune your climbing rose in early spring, as flowers bloom on current season growth, also known as new wood. Remove weak, gray, or dead canes just above ground level. Use sharp, scissor style pruners and disinfect tools if working with diseased foliage. Use a simple mixture of equal parts bleach and water.

Step 7

Fertilize twice during the growing season, once at planting time and once again after the first bloom for re-blooming species. Apply fertilizer to wet ground and water well after each application if using granule style fertilizer, or apply a liquid blend following manufacturer instructions for whichever you choose. Avoid over fertilization which can burn the plant and roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Climbing rose
  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears
  • Fertilizer
  • Organic compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Bleach mixture


  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Growing Roses
  • Ohio State University Extension, Fact Sheet: Fertilizing, Pruning, and Winterizing Roses
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Pruning Roses- Hybrid Tea, Shrub, Climbing & Rambling

Who Can Help

  • Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Climbing Roses
Keywords: climbing roses care, pruning climbing roses, climbing roses tips

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.