Climbing roses on fences


How to plant a potted climbing rose


By following these simple steps, you will ensure your potted climbing rose gets off to the best possible start.

What you’ll need

Here’s what you’ll need to plant your rose:



Watering can

Well-rotted manure

David Austin’s Mycorrhizal Fungi (not available in all states)

Step 1 – Re-hydrate rose

Before removing your rose from its pot, water it generously.

Step 2 – Prepare the soil

Using a fork, dig the soil over thoroughly and remove any weeds or stones. This will ensure that the new roots can venture freely in their new environment.

Step 3 – Dig the hole

Dig a hole that is wide enough and deep enough to hold the rose’s root mass. This should be approximately 20″ wide and 20″ deep or approximately twice the width of the pot and just a little deeper. If your aim is to train your climbing rose to grow up a wall or frame, make sure you dig your hole directly against the structure.

Step 4 – Break the soil at base of hole

Using a fork, break up the soil at the base of the hole. This will allow the roots to go deeper into the soil.

Step 5 – Add well-rotted manure

Mix a small spadeful of well-rotted farmyard manure with the soil in the bottom of the hole. This will add vital nutrients to the soil helping the rose to establish more effectively. If you can’t source manure from a local farmer, your nearest garden center will offer something similar.

Step 6 – Apply David Austin’s Mycorrhizal Fungi

Sprinkle the recommended amount of Mycorrhizal Fungi around the sides and the bottom of the planting hole. This will aid root development.

Step 7 – Position your rose in the hole

Carefully remove the rose from its pot and position in the center of the hole. If planting against a wall, angle the stems pointing towards the wall and the roots away from the wall, at a 45 degree angle. Place a bamboo cane horizontally across the top of the hole to judge if the planting depth is correct. The soil mass around the roots of the rose should be just below the bamboo cane or 2-3” below ground level in cold winter areas.

Step 8 – Backfill soil

Fill in and around the rose using the soil that was originally dug to make the hole.

Step 9 – Firm-in

Lightly firm the soil around the rose with your foot to ensure that the rose is secure and that there are no air pockets in the soil.

Step 10 – Water

Water the rose well after planting. For tips on how much water your rose needs .

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses give height, floral interest and elegance to a garden. They can tumble over fences, cascade from pergolas or screen water tanks and dunnies.

Yet roses are not natural climbers like grape vines or clematis; they need to be supported and loosely tied in place. I prefer green nylon ribbon over twist ties, which can injure expanding canes. Here are some of my favourite ways with climbing roses.

Wall or fence

‘Crepuscule’ has been trained on wires to cover the front wall of a cottage. Use fencing wire, stretched taught between tensioned screws fixed into the wall or fence and spaced 200mm apart. Use roses that flower on short spurs; vigorous varieties will be impossible to control. As the rose grows the main canes should be bent horizontal (while stems are soft and pliable) and fixed to the wires. Once the structure is established, side shoots will produce masses of buds. Pruning is easy; just clip the side shoots back to the main stem after flowering.

Wall of Crepescule trained over the guest quarters at The Heritage. Photo – Sandra Ross

Arbours and arches

Ensure an arch or arbour is big enough to walk through comfortably, at least 2m wide. Plant one rose on each side, preferably the same variety. Choose roses that are not too vigorous and twine the stems around the uprights in a spiral. Prune wayward stems at any time. Main pruning is after flowering. Every few years prune out the oldest cane at the base and allow a new water-shoot to replace it. The rose shown here is ‘Shropshire Lad’, a versatile David Auston climber, almost thornless and well-suited to growing on a small arch.

Pierre de Ronsard archway at Al-Ru Farm. . Photo – Sandra Ross


Used to enhance a walkway, a colonnaded pergola can dominate a garden when dressed in roses. For the best floral display twine stems in a spiral fashion around the pillars and allow growth to proliferate over the ‘roof’ of the pergola. Use clothes pegs as weights to prevent canes growing vertically out the top and to encourage more flower. Here ‘Mme Gregoire Staechelin’ (syn ‘Spanish Beauty’), shows that even though she has just one flowering in spring, it is massive – and well worth waiting for!

