How To Grow Climbing Roses – The Complete Guide

8 pink English roses

Climbing roses can be a dramatic addition to your landscape. They are easy to grow and can add a plentiful amount of blooms and fragrance to your garden.

Climbers are easy to train and can provide beautiful screening either on a fence or on trellises. They have a perfect size and flexible characteristics that allow for excellent architectural features.

They can be an exceptional frame either in your window or doorway and can become a focal point when trained to an arbor. Climbing roses also make a stunning entrance to other sections of your garden.

An English garden is not complete without a climbing rose. It is the pride of every English gardener since roses provide a subtle fragrant almost no one can resist.

They contain impressive shades that are beautiful as garden backdrops. Repeat bloomers often make the atmosphere, fabulous and sensational all summer long.

One more exceptional thing about roses is that they are also listed as non-toxic to pets like dogs, cats, and horses on the APSCA plant list.

The Complete Guide To Growing Climbing Roses

Climbing pink roses on a wall.

Climbing roses offer the best of two in gardening worlds. No one can resist the charm of their blending shades with a sensational scent, and without a doubt, their space-saving versatility.

Resilience is one of the most impressive features of climbing roses. You can grow them on a patio, make an attractive fence or wall covering, or make a graceful arch over an arbor.

Climbing roses are often the mutations of bush-type varieties. They usually grow either in large, single flowers or clustered blooms in a stem.

Climbers are hardy. They can bloom once in a season or continuously, depending on their variety.

Some gardeners treat their climbers to bloom more heavily. There are also other varieties that are specially bred to resist mildew, blight, and other diseases.

If you wish to grow them in your garden, and experience such unique and beautiful characteristics of climbing roses, here are a few basic things you have to consider.

Choose A Variety Appropriate To Your Space

A single bud of a red English rose.

The very first thing you need to consider when growing climbing roses is to select the right variety for your garden. And to help you ensure to pick the best, check out the following concerns in this checklist.

  • Are you familiar with the growing that suits to your zone?
  • Have you checked the mature size of the climbing roses you’ve chosen to suit the available space you have?
  • Is your climber disease resistant?
  • Are they repeat bloomers?
  • Are they low maintenance?
  • Are the shades I am going to pick appropriate to the theme of my garden?

If you find all these checked, the climbing roses that you are going to pick will bring smiles onto your face because they will make your whole garden vibrant and sophisticated.

Choose Location That Accommodates Best

Rose garden in Taipei with orange blooms

Roses prefer full sun to thrive. Some varieties can tolerate partial shade, yet they bloom well and grow fuller if you let them receive about 6-8 hours of full sun every day.

Also, it is best to choose a location that can accommodate the plant’s requirements. Some climbers can grow up to 12 feet tall and more and spread equally wide.

The Eastern side is the ideal place for climbing roses. The sun exposure is just right for them to grow healthy and protect their leaves from dehydration due to the scorching afternoon sun.

Like other plants, roses are susceptible to fungal infection due to over-watering. It can generate black spots and other diseases that may damage your plant.

And providing a well-draining growing medium will lessen the instances of over-watering and water-logging, which is the primary cause of root rot.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Climbing Roses

The thought of planting roses at the first hit of spring inspire every rose grower – considering the season will provide them with sufficient opportunity to establish a firm rooting system.

When considering to start planting either from newly germinated seeds or bare-root, you have to consider your zone growing guidelines. The best time to plant roses in most hardiness zones is in early spring. It is between late February and early April.

A few essential points to remember when planting roses in your zones include:

  • Let all the dangers of frosts pass before planting the rose.
  • Prepare a pre-warmed and well-tilled soil before the date of planting.
  • Avoid muddy and freezing soil as a growing medium.
  • If you find the soil is too moist, wait until it is dry enough to prepare for planting.

How To Plant From Bare Root

A bunch of rose bare roots.
Image by:

You’ll need:

  • Bare root
  • Spade
  • Fork
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Watering can
  • A bucket of water

Here’s an easy to follow direction guide on how to plant the bare root.

