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How to Train Climbing Roses in 6 Easy Steps

Growing climbing roses is a great way to provide vertical interest in your yard. Having roses grow up a wall or over a trellis can turn your landscape into a dreamy space reminiscent of an English garden. Climbing roses will grow on several different structures, and what once was a blank space will become full of foliage and color.

How to Train Climbing Roses

I’ve outlined all the basics of how to train climbing roses, so you can get the most out of your rose. Let’s dive in!

Different Structures to Support Climbing Roses

How to Train Climbing Roses

Trellis

When it comes to how to train climbing roses, you’ll likely want to invest in a trellis. Trellises are an inexpensive way to give climbing roses a structure to grow on. They are typically made of wood, metal, or PVC, and they can be rectangular or fan-shaped. Make sure to get a sturdy trellis as roses can be heavy.

When thinking of how to train climbing roses, consider the space you have. A typical trellis is only about six to eight feet tall. If you don’t want your climbing rose to grow very tall, a trellis is a good option. 

Some climbing roses can grow very tall, so along with a trellis, you will want to choose a climbing rose that doesn’t grow above eight to ten feet.

Arbor

Arbors are another good option for supporting climbing roses. Arbors go perfectly over sidewalks, and they make the most dreamy entrance to a garden! Similar to trellises, you can find arbors made of wood, metal, or vinyl. You can even purchase some arbors that have benches made into the middle.

With arbors, you can plant two different types of climbing roses on each side and watch them grow into one another. You can also let one rose grow all the way over the arbor if you don’t have space on the other side to plant something else.

Wall

If you have a brick or stone wall that needs some character, learning how to train climbing roses to grow across it will give the most visual interest.

A good idea to support the climbing rose is to install anchors with hooks in the wall to tie the rose canes to. You can also install a rectangle fence or trellis onto the wall for the rose to attach to.

What You’ll Need

How to Train Climbing Roses

Before you master how to train climbing roses, you’ll need the proper supplies. Let’s go over what you’ll want to have:

  • Gloves
  • Sharp Pruning Shears
  • Support Structure of Choice
  • Climbing Rose Bush
  • Jute Twine or Flexible Garden Twist Ties

Steps to Training Climbing Roses

How to Train Climbing Roses

Install Structure to Support the Rose

Before you plant your climbing rose bush, install the structure you chose to support your climbing rose. Some structures can be installed if the rose is already established. Just be careful not to disturb the roots of the bush.

To install a trellis or arbor, measure out where you want the trellis to go. Using post-hole diggers, create holes for the trellis base to go into. Fill the bottom of the holes with gravel.

Set the trellis into the holes and fill around the post with a dirt and gravel mixture. If your trellis or arbor is very heavy-duty, you can also backfill the hole with concrete for extra support.

Plant Rose

Dig a hole for your rose that is twice as wide as the root ball. The hole should be around 12 to 24-inches away from the trellis, but it should be close enough that the rose doesn’t have a hard time attaching to the trellis. Plant the rose into the hole and backfill the hole with the previously-removed soil.

For more information on planting and caring for your climbing rose, read this post.

Identify the Main Canes

This is where the fun in how to train climbing roses begins! Unfortunately, it could be two to three years after you plant the rose before you can move on with this step. It all depends on the maturity and size of the rose.

You want to be able to identify the main canes before you begin to train your climbing roses. It can be helpful to just let the rose grow how it wants for the first year, then begin training it the next year. Only remove any dead wood during this time.

The main canes will be the larger branches that grow directly from the roots, and these are the branches that the climbers will grow off of. Select the strongest four to six main canes, and prune the rest back to the roots.

Fasten Branches to the Structure

You will want to attach all the main canes to the support structure. You can do this using jute twine or flexible garden twist ties. Just make sure not to use anything too hard or sharp that will constrict the main canes. This could cause damage and inhibit growth.

If the main canes do not reach the structure initially, you can train them to bend toward the trellis or arbor throughout the growing season by slowly bending them. Don’t force them over, as you could snap the branch. You’ll definitely need your gloves for this part, so you don’t get stuck!

Every year, look over the rose, and reattach any ties around the main canes that have come loose.

Allow Climbers to Grow

Climbers or secondary main canes will grow from the main branches. Shaping these branches will help give you your desired shape and direction of growth. Tuck smaller climbing branches into other branches or the support structure. Larger climbers can be secured with the same twine you used on the main canes.

Prune Unwanted Branches

It’s important to prune climbing roses just like you prune other rose bushes. This encourages growth for the other healthy branches. With climbing roses, you’ll need to identify whether you have a repeat-blooming rose or a once-blooming (spring-blooming) rose.

Repeat-blooming roses will be pruned in late winter before the rose puts off new buds. Once-blooming roses bloom on old growth, so wait to prune them until after the first flush of blooms in springtime.

Prune out any old or unwanted branches. If the rose cane looks like it’s not productively producing any growth, remove it to make energy for the other branches to produce foliage and blooms.

Why a Climbing Rose Might Not Be Climbing

How to Train Climbing Roses

Most roses that aren’t climbing properly are due to untrained branches. That’s why it’s important to learn how to train climbing roses. If your climbing rose is out of control, don’t worry. You can still salvage it.

Prune away any crazy, unwanted branches until you can get to the main canes. The main canes may even need to be pruned all the way back to establish room for better growth. Once the main canes have grown large enough to reach, fasten them to your support structure and follow all the tips above on how to train climbing roses.

FAQ

How to Train Climbing Roses

1. Can I train any type of rose to climb?

Learning how to train climbing roses is different than training other roses. While you can shape and mold other roses, their growth habit is not the same as climbing roses.

Roses such as hybrid tea roses and floribunda roses grow into a shrub shape and don’t have a habit to grow tall and trail. When shopping, make sure that the rose specifies that it is a climbing rose.

2. Can climbing roses support themselves?

Climbing roses that don’t have support nearby will usually just grow out and flop to the ground. It’s important to consider the fact that you will need a support before even purchasing a climbing rose. The two go hand in hand!

3. Can climbing roses grow from a container?

Yes! It’s actually a good idea if you’re wanting the rose to climb a wall that doesn’t have a flower bed in front of it. Whether it be a business with a paved parking lot or on your back patio, having a container climbing rose could change the game!

First, you’ll need to select a climbing rose that will not need to root out very far. You’ll also need to purchase a large planter to plant the rose in. I recommend a pot with good drainage that’s made from concrete or another sturdy material.

4. Can I intertwine other climbing plants with a climbing rose?

Yes, you can. Flowering vines can be planted near climbing roses and allowed to intertwine together. If you do this, it’s important to choose a vine that won’t smother out your climbing rose. You also want to stay on top of pruning, so one plant doesn’t choke out the other.

A good climber to combine with a rose might be clematis since they bloom at different times of the season.

Wrapping Up How to Train Climbing Roses

Do you need vertical interest in your garden? Climbing roses will achieve that interest along with adding so much beauty. Once you learned how to train climbing roses, you can add even more roses to your space!

Do you want to learn more about other types of rose bushes? Visit our other posts about roses for more information.