Rose arches at The Heritage, Clare Valley. Photo – Sandra Ross

Pillars and posts

Pillars of roses punctuate the garden providing a strong vertical accent. Train canes around pillars and posts in a spiral and tie them into position. Train the canes horizontally to encourage lots of side shoots for best flowering. Stems that are fixed flower better than those that blow in the wind. Small climbers are best for tripods, posts and pillars. A lamp post, stanchion of a bird house or bird feeder post, even a fluted veranda column can support a pretty climbing rose. Shown here is the hybrid musk rose ‘Cornelia’.

A rose pillar. Photo – Sandra Ross

Chain/ or rope swag

The idea here is to train the stems horizontally along the rope or chain swag to encourage floriferous side shoots. Because flexibility is most important, the stems must be young and pliable: rambling roses, such as ‘Veilchenblau’, shown here, are ideal. Bend and train the young soft canes horizontally and tie them in with soft twine. All stems which have flowered should be cut to ground level in winter leaving the new ones to be wound around the ropes as they grow in spring.

The secret to success

Train and prune to encourage side shoots. Train the main canes of the rose horizontally, across rather than straight up. This may mean a ladder effect, ‘across and back’. It is best to tie or clip the canes to the support, rather than weave; this makes it easier to prune back dead canes.

Plant notes: Sandra’s 5 favourite climbers

1. Mme Isaac Periere

Description: Huge, deep rose pink blooms, sometimes cupped, sometimes quartered, always fabulous.

Size: Vigorous shrub or small climber with canes 2m long

Special Comments: Best trained around a pillar. If grown as a shrub, peg the canes down to the ground. It’s said that this old Bourbon is the most fragrant of all roses: a brave claim with so many choices. In warm areas give her some cool shade. Prone to black spot in warm humid climates.

Photo – Sandra Ross

2. New Dawn

Description: Great for an arbour, arch, pillar or pergola with the palest cameo-pink blooms. A huge spring flowering is followed by a smattering of blooms in autumn. The lovely deep green foliage, provides a good foil for the blooms.

Size: The stems will grow to 6m, pliable enough to be used in any garden design; arbour, arch, pergola or pillar.

Special comments: Tough, disease-resistant and fragrant, New Dawn deserves its spot in the World Rose Hall of Fame!

3. Crepuscule

Description: This popular old Noisette has masses of small muddled ‘soft-gold’ coloured blooms, in repeat fragrant flushes through spring, summer and autumn. It can be grown on wires along a fence, or over a pergola.

Size: Moderate growth makes suitable as a tall weeping standard (grafted at 3m).

Special comments: Well-suited to warm areas, this rose is virtually thornless, very floriferous and flowers quite well in shade. Don’t prune for the first years until growth is well established and then only if necessary and after main spring flush. Very tough and disease-resistant.

4. Graham Thomas

Description: A clear buttercup yellow rose with full multi-petalled cupped blooms and lovely fragrance. One of David Austin’s finest!

Size: Moderate vigour makes this rose suitable for a pillar, fence or pegged down as a shrub.

Special comments: Train the canes horizontally for better flowering. Susceptible to black spot disease in warm climates.

5. Pierre de Ronsard

Description: Pale green buds open to form ivory petals with a pale pink blush. The blooms repeat flower through early summer and late autumn. Prune ruthlessly in winter to extend flowering from spring right through to June.

Size: Moderate growth with canes to 2-3m long

Special comments: Suitable for a wall or fence where the strong branching shoots can spread out, or it can be trained up a tall pillar, or grown with support as a shrub. It is almost thornless and has large, bright green glossy leaves.

Text: Sandra Ross

Training Roses On A Fence & The Best Roses For Fences

By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District

Do you have some fence lines on your property that need some beautification and you are not quite sure what to do with them? Well, how about using some roses to add beautiful foliage and color to those fences? Training roses on a fence is easy and beautiful.

How to Grow Roses on a Fence

Roses on Chain Link Fences

For tall chain link fences, attach a climbing rose to the fence to help hide the fence and add beauty to it. Plant the climbing rose bushes up close to the fence to grow up the fence easily and use it for support. Space the climbing rose bushes out at 6 to 7 foot intervals along the fence, as this gives them room to grow and spread out their long canes.

The long canes can be supported and trained by tying them off to the chain link fence. Be sure to keep the canes tied off in the directions you want them to go, as it will not take long for the canes to grow out of control, thus making a beautiful flow of blooms on the trained canes very difficult to achieve.

