How to Plant Climbing Roses in Your Garden

Climbing roses can add beautiful structure, color, and fragrance to any garden. I plant my climbing roses as bare-root stocks between November and March in rich, well-draining soil. The trick is to dig a hole that’s slightly wider and deeper than the roots and ensure the graft between the stem and roots sits just below ground level. I’ll then set up a support structure and tie the stems in as they grow. Join me as I run through the basics of planting climbing roses in your garden.

When and How to Plant Climbing Roses The Easy Way

What Conditions Do Climbing Roses Like?

Like many other roses, climbing roses grow best in USDA Zones 4 to 10. However, I find that 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, I recommend planting climbing roses in full sun where possible. Conversely, 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, in my experience.

These plants require lots of nutrients to produce their best flowers. As such, I recommend rich, well-draining soils that can still hold some moisture. I find that 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.

In my experience, the best time to plant bare-root climbing roses is from late winter until early spring (sometime between November and March is ideal). I 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, I find 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?

I plant my climbing roses in a sheltered east or south-facing spot so that it gets plenty of sunlight. This also protects my plants from strong or cold winds that could damage the flower buds. In addition, I try to give climbing roses as much space as possible from neighboring plants.

My climbing roses always grow best in fertile, well-draining soils that retain some moisture. My top choice is loamy soil, but clay or sandy soils also work well. I’ll enrich sandy soils with some extra compost to provide extra nutrients and increase water retention. You can also 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 roses climb a garden arch.

Unlike other climbing plants, climbing roses don’t have tendrils or suckers that attach to nearby structures. As the plants grow, I loosely tie some of the stems to my chosen support structure. This allows me to loosely train the plant into my 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 I 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. I water your newly-planted plants approximately once a week for the first year. In hotter climates, you may need to water every few days to keep the soil moist.

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

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

In my experience, after one to three years, you can safely start pruning your climbing rose. I find that 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.

When and How to Plant Climbing Roses FAQs

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. In my experience, they also need fertile, well-draining soils that still retain 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, they 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 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. I dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than the root system in some rich, well-draining soil. I find sheltered areas work best 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.

Contributing Editor | | Full Bio

Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.

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