How to Take Care of Climbing Roses


Climbing roses are a great way to add new dimension--and height--to your yard or garden. They are typically easier to care for and more vigorous than other roses. If you have grown roses before, understand that caring for climbing roses is not exactly the same as caring for other types of roses. Although some of their requirements are similar, many things are different.

Things You'll Need

  • Climbing roses Rose fertilizer Water Mulch Trellis or similar structure String or soft cloth Pruning shears
  • Plant climbers in an area that receives plenty of sun. While some climbers will do well in partial shade--even up to half a day of shade--most need plenty of light. In general, lighter colored climbing roses will be more tolerant to shade the darker-colored roses.

  • Amend clay and sandy soils with compost, manure, mulch or peat moss. Or plant the roses in an area that has rich, loamy soil with good drainage.

  • Cover soil with 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch such as straw, pine needles, buckwheat hulIs, ground corn cobs, peat moss, wood chips, shredded bark, cottonseed/cocoa bean hulls, chopped leaves, peat nuggets or grass clippings. This will keep the soil moist and the roots cool. Mulch in the spring while the rose bush is still dormant.

  • Water climbing roses, if necessary, so that they get at least 1 inch of water per week and 2 inches of water if planted in sandy soil. Water in the morning and avoid wetting the leaves to prevent fungus problems.

  • Fertilize in the spring after pruning. Use a dry, commercial rose fertilizer that has a slow release form of nitrogen. Apply about 1/2-cup to the soil. During the summer, apply a foliar spray of diluted liquid fertilizer (50 percent strength) every 3 to 4 weeks up until 6 weeks before the first frost is expected.

  • Support climbing roses by tying the canes to a trellis, frame or similar structure. Tie them loosely with string, soft cloth or plastic. Climbing roses do not have tendrils or suckers like vines, so they require external supports to grow vigorous. If possible, allow your roses to grow horizontally, than vertically, as they will produce more flowers.

  • Prune roses once they are at least 3 to 4 years old. In the spring, remove any dead wood, weak canes and any canes to avoid overcrowding or crossing. You will only need to prune every other year, although hardy climbers can be pruned every year. Your goal in pruning is to keep the roses in the area you want and ensure that only strong canes remain, not to limit its growth. Use only sharp, clean pruning shears and make slanting cuts about 1/4 inch above a growth bud.

  • Deadhead roses by removing any spent flowers. Cut back the stem to a leaflet or a bud with 5 leaves.

  • Protect climbing roses in the winter if you live in an area where temperatures frequently get and stay below freezing. For the best results, remove the canes from their support and cover them with soil. If you can't remove them from their supports, make sure they are securely tied and cover them with a burlap screen or similar material. Also, cover the base of the plant with soil or mulch.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not prune climbing roses for the first 2 to 3 years.

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  • Photo Credit Linda N, Care_SMC, Rhian vK
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