Climbing roses support ideas

How to create an amazing garden wall

Gently does it

Rather than using horizontal wires strung across the wall at regular intervals, Troy prefers to use vine eyes drilled into the wall where possible. Usually they go into the masonry, as the mortar is often too soft. Shoots are directly tied to the vine eyes using Nutscene twine ( Occasionally an old nail that is already in place is used and, as mentioned before, shoots are tied to other shoots.

Troy’s dislike of using fixed, permanent wires is mainly because shoots grow up behind them and are then difficult to get out. The wires can also seem too dominant and, he says, they have to be spot‑on level, otherwise they look odd. Occasionally he may need to use a short stretch of horizontal wire, but rarely. His main objective is to cover the wall, to go around doors and windows and, in the case of free-standing walls, to get the plants just over the top to give an ebullient feel. To this end he will run a horizontal wire along the top of the wall.

Troy is known for his attention to detail. The vine eyes are specially made for Sissinghurst by Dave Broadbent, from a Midlands engineering firm, as they are then exactly what they want: less shiny, a good length and sturdy (8cm long shank and 10mm diameter eye). The gardeners drill holes and fix in the vine eyes with a rawl plug or, when into a very hard stone such as granite (as when Troy worked at Bodnant), they put in some epoxy resin to keep the vine eye in place. Epoxy resin is also used if the stone/brickwork is very soft (just a dab on the outside end) as it prevents water from penetrating the hole. If you cannot have yours made, like Troy, a great source is The Essentials Company ( Chris Wheeler, partner in the firm, says their best sellers are the 75mm zinc-plated screw (vine) eyes. Most people use these with Flexi-Tie to fix the shoot to the eye (brown tubing approx £6.50/59m). Troy would use this too if he did not work in Vita’s garden – it was not around in her day.

The commercial versions of Flexi-Tie come in yellow, livid greens and red, as in nurseries they need to be aware of ties for maintenance; but for garden use, the brown version in three gauges, 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 6mm (for trees and stouter plants), is brilliantly low-key. It stretches rather than cuts into the plant. Mary Thornhill, who introduced the brown Flexi-Tie to Britain, has created quite an addiction to it.

Chris Wheeler says if you prefer to use twine, carpet twine is best for plants (he sells a three-ply jute twine). It is uniform and reliable, whereas cheaper Chinese versions tend to be variable and snap.

Clematis and others

At Sissinghurst the system for fixing clematis to walls is pig netting (galvanised wire netting in squares approx 100mm). This spans the entire area they want to cover, giving maximum climbing space. The area of wire available for the plant tendrils to use makes it easy for plant and gardener.

They use “twizzlers” (paper-covered fine wire) to attach the young shoots where necessary to pull the plant across. The ephemeral nature of the shoots means the inner wire will not cause damage. Chris Wheeler says their twizzlers –“Kraft Paper Twist ties” – are especially popular with vineyard owners who find the fine inner wire disintegrates in just the right time frame.

Troy likes to mix a climbing rose with an early and late clematis, so in this situation he trains the rose as usual but leaves the clematis to use the rose or any odd nail or vine eye. Figs spreading across walls are another of the great Sissinghurst sights. Troy leaves his figs until spring, the old growth protecting the plant from the cold weather.

In March-April figs will have the old wood cut out and be trained tightly to the wall. The shoots are tied in (using vine eyes) in any pattern to obtain good wall coverage. All their ties, whatever the plant, are renewed annually (definite memo to self here). Other informal climbers, such as honeysuckle, are just fixed back to odd vine eyes, as their appeal is of a more informal nature and so they just get on with it. If you are tidy-minded, perhaps these are best left where there is lots of space to sprawl in many directions.

Bunny’s tips for tidy walls

The late, great John Cushnie told me that if you have painted, rendered walls and the self-clinging climber Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, all over them, you can just paint over plant and wall when the creeper is dormant. Ideally, use a plain emulsion (not a paint with plasticisers in it). Indeed, if you try to pull off the creeper before painting you could damage the wall.

At Highgrove, the Prince of Wales’s gardeners use hessian strips to tie wall fruit. It looks organic, does not rub and holds firm.

Climbing Roses

Climbing Roses are unique plants that score very high on the visibility table. They are usually grown in obvious locations such as an arbor, pillar, trellis, fence, or house wall. Their height and showy foliage display the flowers from various angles. The climbing rose can be used in a vertical garden and they do not take up much room. Climbing roses have been a part of the Rosa genus for as long as roses have been grown. All classes of roses have climbing forms. These climbers have canes that grow much longer and more flexible than other bush roses. Some of the modern climbing roses are the results of mutations.

