A Guide To Identify Climbing Roses

How To Identify Climbing Roses With Ease

Welcome to the world of climbing roses, where beauty intertwines with nature’s elegance. If you’re a new buyer searching for your first climbing rose, we’ll explore the differences between climbing roses and rambling roses, it’s essential to understand the differences between climbing roses and rambling roses, how to choose the right one, the best practices for care and maintenance.

To determine if a rose is a climber, you can look for the following characteristics:

  1. Growth Habit: Climbing roses have long, flexible canes that can be trained to grow vertically along a support structure such as a trellis, fence, or wall. Unlike bush roses, climbers have a more sprawling growth habit.
  1. Prickles: Climbing roses typically have sturdy, sharp prickles along their stems. These prickles help the rose plant cling to and climb up the support structure.
  1. Longer Canes: Climbing roses tend to develop longer canes compared to other rose varieties. These canes can grow several feet in length and are more flexible, allowing them to be trained and tied to a support structure.
  1. Repeat Blooming: While not exclusive to climbers, many climbing rose varieties are repeat bloomers. They produce flowers not only in spring but throughout the growing season, providing a longer display of blooms.
  1. Check the Label or Ask an Expert: If you are unsure about the type of rose you have, you can refer to the label provided when you purchased the rose or consult with a knowledgeable gardener or a local nursery. They can help you identify the specific variety and clarify if it is indeed a climber.

Climbing Roses Vs. Rambling Roses: Choosing The Perfect Bloom For Your Garden

Understanding Climbing Roses vs. Rambling Roses

Did you know? Climbing roses and rambling roses may appear similar, but they differ in various ways. Climbing roses typically have stiffer canes and repeat-blooming flowers, making them ideal for training against structures like walls, trellises, or fences. Rambling roses, on the other hand, feature long, flexible canes and usually bloom once a year, making them perfect for draping over arches or scrambling through trees. Climbers tend to bloom repeatedly throughout the season, while ramblers typically have one abundant flush of flowers.

Choosing the Right Climbing Rose

Consider your available space, whether it’s a wall, trellis, or pergola. Determine the purpose of your rose, be it a focal point, a fragrant addition, a colourful backdrop, or would you like your climbing rose to provide privacy or shade? Evaluate the size of your garden and the specific area where you want to grow your climbing rose.

Some varieties can reach great heights, while others are more compact and suitable for smaller spaces. Additionally, assess your climate and growing conditions (i.e. can thrive in the available sunlight, soil type, and moisture levels) to select a variety that thrives in your specific area.

Roses That Can Be Trained Both Ways

If you desire versatility, several rose varieties can be trained as both shrubs and climbers. Examples include ‘New Dawn,’ ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ and ‘Cecile Brunner.’ These multifaceted roses offer the flexibility to adapt to your garden’s needs, allowing you to enjoy their beauty in various ways.

Supporting Structures for Climbing Roses

When it comes to supporting climbing roses, various structures can be employed. Options include trellises, arches, fences, or walls. These not only provide support but also enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your garden. Ensure the structure is sturdy and can withstand the weight of the rose as it grows. Attaching methods, such as using garden twine or soft ties, are gentle on the canes and prevent damage.

Best Way to Train Climbing Roses

  • Selecting the main canes: Identify the strongest, healthiest canes and remove any weak or damaged ones.
  • Tying and training: Gently tie the selected canes to the supporting structure, spreading them out to encourage even growth and proper air circulation.
  • Regular pruning and maintenance: Prune your climbing rose annually to remove dead or crossing branches and promote new growth.

Maintenance of Climbing Roses

  • Watering and irrigation: Climbing roses are generally easy to maintain. Provide regular and consistent watering, especially during dry periods. Ensure the soil is well-drained to prevent waterlogged conditions.
  • Fertilizing climbing roses: Apply a balanced rose fertilizer in spring and again after the first bloom cycle to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
  • Preventing and treating black spot disease: Monitor your rose for black spot, a common fungal disease. Regularly inspect the leaves, and if necessary, apply appropriate fungicides as recommended.
  • Deadheading for more flowers: Remove faded blooms by cutting just above a healthy outward-facing bud, stimulating the production of new blooms.

Choosing and Buying Climbing Roses

  • Quality and health of the plant: When purchasing a climbing rose, prioritize quality and health. Look for roses with well-developed canes, healthy foliage, and no signs of pests or diseases.
  • Desired colour and fragrance: Consider the colour and fragrance that will complement your garden and bring you joy.
  • Resistant varieties and disease tolerance: Choose rose varieties known for their disease resistance to minimize the need for chemical treatments.

Establishing Climbing Roses

  • Time required for establishment: Climbing roses typically take a couple of years to establish and reach their full potential, but typically they require a few years to reach their full potential.
  • Watering and care during the establishment phase: Provide regular watering, mulch the base of the plant to conserve moisture, and protect young canes from harsh weather conditions (i.e. strong winds and extreme temperatures).

Pruning Climbing Roses

  • Pruning time: Prune climbing roses during late winter (when the risk of frost has passed) or early spring before new growth emerges.
  • Pruning considerations in the first year: It’s generally recommended to avoid heavy pruning, focus on shaping the rose by removing any weak or crossing canes and maintaining a balanced framework.  
  • Cutting back to the ground: In some cases, older or poorly performing climbing roses can be rejuvenated by cutting them back to the ground. However, this should be done with caution because it may take some time to recover.


By understanding the differences between climbing and rambling roses, choosing the right variety, providing proper support, and implementing regular care and maintenance, you’ll create a breath-taking display of cascading blossoms. Enjoy the beauty and splendour that these magnificent climbers bring to your garden!