Planting Climbing Roses: Quick Guide to Get You Started

Climbing roses can add beautiful structure, color, and fragrance to any garden. These fantastic roses work best when climbing up a trellis or other form of support. However, climbing roses need to be planted in the right location and at the right time to truly thrive. In this article, we’ll discover when and how to plant climbing roses.

When and How to Plant Climbing Roses The Easy Way

How Do You Plant Climbing Roses? Key Takeaways

Plant climbing roses as bare-root stocks between November and March in rich, well-draining soil. Dig a hole that’s slightly wider and deeper than the roots. Ensure the graft between the stem and roots sits just below ground level. Provide a support structure and tie the stems in as they grow.

What Conditions Do Climbing Roses Like?

Like many other roses, climbing roses grow best in USDA Zones 4 to 10. However, they will struggle to flower if temperatures get too hot or too cold. Most climbing roses prefer temperatures between approximately 50 and 80ºF.

In cooler areas, climbing roses grow best in full sun. However, in hotter climates, they will need partial shade to protect them from direct afternoon sunlight. East or south-facing areas work best for climbing roses.

Climbing roses require lots of nutrients to produce their best flowers. As such, they need rich, well-draining soils that can still hold some moisture. Loamy soil works best, but clay or sandy soils also work well with a few amendments.

When Do You Plant Climbing Roses?

Red blooming roses climbing up trellis in a garden

If you want to grow climbing roses, it’s better to buy them as bare-root plants. These are small sections of the stem with a few roots that aren’t stored in the soil. You can plant them straight into the ground, allowing them to quickly develop their roots.

The best time to plant bare-root climbing roses is from late winter until early spring. Generally, the best time is between November and March. Always plant bare-root roses on a cool, dry day when the ground isn’t wet or frozen.

If you want to grow your climbing rose in a container, you can plant it at any time of year. However, it’s still best to plant it during the spring. This gives your rose plenty of time to establish a sound root system before winter arrives.

Where Should You Plant Climbing Roses?

Plant your climbing rose in a sheltered east or south-facing spot so that it gets plenty of sunlight. This also protects your roses from strong or cold winds that could damage the flower buds. Always give climbing roses plenty of space away from other plants.

Climbing roses also need fertile, well-draining soils that retain some moisture. Loamy soil is best, but clay or sandy soils also work well. Enrich sandy soils with some extra compost to provide extra nutrients and increase water retention. Amend dense clay soils with some fine grit, perlite, or sand to improve drainage.

As the name suggests, climbing roses also need something to climb. The most straightforward support to use is a trellis panel fixed to a garden wall or your house. However, I like to let my climbing roses climb a garden arch.

Unlike other climbing plants, climbing roses don’t have tendrils or suckers that attach to nearby structures. As your rose grows, loosely tie some of the stems to your chosen support structure. This allows you to loosely train your climbing rose into a desired shape.

How to Plant Climbing Roses

A wall of white climbing roses in bloom

If climbing roses are planted correctly, they can thrive and give you a bounty of beautiful flowers for many years. Here’s a quick guide explaining how to plant climbing roses:

  1. Obtain a bare-root climbing rose stock to make planting as easy as possible. Garden centers or online sellers usually sell these during the winter.
  2. Ensure your chosen support structure is in place before you start planting.
  3. Pick a cool, dry day between November and March when the soil isn’t frozen or wet.
  4. Soak the roots of your bare-root stock in water for approximately one to two hours before you plant it. This helps revive the rootstock from its dormant state.
  5. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the roots of your bare-root rose. A good-sized hole is approximately 18 inches by 18 inches.
  6. Using a garden fork, loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and mix in some fertile compost.
  7. Place your bare-root stock into the hole. Ensure that the bulbous graft between the stem and the roots is 1 or 2 inches below the hole’s edge. Gently loosen the roots and spread them out carefully.
  8. Fill in around your rootstock with rich, well-draining soil.
  9. Firm the soil down with your hands to eliminate any air pockets.
  10. Water your climbing rose thoroughly.

How to Care for Climbing Roses After Planting

Once you’ve planted your climbing rose, you’ll need to water it regularly to help it establish a sound root system. Water your newly-planted climbing rose approximately once a week for the first year. In hotter climates, you may need to water every few days to keep the soil moist.

Keep tying the stems to the support structure as your climbing rose grows. This trains your rose to climb up the structure while supporting it early on. If you want your climbing rose to produce even more flowers, train it horizontally rather than vertically.

Once your climbing rose is established, give it a dose of slow-release fertilizer in early spring. Once new growth emerges, feed your climbing rose every few weeks during the growing season. Stop fertilizing near the end of the season, approximately six to eight weeks before your first expected frost date. Always dilute liquid fertilizers according to the packet instructions.

After one to three years, you can safely start pruning your climbing rose. Most climbing roses should only be pruned once a year after the first big round of flowers has finished. This should be done in late spring or summer. Remove any damaged, dead, or diseased canes.

In colder areas, you may need to protect your climbing roses during the winter. A good way of doing this is to wrap some horticultural fleece around the central stem. If you have potted climbing roses, move them into a greenhouse if you have one large enough.

About Roses

Like other roses (Rosa spp.), climbing roses are deciduous woody perennials from the Rosaceae family. Climbing roses grow more as vines, while other roses form shrubs. Most types of roses are native to parts of Asia, Europe, North Africa, and North America.

Roses are broadly divided into three main categories; old garden roses, species roses, and modern or hybrid roses. Most roses can also be further subdivided into more specific categories, such as Floribunda or Polyantha roses. Each of these types will have several cultivars that are climbing roses.

Roses have tough, woody stems covered with sharp thorns and alternate leaves with serrated edges. The beautiful flowers come in single, double, or semi-double forms depending on the exact species or cultivar. Each flower has five petals and can produce an intoxicating musky fragrance. Roses also come in several gorgeous colors and are rich in meaning and symbolism.

When and How to Plant Climbing Roses FAQs

How Should I Plant a Climbing Rose?

Plant a bare-root climbing rose stock in rich, well-draining soil in a sheltered location. Make sure that the hole is wider and deeper than the roots. Plant the stock so the graft between the stem and the roots is at or below the surface.

Where is the Best Place to Plant a Climbing Rose?

The best place to plant a climbing rose is in a sheltered location that receives full sun. Climbing roses also need fertile, well-draining soils that still hold some moisture. Always provide a secure support structure for your rose to climb.

How Long Does it Take a Climbing Rose to Establish?

Climbing roses usually take one to three years to become well-established. What’s more, climbing roses usually won’t flower much during their first year as they focus on climbing nearby support structures.

How Deep Do You Plant a Climbing Rose?

Climbing roses should be planted in a hole that’s slightly deeper and wider than their root system. To make planting easier, use bare-root climbing rose stocks and plant them between November and March.

What is the Best Month to Plant Climbing Roses?

The best months for planting climbing rose bare-root stocks are between November and March. Late winter or early spring is best in colder areas because the rootstock won’t have to endure harsh conditions.

Wrapping Up

Climbing roses are best planted as bare-root stocks between November and March. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the root system in some rich, well-draining soil. Plant climbing roses in sheltered areas that receive plenty of full sun. Provide a secure support structure and tie stems in place early on. This helps your climbing rose to develop quickly and safely.

For more, see our in-depth guide to the best types of thornless climbing roses, whether roses will bloom indoors, the best types of edible roses, how to make roses last longer in a vase, essential tips for growing potted roses, and three easy methods to press roses at home.

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