Climbing roses usually grow from 8 to 20 feet tall and they may have a heavy early bloom and then sporadic blooms the rest of the year or they may bloom all summer long, depending on the cultivar. Climbing roses do not have the ability to cling to trellis or support by themselves. They need to be tied and trained to grow on their supports. There are many climbing roses on the market and they are available in white, red, lavender, pink, and variegated colors. Nature Hills offers several varieties of climbing roses. Click the photos to learn more, or call our plant experts at (888) 864-7663.

Climbing Rose

Climbing Rose

The acrobats of the rose world, climbing varieties develop long canes well adapted to training on pillars, fences, arbors, and gazebos. Most climbing roses are mutations or variations of bush-type varieties. They develop either large, single flowers or clustered blooms on a stem. Climbers may bloom once a season or continually, depending on the variety. Climbers can be treated to bloom more heavily by leading their canes in a horizontal direction. Loose anchoring to a support will encourage young plants to climb.

genus name
  • Rosa
  • Sun
plant type
  • Rose
  • 3 to 8 feet,
  • 8 to 20 feet
  • Up to 6 feet, depending on variety
flower color
  • Blue,
  • Red,
  • Orange,
  • White,
  • Pink,
  • Yellow
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Summer Bloom,
  • Winter Interest
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant,
  • Good For Privacy
special features
  • Attracts Birds,
  • Fragrance
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10,
  • 11
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Colorful Combinations

Blooms of climbing roses generally depend on the variety. Most commonly, climbers tend to have one very heavy bloom in spring, and then sporadic blooms throughout the rest of the growing season.

Regular deadheading of the flowers can help to encourage continuous blooms on your climbing roses. If you decide to prune your plants in winter before the initial bloom, you can increase the amount of blooms you get later on.

Climbing Rose Care Must-Knows

If you picture the quintessential cottage garden, most likely a climbing rose is working its way over an arbor gate or up a quaint brick facade. While climbing roses may seem a little daunting, these graceful flowers are easy to grow, creating a dream cottage feel.

Climbing roses generally are mutations or variations of bush or hybrid tea varieties of roses. These varieties produce extra-long canes that continue to grow, allowing them to be easily manipulated into growing up or around a surface. Because these roses don’t have tendrils or any other way to adhere to a surface, they do need a little coaxing to get the whole process started.

Training Your Climbing Roses: Once the roses begin to grow, make sure to start the training process right away. If you wait too long for them to get a good head start, the stems can become woody and trickier to work with.

Keeping up with the plants in the beginning can make all the difference in the end. If you are looking to train your roses up a wall or a solid surface, it’s best to have a trellis or some sort of support system a few inches away from the wall. This will allow some space behind the plants to promote good airflow.

How to Landscape with Roses

Pruning: After your climbing rose becomes established, you can begin to prune plants on a regular basis. Typically, you need to prune your climbing rose only once a year, after the first main flush of blooms. This is a good time to address any diseased or damaged canes, as well as make some pruning cuts to help improve airflow or direct future growth.

As with any rose, disease prevention is key to healthy, happy plants. Make sure to clean up any old leaf debris from previous years’ growth in the spring. Airflow and sunlight is key in fungus prevention. The main downfalls of roses are various fungal pathogens.

Roses are also susceptible to a slew of other pests, particularly aphids and Japanese beetles. Luckily these garden pests are easy to treat with an insecticidal soap (or pick them off and throw them in a bucket of soapy water). You can also give them a hearty blast of water to knock them off plants.

Easy-to-Grow Roses

More Varieties of Climbing Rose

‘Alberic Barbier’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Alberic Barbier’ was bred in 1900 and is still popular today. This charming climber offers pale yellow buds unfurling to warm ivory flowers that are double in form and scented with a green apple fragrance. Vigorous and rambling, the plant grows 15-20 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 5-9.

‘Altissimo’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Altissimo’ has large single red flowers that glow like embers against the medium green foliage. It blooms repeatedly through the season. The disease-resistant plant grows vigorously 6-10 feet tall. This French-bred variety is hardy in Zones 5-9.

‘America’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘America’ marked the beginning of the modern climber class and won the 1976 All-America Rose Selections award. Large, pointed buds unfurl to many-petaled, coral-pink blooms that show their ‘Fragrant Cloud’ heritage. The flowers are produced in sprays and have a spicy fragrance. Upright, disease-resistant plants can be slow to start climbing. They grow 8-16 feet tall and are hardy in Zones 6-9.

