Climbing roses are much less needy than their bush cousins, and if you want a piece of your property to be covered in them, read on to learn all there is about planting them.
This type of roses is able to form a vibrant landscape, and they are a great choice for arbors, trellises, fences, and pergolas. Most of them grow between 6 and 12-feet long and spread 3- to 4-feet wide. Various pastel, bright, and multi-colors are available.
The Basics of Climbing Roses
Choosing a variety
First of all, learn if your desired variety is suitable in your growing zone. Next step it to choose the color you want and see if the mature size is appropriate for the spot you had in mind. When you sort this out, look for a climber type that is resistant to diseases, repeat blooming, and other features you think you will benefit from. For example, the cheery yellow Smiley Face™ Climbing Rose is famous for its hardiness, vigor, and low-maintenance.
Most roses need full sun, and they thrive the best in loamy and well-drained soil. The plants prefer a consistent amount of water, so give them around an inch per week. Eastern exposure is the ideal side because it will protect the leaves from the hot afternoon sun. Keep in mind that roses with wet feet are susceptible to many different kinds of fungus. Make sure to keep a clean planting site and never overwater. Good soil drainage helps with this.
Most gardeners usually want from their climbing roses to serve a functional purpose, and act as a screen for example, or frame a doorway. This provides visual beauty to space and is what many go for. This is why the stems have to be trained to grow in the desired direction. Air circulation is also very important to prevent potential diseases. Therefore, if you want it to cover a wall, use some kind of free-standing vertical support. This will give your rose three inches of breathing room at least, between the wall and the plant. You can also use a stretchable fastener to hand-tie the plant to the crosspiece of the structure, and arrange the branches in the desired way. This will help with pruning easier. You should train the plant for the first couple of years, as it encourages the growth on the bottom of the plant, not just the tops. The result is a full plant throughout its wholesome.
Except for sun, food, and water essentials, proper pruning is necessary once a year, after the plants are established. Many prunes in springtime for maintenance and shape, after the first blooms pass. Proper pruning will give you a stronger plant that produces a lot of healthy blooms. Most of the climbing roses bloom two or more times per season. If you prune in late winter, you will have tons of flowers later in the season. For those that bloom only in the summer, prune after blooming stops.
For the actual pruning, remove dead, diseased, damaged, and crossing canes, if you have any of these. Also remove the canes narrower than a pencil. With the main canes, cut back the side shoots to about 2-3 inches, in order to keep them in line. Good advice is to wipe your tools with rubbing alcohol between each cut. This will help you prevent the spread of disease, and give care to your tools. Wash them with a mild soap after, rinse them and dry with a towel.
Deadhead the plant to keep them blooming, but just until fall. When you allow the hips to develop, it also helps the plant enter the dormant period, keeping it healthy and strong in winter.
There are different fertilizer requirements depending on where you live, as well as your soil composition. In South and West, roses grow for 9 or 10 months during the year. More fertilizer is needed here. In the North, however, roses only grow for three or four months so less fertilizer is used.
The easiest form to use is the time release rose food. You only have to remember to apply it once or twice during the season. Water before and after using it to avoid burning. An equal mix of cottonseed and alfalfa meals is what organic gardeners prefer. Use 10 cups at the base of each rose every 10 weeks, and cover them with mulch.
You should start fertilizing in early spring, right after pruning, which is about four weeks before the spring growth. In colder regions, stop fertilizing six weeks before the first frost, in order to allow the plant to go dormant.
Mulching and winterizing
Mulch is critical for the rose to keep the roots evenly moist during the summer, and to protect them against hard freezes in winter. Apply one layer a few inches thick in the spring. Later in the fall and after the first frost, put some more mulch to provide a little extra insulation. While the ground warms in the spring, slowly remove excess mulch, leaving a layer a few inches thick.
Care of Climbing Roses
Unfortunately, climbing roses and all other roses attract more insects than other flowers. Pests might chew and pit the leaves, wilt the petals, and go into the stems. Feel free to use organic Insecticidal Soap to get rid of aphids, scale, and whiteflies. Be careful and never use pesticides when bees or other beneficial insects are present.
Roses can suffer from black spot, anthracnose, and other fungal problems that too much water, humidity, and heat may cause. Some are more resistant like the bright magenta colored CanCan™ Climbing Rose. This is a great variety for beginners, as it is easy to care for. Use a disease control spray like Bonide® Fung-onil™ Multi-Purpose Fungicide to deal with a disease if it develops. A natural alternative is a copper-based Bordeaux spray/dust, as it is very effective against mildews and other diseases.
Climbing roses are a very unique take on the traditional landscape. They take up small pieces of ground as they mostly go up, even in a small garden, they can look stunning. You now have all of the basics, so go on and start growing your own plant!