Climbing roses are varieties that produce branches, called "canes," from 15 to 30 feet in length. They are often trained over arbors, fences, on the side of walls or on a trellis. The rose blooms vary from old fashioned, with abundant loose-style petals, to small and dainty flowers. Some varieties are chosen for their fragrant flowers. Climbing roses need the typical rose care but also have several special needs.
Basic Rose Care
Roses like to be planted in good garden loam that is not too claylike and not too sandy. Use good organic compost, readily available from your nursery or by mail order. The rich nutrients of compost are released gradually into the soil. A new rose plant may be fertilized with additional compost once every two weeks. Once established, side-dress with compost monthly. Old roses can be watered deeply once every two weeks.
Climbing roses need different treatment in pruning. Do not prune for the first two to three years, allowing the plant and canes to become strong. In early spring of the third year, prune all but several structural canes. Cut each cane back to 3 to 4 inches long. As they grow, these canes can be woven through a trellis or wire support. Branches with flower blooms grow from these structural canes.
The best pest control is good plant care and constant attention. Healthy soil is the first line of defense against pests and disease, followed by clean maintenance habits. Always pick off diseased flowers and leaves and rake away unwanted refuge. Pests are attracted to neglected flower beds. If aphids become a problem, you can blast them with a strong spray of water. You can also use "good bugs" such as ladybugs and green lacewings to control aphids.
Training Your Climbers
Climbing roses add elegance and classic beauty to a garden.They are often called romantic roses. They can be trained to grow on the side of a house by using wire supports or a trellis. Some climbing roses grow onto trees, creating a wild, casual look. Long empty walls and fences are perfect for the 15- to 25-foot branches and abundant blossoms. Trellis arbors come in many shapes and sizes. Check your local garden center for a design that suits your landscape.
Climbing Rose Varieties
'Rose Red Eden' is an old-fashioned, bright red climbing rose with lots of fragrance. 'Social Climber' and 'High Society' both have pink flowers of medium size. For daintier pink flowers choose 'Cecile Brunner' but remember that it can easily climb to 30 feet. Two beautiful antique white roses are 'Sombreuil' and 'Mermaid.' English climbing roses are sometimes called "heirloom" and include favorites such as 'Alchymist' and 'Climbing James,' both full-petaled pinks.