Roses on Privacy Fences

Climbers may be used on the privacy type wooden pickets and support rails fences also. To train, support and tie off the canes for these fences use nails or screws long enough to go through the wooden pickets and into the wooden support rails for the fence. The weight of the long canes with full foliage and blooms will soon become too heavy for any fastener that is only anchored to the wooden pickets in the fence, thus the fastener will pull out, sometimes splitting the picket.

Roses on Picket Fences

For wooden picket fences, shrub roses can fit the need as well. Planting some shrub roses such as the Knock Out family of roses, some David Austin English type shrub roses or some other type of shrub rose can really spruce things up beautifully. The shrub roses do not need the fence for actual support but rather their strong canes grow up along it and out from it to make beautiful blooming works of art.

I would suggest planting the shrub roses out away from the fence line approximately 2 to 3 feet. This will allow the shrub rose to grow up into well-formed full rose bushes. A row of pink blooming Mary Rose David Austin rose bushes can be very beautiful as well as filling the air around them with their wonderful fragrance. Or perhaps a fence line bordered by some Crown Princess Margareta shrub rose bushes with their beautiful deep golden apricot blooms not to mention the fragrance of her blooms as well. Makes one smile just thinking about it doesn’t it?

Roses on Split Rail Fences

Split rail and shorter fence lines can be beautifully dressed up with floribunda rose bushes planted alongside them at 30- to 36-inch spacing. Alternating red and yellow blooming rose bushes or pink and white rose bushes can make for a gorgeous sight. I have seen split rail fence lines with red Knock Out or Winnipeg Parks rose bushes planted nearly under the bottom rail. The bushes grow up and around the bottom rail as well as engulfing the top rail(s) making for a particularly beautiful border to the yard they are in.

Best Roses for Fences

Here are a few roses that I can recommend for fence line beautification:

  • Betty Boop Rose – Floribunda Rose
  • Climbing Iceberg Rose
  • Crimson Cascade Rose
  • Crown Princess Margareta Rose – David Austin Shrub Rose
  • Golden Showers Climbing Rose
  • Great Wall Rose – Easy Elegance Rose (Photo)
  • Hope for Humanity Shrub Rose
  • Knock Out Roses – (Any Knock Out rose)
  • Little Mischief Rose – Easy Elegance Rose
  • Mary Rose – David Austin Shrub Rose
  • Molineux Rose – David Austin Shrub Rose
  • Playboy Rose – Floribunda Rose
  • Quadra Rose
  • Queen of Sweden Rose – David Austin Shrub Rose
  • Sophy’s Rose – David Austin Shrub Rose
  • Winnipeg Parks Rose

Best David Austin Roses For Covering A Fence

Cover that unsightly fence panel with glorious blooms and scent all summer

‘Mortimer Sackler’ (pictured above)

A plain larch-lap fence can easily be disguised by these gorgeous climbing roses; all bred and recommended by David Austin. They will all reach a minimum of 3m (10’) so will easily reach the top of the average garden fence. They all have good disease resistance so black spot should not be too much of a problem, (click here to watch the video showing how to deal with blackspot on roses). A good strong scent and the ability to flower for a long period throughout the season are also important features of these luscious full-petalled blooms. Many of the David Austin English shrub roses will reach a height of 180cm (6′) if you just let them grow and don’t prune them as hard as you would for a standard shrub rose.

‘Teasing Georgia’


If possible they need a sunny site with well-draining, humus-rich soil; although Crown Princess Margareta will tolerate more shade than the others.

‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’


Attach horizontal wires along the length of the fence about 45cm (18”) apart and if possible leave a few centimetres gap between the wire and the fence. This gap is required to make sure there is a good airflow through the plant. Crowded vegetation will improve the likelihood of the rose contracting blackspot.


If planting bare root stock, usually done from autumn to early spring when the plant is dormant, spread out the roots and dig a hole at least the width of these roots. Dig it deep enough so that the graft point will be level with the soil surface; place a cane across the hole to ascertain the correct depth. Dig in a bucketful of well-rotted farmyard manure and sprinkle in some mycorrhizal fungi, such as Rootgrow, also sprinkle some onto the roots. If you add some general purpose fertiliser don’t use the fungi as the phosphorous in the fertiliser will prevent the fungus from working. Place the rose into the hole and backfill with the soil, firming it as you go. Water well after planting. Container roses can be planted at any time; tease out the roots and follow the same instructions as for the bare rooted stock.