  1. Rehydrate roses by watering thoroughly before removing them from the containers.
  2. Prepare the soil by using a garden fork. Till the growing medium by turning thoroughly and remove any existing weeds or stones you may find.
  3. Dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to accommodate the entire roots. The ideal hole is about 20-inches wide and 20-inches deep.
  4. If you’re considering training your climbing rose to grow up on a wall or frame, it is best to dig the hole directly against the structure.
  5. Add the essential nutrients to the growing medium by adding compost or well-rotted manure at the base of your planting hole.
  6. Adding the compost and well-rotted manure will help the growing rose establish the rooting system more firmly.
  7. You can source manure from local farmers in your area or get them readily available at any garden centers near you.
  8. Carefully position the bare root at the center of your planting hole. (Angle the stems pointing against the wall if you’re planting them to climb as a walled garden)
  9. Fill in the soil (dug out of the hole) around the bare root.
  10. Gently firm the soil by pressing lightly to ensure the bare root is secure.
  11. Water the newly planted bare root using a watering can.

Growing From Seeds: Collecting Pollens To Transplanting

Rose pollens ready to harvest

Growing roses from seeds aren’t that hard, but it usually takes time to propagate. Once you do, you will also find this method rewarding.

However, the rating success of germinating seeds are quite small, and once they do, some that sprouted only end up dying several weeks later due to damp-off disease.

Roses are bisexuals. They both have stamens (male) and ovary (female) organs. They can pollinate themselves, even if you leave them alone.

Collecting Pollens
Anatomy of a rose
Image by:

Since propagating roses from seeds has quite a small success rate, the simplest way is to let your roses self-pollinate themselves. This process will allow them to seed and set hips.

Once the roses set hips, allow them to stay on the rose bushes at least four months to reach maturity before harvesting.

However, if you want to try to experiment with your ability to grow roses from seeds, here are a few tips you can consider.

Easy Procedures On How To Collect Ideal Rose Pollens

Newly collected pollens in a jar.

To cross-pollinate two different roses, you need to first remove the pollen from both roses before you can administer the process.

  • Get the two roses that you want to cross-pollinate.
  • Make sure you pick the blooms that are not too tight, maybe about ½ to ¾ open.
  • Gently peel off all the petals (you will find the stamens inside (male organ) looks fresh in golden yellow.)
  • Carefully remove all the stamens you may find at the base of your rosehip, so you do not damage the anthers (pollen sacs).
  • Keep the rose stamens in a clean canister, and place them in a dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Label the canister (Pollen Parent).
  • Allow the collected pollens to get dry by not putting back the canister’s lid.
  • On the next day, the pollen sac will try to burst open, releasing the real set of pollen.
  • There are times that you have to shake the sac for the pollen to release.
  • At this time, it is best to use a black canister for you to easily see the newly collected pollen, which looks like a yellow powder. These pollens will stay fresh for about two weeks.

Note: You will find the stigma of your rose flower head becomes sticky when it is ready to accept the pollen.

How To Cross-Pollinate The Pollens

  • Take a sterilized Q-tip or a small sable brush.
  • Dip into the collected rose pollen you want to use.
  • Dab the pollen-coated Q-tip into the stigma of the rose you have chosen to be the female parent.
  • If you find it more comfortable, you can use your finger to apply the pollen into the rose.
  • Repeat the procedure after 4 hours.
  • Label the rose-hip with the variety of your parent seeds (female parent) as well as the pollen parent (male parent).
How To Harvest Rose Hips

Three rose-hips.

  • You can cut the rose hips off the bush when they reach maturity four months after.
  • Most varieties will have rose hips turn yellow, orange, and red, but some stay green even if they are already ripe.
  • You can either open the rose hips right after you harvest or store them unopened in the refrigerators for several weeks. 
  • Slice the rose hips in half with a knife (ordinary knife is fine).
  • Collect the seeds and throw out the outer shell after.
Soak The Rose Seeds Properly
  • Right after you’ve collected the rose seeds from the hips, rinse in a solution of purified water mixed with 5% bleach. (To make it more accurate, get two teaspoons of bleach per cup of water)
  • Rinse the seeds with plain water to remove bleach residue.
  • Get a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and soak the seeds for about 24 hours.

