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How to Support Climbing Roses

Updated March 23, 2017

Abundant climbing roses that clamber up walls and tumble over fences and garden arches add a lush, old-fashioned ambience to the garden and can contribute to the sense of the garden being a room: where there was nothing but air, a rose-covered arch or free-standing trellis adds architecture. In the British Isles, people are fond of training climbing roses over windows and doorways--a charming, inviting look that you can try, too, as long as you choose species that will stand up to the hot sun.

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  1. Prune spent flower heads, but leave the canes intact on plants that are less than three years old. The University of California Cooperative Extension says that young climbing roses should be pruned as little as possible, and preferably not at all.

  2. Train the canes of a climbing rose onto a garden arch or fence by fanning them out, one by one. In the same fashion, you can also train roses onto a wall-mounted trellis or freestanding trellis that is firmly anchored into the ground. Wear leather garden gloves to handle the canes, which are thorny. The canes should not cross each other.

  3. Tie each cane to the support system with a soft tie. Garden twine is economical and works well, and if you use green garden twine it will disappear among the leaves. Pieces of pantyhose or ribbons of fabric also work well, but may show.

  4. Install trellises to the roof, near its edge, if you are training roses over a window or doorway, once the canes are tall enough.

  5. Tip

    If you are using a wall-mounted trellis, choose one that allows air to circulate behind it. For example, some new trellises are bowed, but you can also mount a traditional flat trellis to a spacer that you screw into the wall before mounting the trellis.


    Mildew, blackspot, or spider mites may become a problem if you do not allow space for air circulation behind a wall-mounted trellis, according to horticulturist William C. Welch, PhD, of Texas A&M University.

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Things You'll Need

  • Support system
  • Leather garden gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Ties

About the Author

Cat Reynolds has written professionally since 1990. She has worked in academe (teaching and administration), real estate and has owned a private tutoring business. She is also a poet and recipient of the Discover/The Nation Award. Her work can be found in literary publications and on various blogs. Reynolds holds a Master of Arts in writing and literature from Purdue University.

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