‘Climbing Snowbird’ rose

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Rosa ‘Climbing Snowbird’ is a vigorous climber with a high-centered white flower. It is exceptionally fragrant. Like other white roses, it is breathtaking in evening light. Zones 7-9

‘Don Juan’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Don Juan’ is an all-time favorite red-flowered climber. It seems to have it all: plush, hybrid tea-style blooms with a tart citrusy fragrance; glossy, disease-free foliage; and reblooming vigor. Foliage color is a velvety dark green, and the open blooms are cupped. It climbs 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 5-9

‘Eden’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Eden’ is becoming an instant classic for its huge, romantic blooms that appear profusely throughout the season. The flowers are composed of up to 100 petals tinted in shades of pale pink, cream, and soft yellow. Extremely hardy, the plant lends itself well to arbors, trellises, and fences in colder climates. It climbs 10 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Zones 5-9

‘Joseph’s Coat’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Joseph’s Coat’ is a dependable climber for many different climates and is very showy, offering cupped, semidouble blooms of yellow blended with cherry red. The plant grows 12 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Zones 5-10

‘Golden Showers’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Golden Showers’ is always in bloom. The ruffled, semidouble flowers impart their sunshine throughout the season, perfuming the air with a light fragrance. Plants grow 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 8-10

‘New Dawn’ climbing rose

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This repeat-blooming variety features lush, petal-packed blooms of the softest pink. The sweetly fragrant flowers are clustered on long, strong stems. It grows 18 feet tall and is disease resistant. Zones 5-9

‘Fourth of July’ climbing rose

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Rosa ‘Fourth of July’ is an award-winning variety with semidouble, ruffled red- and white-striped flowers. Blooms repeat continually and yield to large orange hips in fall. It climbs 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide in milder climates but will remain shrubby in colder regions. Zones 5-10

‘Sombreuil’ Climbing Rose

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Rosa ‘Sombreuil’ features fully double blooms in a warm ivory peach from late spring through fall. Its fragrance is a sweet grapefruit-zest scent. The arching canes feature healthy, disease-resistant foliage. Plants grow to 10 feet tall. Zones 6-9

Garden Plans For Climbing Rose

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The best climbing roses have a wild side. Consider the one in my backyard. It covers a large crab apple tree that I disdain but for one attribute: it is the best “trellis” around.

I am probably committing some horrible gardening offense by letting the rose take over. But the wildness of climbing roses and ramblers is what makes them magic. Here are seven of our favorite varieties to consider:

1. Eden

Above: If you want a vigorous, scented pink climber, consider Eden; in a one-gallon pot, it is $45 from Heirloom Roses. Photograph by via Flickr.

2. New Dawn

Above: The prolific pink grower in my garden is the New Dawn Climbing Rose. A fragrant climbing classic that is the forerunner of the modern climbing rose; $28 at White Flower Farm. Photograph by Justine Hand.

3. Renae

Above: For a similar variety without the wicked thorns, consider the Renae – Climbing Roses; $25.45 per pot at Rose Sales Online.

4. Mme. Alfred Carriere

Above: A tough climbing rose that can survive many climates (even the San Francisco fog), the Mme. Alfred Carriere Climbing Rose has very fragrant white informal-shaped blooms. Available for $27.50 from David Austin Roses. Photograph by Janet Hall.

5. Zephirine Drouhin

Above: The nearly thornless Zéphirine Drouhin Climbing Rose is Michelle’s favorite and offers fragrant old-fashioned blooms in a bright cerise pink; $45 for a one-gallon pot at Heirloom Roses. Photograph by Erin Boyle.

6. Kew Rambler

Above: The fragrant Kew Rambler offers single apple blossom-like blooms; €20.95 at David Austin. Photograph by Janet Hall.

7. Ballerina

Above: I love the delicate small foliage and blossoms of the Ballerina Climbing Rose. Good for hedging, it is available for $45 at Heirloom Roses. Photograph by Janet Hall.

For more of our favorite garden roses, see:

  • 10 Easy Pieces: Best Fragrant Garden Roses.
  • Nursery Visit: David Austin Roses in Shropshire.
  • Design Sleuth: 7 Sources for Brooklyn’s Best Roses.
  • A Rose for All Regions: 5 Best Roses to Plant in the Northeast, in Texas, and in Northern California.

Climbing Roses

When choosing and purchasing a climbing rose, almost everyone has a romantic vision of a sweet smelling cascade of flowers enriching their garden. Taking note of the following will help make this dream a reality.

Which variety?

A rose that is a climbing variety will be indicated by having ‘clg’ (for ‘climbing’) in front of its botanical name. There are a large number to choose from, Rambler roses being among the most popular because of their good growing characteristics. These roses flower after the first year, appearing from horizontal or trained branches.
The ‘tea hybrids’ are another good choice of climber, although these need to be trained horizontally to stop them becoming ‘leggy’. This will result in even growth all over the plant and not just at the top.
A third popular variety of climber is the perpetual flowering rose. They often flower in bunches and, if you cut them back to the first five-fingered leaf after flowering, you will be treated to a second period of abundant flowering. If you leave the left-off flowers on the plant, the second flowering period will be diminished. However, perpetual flowering roses are very generous and, in this case, they will treat you to lovely red rose hips instead, which look very decorative in the autumn and winter months.