Note: Do not try to mix bleach to a peroxide solution. Doing so will create a harmful chemical reaction.

Is it Necessary to Stratify Rose Seeds?

Rose seeds in a paper towel

Stratification is a technique of chilling the rose seeds in the refrigerator for about 6-10 weeks before planting. This technique is often used by some rose breeders to encourage better germination.

On the other hand, if you leave the rose seeds inside the refrigerator for too long, they will start to germinate even before you plant them.


  • Place them on paper towels.
  • Moisten the paper towel with a mixed solution of peroxide and purified water in an equal part. (The mixture will help prevent molds)
  • Enclose all the rose seeds in the moistened paper towel.
  • Place the paper towel filled with seeds in a zippered plastic bag.
  • Label the plastic with the seed variety along with the date using a permanent marker.
  • Place the plastic bag inside the refrigerator and set it to about 34-38 degrees.

Note: Do not freeze the seeds. Check regularly to remoisten if you find them almost dry. You need to keep the paper towel moist inside the plastic as you refrigerate for several weeks.

You can also stratify rose seeds by planting directly into a tray of potting mix and chill the entire tray in the refrigerator.

Also, it is necessary to enclose the tray with plastics to retain the soil moisture if you opt to refrigerate them entirely.

How To Plant The Rose Seeds The Right Way

Three whole rosehips and one rosehip sliced in half.

  1. You can plant rose seeds right after harvest if you happen to gather them in the late of November, December, or January if you are in Southern California, as well as the early spring after the danger of frost in many other areas pass.
  2. Place the seeds in an inch deep in a combination of sterilized potting soil and vermiculite in equal parts as your growing medium.
  3. You can either plant them in container pots to preserve some space or a shallow tray to plant your seeds, but make sure the planter has sufficient drainage hole to drain excess water and provide proper aeration.
  4. Lightly sprinkle the seeds with the rooting hormone before covering the soil.
  5. Sprinkle the top of the growing medium once more to prevent damp-off, a disease that effortlessly kills rose seedlings.
  6. Some rose breeders prefer to spray the seed tray with a hydrogen peroxide solution instead of the concentrated rooting hormone.
  7. Water the newly planted rose seeds and bring them outside to receive direct sunlight.
  8. If the danger of frost is still threatening, place the seed tray under a tree or on a patio to protect them.
  9. Check the seed tray regularly to remoisten if you find them almost dry.
  10. When the weather starts to warm after six weeks, you will find the seeds begin to germinate.
  11. The seeds will continue to sprout while the weather is cold and stop to germinate when the temperature gets too hot.
Transplant The Rose Seedlings
Newly germinated rose seedlings.
Image by:

When you find your seedlings a few-inches tall, you can repot the newly germinated plants carefully into their container or wait until they have outgrown the seedling pot or tray.

It usually takes three years for a newly planted rose seedling to reach maturity and develop into a big bush, while it takes up to five years to completely reassess them.

All About Pruning And Training Your Climbing Roses

Pruning shears cutting a branch of a rose.
Image by:

Some people love to see roses climbing up along arbors, trellises, old structures, and even along old stone walls. Roses can evoke the romantic and nostalgic feelings of us.

However, creating such an effect does not happen from magic. It takes real effort, and a passionate rose-loving gardener to accomplish such a goal.

Just as we train our children, it is necessary to start early on guiding climbing roses towards the proper way to go.

To help you understand more clearly, here are some easy steps you can follow so you can prune and train your climbing roses the right way.

Step #1 – Provide A Sturdy Structure

 Yellow roses in the arch trellis

To keep the flowers off the ground, you have to tie the long structural canes. Roses tend to produce plenty of flowers when the structural canes grow horizontally compared to those that grow vertically on the tower.