‘Crown Princess Margareta’


Keep damp for the first year after planting until the plant has established a good root system, after which it should be able to reach its own water supply. Cut back in early spring to about 30cm (12”) from the ground, to nice strong outward facing buds. Apply a rose fertiliser, such as Toprose, in early spring, water it in then apply a mulch (click here to read the blog Magic Mulch). Attach the stems to the wires in a fan shape.

‘St Swithun’

Recommended varieties

Crown Princess Margareta

  • apricot/orange blooms
  • strong fruity fragrance
  • will tolerate some shade

Gertrude Jekyll

  • mid-pink blooms
  • very strong Old Rose fragrance
  • twice voted nations favourite rose by Gardener’s World viewers
  • RHS Award Garden Merit

Mortimer Sackler

  • soft pink blooms
  • strong Old Rose fragrance
  • RHS Award Garden Merit

St Swithun

  • soft pink blooms
  • strong myrrh fragrance

Teasing Georgia

  • rich yellow blooms
  • strong tea fragrance
  • RHS Award Garden Merit

Tess of the D’Urbervilles

  • bright crimson blooms
  • good Old Rose scent

All images courtesy of David Austin

These Are The Best Flowers For Your Fence

If you’ve got an unsightly chain-link fence that you’re trying to cover, turn to your garden for inspiration. There are many different varieties of flowers, vines, and vegetables that love to latch onto a fence, and provide your home with lots of beautiful color. These flowers are also great for building a little more privacy into your backyard. So, then next time you think that you need to build a higher fence – take a trip to your local garden center for a much cheaper, much prettier option.

Here are some of our absolute favorite flowers to plant by the fence:

Flowering Vines
These stunning vines are great for hiding chain-link fences because they will grow in and out of the gaps. Unlike shrubs and trees, its form is fluid. You can train it into patterns, let it scramble up and over structures, or allow it to wander at will. Most vines seemingly never stop growing. The size of the support determines the ultimate height and spread. Some climb by suction cup-like holdfasts, and some use twining stems and tendrils. Some of our favorites are Carolina jessamine – adorned with fragrant, bell-shaped blossoms in early spring, Crossvine – a rugged, adaptable, carefree Southern native with trumpet-shaped blooms of orange or red, and Confederate jasmine – white, starlike flowers on evergreen foliage that perfume the entire garden.

Climbing Roses
Many varieties of climbing roses bloom repeatedly with no special care, like “New Dawn.” “Dortmund” climbing rose features abundant, single red blooms with striking white centers and yellow stamens. This vigorous plant reaches 15 to 30 feet if not pruned. Wear gloves when you do—its sturdy thorns are legendary. You can also use a climbing rose that’s bred to send out long runners—like “Sally Holmes” roses—and use either masonry screws or wire to train them. The roses usually have to be pinned and trained to your desired shape.

Going native with wildflowers means less work, because the plants are adapted to your region. You won’t need to spray pesticides or use chemical fertilizer, and watering will be a rarity. Wildflowers like yarrow, goldenrod, and asters sweep the bottom of the fence in an elegant way.

Many vegetables like to be supported as they’re growing, so use this to your advantage and encourage the vines up a fence. Squash varieties, like butternut squash, especially like to be supported by a fence. Not only will you have a beautiful addition to your garden, but you’ll also have fresh ingredients for the kitchen. Keep in mind, though, that you may not be the only one who loves your squash plants. Pests include squash vine borers and squash bugs. To deter these culprits, try spraying with Neem Oil Extract. Powdery mildew is the most common disease; choose disease-resistant selections, provide good air circulation, and avoid overhead watering.

A fence of climbing vines and shrubs adds depth, color, and texture to your yard. Be sure to pick a variety that will fit the living conditions of the fence – whether it’s in the shade or exposed to full sun. Prune shrubs grow flat against a wall or a fence to create a pretty focal point, which plays double duty for your landscape design.

Evergreen Azaleas
This Southern belle makes a pretty screen for a fence all year long. In the spring, you’ll have gorgeous blooms that star in your garden, and then the evergreen provides lush greenery to the space in the fall. Be sure to select varieties that are adapted to your region. Some azaleas exhibit excellent cold tolerance, while others withstand heat and humidity. Azaleas want acid, well-drained soil and high shade.

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