A PRIMER FOR CLIMBING ROSES
Portland, Oregon-based fine gardener Laura Wisdom, owner of Pleasant Views by Laura, has developed a foolproof approach to caring for climbing roses. According to Wisdom, the appeal of climbing roses is that they produce more flowers on horizontal branches. “So I encourage flower production by training or bending new canes to the form of the arbor,” she says.
The largest category of modern climbing roses contains tall-growing versions of shrub roses, likely to reach 8–12 feet. There are ramblers and hybrid tea roses that can also be trained as climbing roses.
Some of Wisdom’s advice for growing luxurious drifts of roses over arbors includes:
• Select a sturdy structure made of metal or wood that’s well-anchored to a wall or has stable footings. Unlike vines that twine, climbers require tying and support.
• Consider arbors with double arches and side bracing, which provides additional stability.
• In the fall, prune lateral side canes to 12 inches from the central cane.
• In late winter, trim back the side canes further, to 5–8 inches, removing canes damaged by winter storms. “When I’m finished pruning the rose, it looks like a series of little antlers along the plant’s main scaffold around the arch,” Wisdom says.
• As new canes emerge, train them along the arch, securing sections with jute twine. Do this when new canes are pliable and not brittle.
• Because roses typically grow toward the sun, you may need to train some canes toward the shadier side of an arbor in order to encourage a balanced appearance. “I bend new canes along both sides and tie them to the arbor or adjacent canes,” Wisdom says.
• Deadhead blooms as they die to keep a fresh appearance.
• Feed with an organic fertilizer, and regularly remove damaged foliage and blooms.