You also have to consider factors like the comfort of mobility when pruning, and the trellis capability to hold and accommodate the total weight of your growing roses, particularly when wet and in windy weather.

Step #2 – Position Them In The Best Spot

Firmly secure any structure you will install on the ground for your climbing roses. The trellis should accommodate the total weight of your vines, as we’ve mentioned above.

If you aim to grow them against the building, position the structure a few feet away from the wall to provide good air circulation and ease of access for maintenance.

Position them in a way that prevails wind or install some added protection if you place them in an area that is too windy.

Step #3 – Arrange And Space The Canes

After selecting and installing the sturdy trellises, tie the canes using cloth strips. Arrange and space evenly with a position similar to a horizontal angle as much as possible.

Step #4 – Prune Them Accordingly

Allow the climbers to grow wild for at least two to three years. Once established, prune the dead and damaged overcrowded canes from the base.

However, once pruning starts, it’s best not to procrastinate but to consistently provide the pruning your roses need.

Pruning is necessary, whether your climbing roses are grown on a fence, wall, pillar, or trellis.

To keep the climbers from overwhelming the supports, try to prune them annually. It will spare you from the disappointment of dealing with an overgrown trick of canes.

It is common for climbing roses to bloom twice in its growing season, and trimming them in dormant season will encourage them to produce plenty of flowers in the late season. You can start by cutting back as much foliage as possible for every rose.

Prune the flowering side-shoots about two to three buds to gradually showcase the structural frame, particularly during the dormant season.

Pruning helps remove dormant fungal spores, and remove diseased, injured, and spindly branches of your climbing roses.

You can also prune limbs that won’t provide flowers during the previous season. It is also essential to give canes that have outgrown support a trim to set them back inbound.

Train and Maintain the Beauty of Your Roses

Climbing roses with pink flowers in full bloom.

After removing all unwanted and spindly branches, it is best to step back and see if the remaining canes follow the plant’s primary framework. Remove any growths that don’t meet the guidelines.

  • Try to prune and train first the lowest part of the chosen canes.
  • Unfasten each branch one by one, and trim to fit the support, and make sure to cut enough giving way for the new growth.
  • Shorten each lateral shoot, down to five or two buds, by cutting ¼ inch above the bud. 
  • Reattach the pruned canes back to the support, keeping them as horizontal as possible. 
  • Climbing roses need support to stay in place since they have no tendrils, rootlets, or twining stems to help themselves hold to the support.  
  • Using some strips of cloth to tie the canes to your support is ideal. This is eco-friendly and economical. Just make sure to tie neatly as to not spoil the beauty of your roses. Also, remember to tie them loosely to give more room to grow.

Final Thoughts On How To Grow Climbing Roses

To enjoy the beauty and elegance of delicate roses, a grower must know how to provide the best care they require to make the most out of them.

Roses need to be watered frequently in the first two years of their growing period. You can also feed them with balanced plant food if necessary.

Unlike vines, roses don’t have tendrils to help them cling onto the support. You can help and train them by providing a sturdy tie and gradually guide them to follow the right path you want them to take.

Since roses take several years to reach maturity and have sturdy climbing canes, pruning them can help remove diseased stems, spindly branches, and undeveloped rotting flower buds, particularly in the first three years after planting. However, pruning during the dormant season is always the best time to achieve such tasks.

Providing mulch about a few inches deep around the base of your plant will help retain soil moisture.

And adding more mulch around the base in the late fall will provide extra protection from the freezing winter.

However, when the ground begins to warm in spring, the removal of excess mulch is essential.

While most climbing roses are a disease-resistant breed compared to other shrub families, they are still susceptible to decay and other fungal infection, particularly when regularly exposed to over-watering.

There you have the comprehensive guide you can consider if you would like to grow climbing roses successfully.

Whether you grow roses from bare-root or seeds, whatever approach you may want to try, we are excited to hear your story. So don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us by commenting below.


About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

View all posts by Benita Abucejo →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *