Climbing Rose Supports
...and the top ten climbers!

Providing climbing rose supports is a requirement for the rose gardener who cultivates climbing rose varieties in the garden space. Whether you have just one climbing rose or many, here are some ideas and suggestions for your climbing rose supports.



Climbing rose supports can be many and varied, from formal to casual, from contemporary to ancient, from carefully designed to accidentally found and everything in between. The ideas for structures are only limited by your own imagination.

Generally they need to be strong enough to support a fully grown and bloom laden rose, high enough to accommodate the longest stems, and somewhat permanent. Once covered you will have major difficulties moving a rose arbor. Give some thought to the construction material as wood can rot...and what of the wood covering, paint or stain before you plant the roses!

Here are eight suggestions for supports, all of which I have seen being used successfully.

1...Wooden Trellis:

Climbing Rose SupportsYou can buy or make wooden trellis very easily. Cedar is best for long life and requires no painting. Anything else should be stained. They come in various shapes and can be attached or free standing as long as they are anchored well. Trellis can be built into simple arbors (three pieces) or used as screens (four by eight foot sheets!) or just as a simple ladder system.

Whatever the choice, make sure it will be large enough to espalier the fully grown bush or big enough to accommodate a fully grown climber. The biggest mistake I see is a fully grown climber engulfing a medium sized trellis that is way too small!

2...Wires:

Usually accompanied by poles or posts, wires can provide an easy way to string a climbing rose. The disadvantages are that the wire can get very hot and burn the leaves and eventually it will rust. If you can accommodate this two problems than wire is easily strung horizontally about 12 inches apart, or made into a grid with both vertical and horizontal wires. Tie them around the post but to stop them slipping down, pass them through a small hole drilled in the post itself. Aluminum wire would be the least likely to rust.

3...Ropes:

Just as wire can make a good structure so can rope. Hang in swags between posts and run the climber along it. Looks great but has a limited life span especially during wet winters. Don't forget that wet rope will dry out in the hot sun and go taut...allow for this change in the rope length or your posts will soon be pulled over.

4...Available Garden Structures:

some gardeners forget that their garden already has a few structures upon which their climbing roses could attach themselves. Your garden shed for example or a back wall of a greenhouse. Chances are your garden already has a fence surrounding it so use that. Any storage building, garage, overhang, garden seat or simple post could be the basis for your climbing rose structure. Do you have a garden windmill or a lamp-post or an old concrete statue?



Ten of the highest ranked, large bloom, climbers as recognized by the American Rose Society


[ Name | Color | A.R.S. Score out of 10 | * = my own favorites ]

Clair Matin Medium Pink 8.9

Royal Sunset Apricot Blend 8.9

City of York White 8.6

* Dublin Bay Medium Red 8.6

New dawn Light Pink 8.6

Altissimo Medium red 8.5

Compassion Medium Red 8.5

America Orange/Pink 8.3

Rhonda Medium Pink 8.3

* Don Juan Dark Red 8.2




5...Trees and Stumps:

I have seen several gardens where a climbing rose has been trained to run up and around an older, existing tree trunk, and more than one where a ground-cover, low growing rose has been planted to cover, and hide, an ugly tree stump. Be careful here that the rose doesn't strangle the tree and make sure the tree is large enough to handle the weight.

Also make sure the rose will get enough light and that the roots of the tree do not take away the goodness from the soil beneath, and leave the rose with nothing. Better to plant the climbing rose some distance away from the roots and then lean it towards the tree.

6...Walls:

Climbing Rose SupportObviously walls make good structures for training climbing roses especially free standing garden walls. Be careful with using the walls of your home. I would suggest not doing this but if you do, keep the stems away from the wall, at least a few inches, with wall clips and wire. This lets the stems breathe, dry out and stops them from burrowing into cracks in the wall itself. Tops of garden walls are good or construct a wire mesh some inches from the vertical surface and attach the stems to it.

7...The Unusual Object:

This would be a chance to get very original and use you artistic talents. I have seen old cars, telephone boxes, electrical boxes, telephone poles and drains, adorned with roses. Check before you plant, that you are planting on your own land (many electrical boxes for example are on municipal or state land!) and that others may need access. (sewer drains have to be kept available for opening, for example!) If it's feasible, an eyesore can often be turned into a visual pleasure with the help of a climbing rose and some patience.

8...Hedges:

Strange as it may seem, rose bushes can be used to form a hedge and therefore support themselves. You can use one rose bush to support another. Alternatively you could construct a simple open lattice fence or one of horizontal wires and espalier the climbing roses so they grow into each other somewhat, and this would eventually grow into a hedge.

A colorful hedge like this, of perhaps four or five climbing rose bushes could cover 30 or 40 feet and provide some privacy. Of course this would take some time and a little stem weaving but the results would be very special. Why have a bland wooden fence when you can have one that covers itself with rose blooms two or three times a year?

Climbing roses need some support to guide their growth and this can be used to great advantage. Whatever method you use, remember that the bush itself requires six hours of sun, food and water and some constructive fall pruning to achieve the success.

Climbing rose supports can provide an extra dimension to an already full garden space.



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