Which colour?

Roses come in just about every colour, from snow white to almost black-red and from almost translucent yellow to bright orange. There are even blue varieties, although these will never flower really blue, but will have more of a lavender shade. If the final colour is important to you, be wary of roses bought from ‘cut-price’ garden centres or supermarkets. These are rarely colourfast.

Where to plant?

With climbing roses you are spoilt for choice. They can grow up a trellis or an old hedge, over an unsightly wall, up a pergola or into an old tree, as an obelisk in the middle of your garden or even as a flowering garland. The key conditions for success are always (and this goes for all roses) that the rose is planted in:

  • Well-fertilised, loose soil
  • A sunny and aerated, though sheltered spot
    Further, it is always important to:
  • Fertilise regularly with a low nitrogen, high magnesium fertiliser.
  • Water regularly (especially when temperatures rise above 22°C and in the first growing season)
  • Check regularly for pests and diseases.

Roses climbing up a trellis or over an old hedge

Choosing a variety that is self-clinging or only needs a bit of guidance to wind through a trellis or hedge will save you a lot of work cutting and training. Planting two different colours, and letting them mix randomly, can produce a lovely and lively effect. Place the trellis or hedge in a not very windy or shady spot.

Roses climbing up a wall

Practically every wall is suitable for climbing roses but avoid very sheltered, south facing walls as these might become too hot, causing your rose to scorch or dry out. In these locations, perhaps vines might be more successful. Rambler roses are suitable for covering a wall although you will have to lead and tie the rose up. Only choose 4 or 5 main branches and attach a trellis on to the wall, leaving 2 cm between the trellis and the wall for air circulation. Plant the rose at about 30cm from the wall. Nearer to the wall the ground will be too dry. Water generously! In the summer after the rose has flowered it can be cut back. If there are more than 5 main branches, the oldest ones can be cut back as far as possible. Cut the other branches back to the desired height, just above a developing shoot.

Climbing roses on a pergola, old tree, as obelisk or garland

If you want a roof of roses for your pergola, you need to plant several roses on both sides of the pergola. The young plants will also need leading and tying up. You will see good results in just one year and in only three years the rosy roof should have reached its full height. The same applies to roses in trees or obelisks. If you rejuvenate the top in time, you can be assured of a waterfall of flowers. For an extraordinary effect try leading your rose along a chain that links different parts of the garden together. Stretch the chain in such a way that it forms natural curves. Prevent damaged branches from rubbing on the metal by winding the chain with 1cm thick rope. Plant a few roses next to the point where your chain starts. After one year the branches will just reach the chain. Twist the young flexible branches around the chain and secure them if necessary. With some patience and careful cutting you can soon have a beautiful flowering garland running through your garden.
Cutting perpetual flowering roses is done after the first flowering period. Cut the left-off flowers back to the first five-fingered leaf. At this spot you can expect a new flowering shoot to develop. The real cutting is done in March. Select 4 or 5 sturdy main shoots, young ones if possible. Cut all side branches back to 2 to 3 eyes (the spots where new shoots are developing). With a garland you only cut the branches that do not produce flowers anymore.

Wild shoots

As most roses are grafted onto a wild rootstock, fast growing wild shoots can suddenly develop. They are easily recognisable by their many thorns. It is important to cut such a shoot back as far and as soon as possible as these shoots use lots of energy and multiply rapidly, eventually destroying your ‘real’ rose.


Your climbing rose will grow very rapidly and will provide you with a wealth of flowers. To generate the required energy for this you should fertilise the plant twice a year, in March and July, with special organic rose fertiliser or an artificial fertiliser. Bonemeal can be used as an alternative but be aware that this is a slower acting fertiliser although its effect is longer lasting. Be careful not to feed your plant with artificial fertiliser in autumn as this could cause fungal diseases on the new shoots. Organic fertiliser will be essential at that time since, during the winter, the nutrients can slowly be rained into the ground and absorbed.

Protection from frost and disease

The graft, a kind of lump just above the roots, is very sensitive to frost. Put an extra layer of soil, straw or mulch around this spot, to protect the plant from freezing. When cutting, always use a clean, sharp pair of secateurs. Clean them after cutting each plant to prevent diseases from spreading through cutting. Remove all dead leaves around the roots of the plant in autumn as these can cause fungal diseases.

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