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How to Grow: Climbing Roses
Learn how to grow climbing roses including information on varieties and pruning.
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My mom loves roses, so I recently took her to Elizabeth Park in West Hartford. This is one of the first municipal rose gardens in the country. Started in 1904, it features 15,000 rose bushes and 800 varieties. And it’s in full bloom now.
One of the features of the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden is the climbing roses on the arches around the gazebo. When in full bloom, it’s stunning. No wonder brides want their wedding pictures taken here.
It got me thinking about growing climbing roses. You’ll need full sun, well-drained fertile soil, and a sturdy support to keep climbers looking great. There are many varieties to grow. ‘New Dawn’ is a classic with fragrant, double, blushed pink blooms that repeat flower in summer. It grows 12 to 15 feet tall and is resistant to the dreaded black spot disease. ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ is an old heirloom variety with double pink flowers on almost thornless, 10 foot tall stems. This everbloomer is hardy to zone 6, so best grown in protected spots or closer to the coast. For colder areas, try ‘William Baffin’. This Canadian climber grows 8 feet tall with single, deep pink flowers. It’s reliable in zone 5 gardens and reblooms in summer.
Once you find the right variety and location, feed your climbers monthly in summer with a rose food. Prune in late winter removing dead and diseased branches and spindly growth. Shorten lateral branches to 2 to 5 buds and favor horizontal branches. Those produce the most flowers. Plant clematis nearby so the vine climbs up the rose canes creating a multi-flower effect.
From the Connecticut Garden Journal