Mastering The Art Of Climbing Roses


When healthy and happy, climbing roses can transform any wall, fence or trellis into a work of art – so what can gardeners do to keep them in tip top shape?

What we refer to as a rose, is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa. It’s in the family Rosaceae, and there are over three hundred different rose species, and tens of thousands of cultivars. Roses form a group of plants that are often erect shrubs, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. 

Of the three hundred plus varieties that provide gardeners with a fragrant and colourful bloom, one of the most popular species are the trailing and climbing roses. When compared to other traditional shrub varieties of roses, although climbing roses are genetically identical, the longer canes for ‘climbing’ are thought to be thanks to a series of spontaneous mutations triggered by the growth patterns linked to their environment. 

Often regarded as one of the most fragrant flower varieties, climbing roses aren’t actually half as temperamental to grow as most gardening enthusiasts tend to think. Most climbing roses can grow anywhere between two to six metres tall, and exhibit repeat blooming if they are happy with the soil and sun conditions. However, it’s the responsibility of gardeners to ensure that they are well prepared for the rapid growth of climbing roses, as they require the right support in order for them to truly blossom. 

How To Keep Climbing Roses Happy

Unlike true climbing plants such as wisteria, climbing roses lack tendrils that can wrap around support structures to lend strength to the plant as it grows toward the sun. As a result, climbing roses can quickly wind up with long, gangly-looking canes and few blooms. While this growth habit can be perfectly healthy, it’s usually not the ‘look’ that gardeners want when they had envisioned the thick, blooming varieties spotted on Instagram or in magazines. 

Ultimately, caring for climbing roses involves a combination of methods. Gardeners should aim to provide the same standard of care that they would normally apply to growing traditional rose bush varieties, while also ensuring that a physical support structure is in place like they would for other climbing plant species. For the latter, there are usually two different options. 

One of the most common ways to train any plant, but especially so for climbing roses, is by using a trellis. For those hoping for cascades of blooms on an outer wall or pergola, start by installing the rose trellis at least ten centimetres away from the area where you want your climbing roses to inch up. As your plants will grow, tie the stems of the climbing rose to the trellis with stretchy plastic plant tape, and avoid the urge to prune until the plant covers the entire trellis. 

As your climbing roses begin to get comfortable, gently bend some of the new canes so that they grow outwards as a means to cover more of the trellis. If branches are growing too thick, snip them back as you go. Always aim to remove the weak canes so that the plant can focus strength into a few strong main canes as the core growth system. To encourage more form and stronger growth, always try to cut away faded flowers or spent blooms. 

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Climbing roses contain a hormone that inhibits the growth of more than one bloom per cane. For the plant, this is a strategy that works well, as it ensures that the rose won’t invest unnecessary energy on creating more blooms. Unfortunately for gardeners, long canes with just one bloom are fairly unattractive, and aren’t exactly in line with their vision for a full floral wall. 

As such, self-pegging is a simple process done by arching the long canes of climbing roses, and tying them at the base of the plant. By doing so, gardeners are using gravity to inhibit the movement of the hormone, leading to the production of as many as thirty clusters of flowers on the same cane. At the same time, gardeners also prevent the climbing rose from spreading into other areas where it’s not supposed to climb. 

To start self pegging your climbing roses, select the strongest four to six canes on the plant. Gently bend each of these canes into a loop, so that the top of the cane meets the base of the rose plant. Secure the tips to the base of each cane using plastic gardeners tape, with the tip ideally being around five centimetres from the base. When all of the longer canes have been self-pegged, prune mid-sized canes and tuck them into the cage created by the longer self-pegged canes. Take care during this process though, as self pegging only works if your climbing roses have supple canes that can bend without breaking.

As with any rose, disease prevention is the key to strong, healthy and happy plants. Make sure to clean up any old leaf debris so not to encourage any pests or weeds. Airflow and sunlight is  also paramount in fungus prevention, along with ensuring that your soil is in tip top shape as a means to provide your climbing roses with all the nutrients that they need in the long term. 

Optimising Your Soil For Climbing Roses

Do your plants – and yourself – a favour, and give them a head start by optimising your soil prior to planting. By adding a natural plant food like Biotic Booster, this will help your garden to: 

  • Provide essential nutrients and microbes 
  • Act as a liquid fertiliser to unlock your soil’s potential 
  • Drought proof your plants and lower water consumption
  • Increase and speed up the germination process
  • Assist in protecting your plants from pests and diseases 
  • Provide an organic solution that’s safe to use around your herbs, fruit and veggies

If you’re ready to take the leap into improving the health of your plants while minimising the use of chemical based fertilisers this Spring, then it may be time to try a plant food and plant probiotics. Our Ultimate Garden Health Pack includes our Biotic Booster, FP-60 Probiotic Spray, RE-250 Soil Energiser. In each concentrated bottle, millions of natural bacterias are waiting to find a new home in your garden.

Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including herbicides, plant food, garden probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your garden or even what to plant in Spring, get in touch with us today.