How to Plant and Grow Climbing Rose

It's almost impossible to imagine a cottage garden without these romantic plants.

Climbing roses develop long canes well-suited to trailing on pillars, fences, arbors, and gazebos. They produce either large, single flowers or clustered blooms on a stem. Climbers can be trained to bloom more heavily by leading their canes in a horizontal direction. Anchoring them loosely to a support structure will encourage young plants to climb.

pink new dawn roses
Doug Hetherington.

Climbing roses work their way over an arbor gate or fence or up a quaint brick facade. While climbing roses may seem a little daunting, these graceful flowers are easy to grow, creating a cottage feel.

Climbing rose blooms tend to have one very heavy bloom in spring and then sporadic blooms throughout the rest of the growing season. How they bloom depends on the variety planted. Regular deadheading of the flowers can encourage continuous blooming. If you decide to prune your plants in winter before the initial bloom, you can increase the number of blooms you get later on. These perennials are hardy in Zones 4-11.

Climbing Rose Overview

Genus Name Rosa
Common Name Climbing Rose
Plant Type Rose
Light Sun
Height 3 to 20 feet
Width 1 to 6 feet
Flower Color Blue, Orange, Pink, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Attracts Birds, Fragrance
Zones 10, 11, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Good For Privacy

Where to Plant Climbing Roses

Climbing roses need a support, such as a trellis, arbor, pergola, or fence, and they need plenty of room to spread out and get the airflow they need to stay healthy. They don't climb like a vine and can't support themselves, so gardeners often need to tie the roses to a support at several points.

Plant climbing roses where they receive full sun for most of the day. They need well-draining soil that is rich and loamy. If needed, amend the soil with compost or other organic material before planting.

How and When to Plant Climbing Roses

The best way to start with climbing roses is as bare-root plants. Plant in late winter or early spring when the soil isn't frozen or soggy from winter snow. That gives the roots time to become established before the hot summer months. Bare-root plants easily acclimate to new soil since they're not being transplanted from other planting mediums.

Don't wait too long to start training the rose to the support; the stems can become woody and tricky to work with. In most cases, simple ties of natural jute twine or another soft material will do the trick. If you want to train the rose up a wall or solid surface, you'll need to attach a trellis or support system a few inches away from the wall. The rose won't climb a hard, smooth surface without a support. It also allows some space behind the plants to promote good airflow.

If the soil in the planting area isn't well-draining, amend it with compost or well-rotted organic matter. Soak the roots of a bare-root rose in water for a couple of hours before planting. Dig a hole about 18 inches by 18 inches and form a mound of soil at the bottom of the hole. Position the rose so that the roots spread loosely over the mound. The graft should be at soil level. Backfill the hole with soil and lightly press down with your hands. Water the plant.

Climbing Rose Care Tips

Climbing roses need much of the same care as regular rose bushes do.


Roses can tolerate some shade, but they do best where they get full sun for four to six hours a day, producing bigger and fuller groups of flowers.

Soil and Water

Rich, loamy soil is best for roses. If your soil is lacking, enhance it with fertilizer or compost. They prefer moist soil with a neutral to alkaline pH. Soil should be well-draining. Roses need about 2 gallons of water per plant each week, but be careful not to overwater, which can cause root rot.

Temperature and Humidity

Ideal temperatures for climbing roses are between 50ºF and 80ºF. If temperatures get above 80ºF, make sure your roses get some afternoon shade to protect them from the heat. Similarly, if temperatures dip below 32ºF, provide coverage for your plants, but don't cover them too early in the season. Wait until the first frost.


When first planting climbing roses, add compost to the soil. After the plants have been established, use a balanced fertilizer every two to three weeks, following manufacturer's instructions. When the weather starts to cool, stop fertilizing about eight weeks before the first frost date to limit new growth that can be damaged by the cold.


In a year or two. when your climbing rose is established, you can begin regularly pruning plants. Typically, you need to prune your climbing rose only once a year after the first main flush of blooms. This is a good time to address any diseased or damaged canes and make pruning cuts to help improve airflow or direct future growth. Avoid pruning rose bushes in the fall, since pruning stimulates new growth.

Potting and Repotting Climbing Roses

Like rose bushes, climbing roses do well when planted in a pot. The pot needs to be large, at least seven to 10 gallons, since climbing roses grow vigorously and spread up and out. Potted roses need support just like garden roses. If the rose is a small type, support can be provided by a small trellis inserted in the pot at planting time, but if the rose is a standard size, a location adjacent to a trellis or fence is a better choice than an in-pot support to avoid a top-heavy pot.

Use a mixture of peat moss, potting soil, and mulch, and fill the pot halfway up. When planting the rose, keep the bud union (where the cane meets the roots) 2 inches from the top of the soil. Water regularly, or set up a drip irrigation system to keep the soil moist.

Pests and Problems

As with any rose, disease prevention is key to healthy plants. Make sure to clean up any old leaf debris from previous years' growth in the spring. Airflow and sunlight are key to preventing fungus. The main downfalls of roses are various fungal pathogens.

Roses are also susceptible to many other pests, particularly aphids and Japanese beetles. Luckily these garden pests are easy to treat with insecticidal soap (or pick them off and throw them in a bucket of soapy water). You can also give them a hearty blast of water to knock them off plants.

How to Propagate Climbing Roses

Propagating climbing roses is easy and the best way to grow more roses for your garden.

To propagate a climbing rose, cut an 8-to-12-inch semi-ripe stem from the current year's growth in late spring or summer, making the cut right below a set of leaves. Remove any flowers and leaves except for a leaf or two at the top of the cutting. Prepare a small pot with a mixture of compost and perlite and make a hole in the center of the planting medium with a pencil. Dip the base of the cutting in rooting hormone and place several inches of the stem in the pot without rubbing off the rooting hormone. Gently firm the planting medium around the base of the cutting with your fingers and add a humidity cover such as a dome or plastic bag.

Check the cutting periodically, keeping the planting medium moist but not wet. Watch for roots coming out of the drainage hole or give a leaf a gentle tug; if you feel resistance, the cutting has rooted. Once roots begin to grow, remove the humidity cover. After about nine months, the propagated stems will be ready to plant in the ground.

Types of Climbing Rose

'Alberic Barbier' Climbing Rose


Rosa 'Alberic Barbier' was bred in 1900 and is still popular today. This charming climber offers pale yellow buds unfurling to warm ivory flowers that are double in form and scented with a green apple fragrance. Vigorous and rambling, the plant grows 15-20 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 5-9.

'Altissimo' Climbing Rose

altissimo large flowered climber rose
Doug Hetherington

Rosa 'Altissimo' has large single red flowers that glow like embers against the medium green foliage. It blooms repeatedly through the season. The disease-resistant plant grows vigorously 6-10 feet tall. This French-bred variety is hardy in Zones 5-9.

'America' Climbing Rose

Apricot Roses
Richard Baer

Rosa 'America' marked the beginning of the modern climber class and won the 1976 All-America Rose Selections award. Large, pointed buds unfurl to many-petaled, coral-pink blooms that show their 'Fragrant Cloud' heritage. The flowers are produced in sprays and have a spicy fragrance. Upright, disease-resistant plants can be slow to start climbing. They grow 8-16 feet tall and are hardy in Zones 6-9.

'Climbing Snowbird' Rose

Rosa Climbing Snowbird rose
Denny Schrock

Rosa 'Climbing Snowbird' is a vigorous climber with a high-centered white flower. It is exceptionally fragrant. Like other white roses, it is breathtaking in evening light. Zones 7-9

'Don Juan' Climbing Rose

Don Juan Rose

Rosa 'Don Juan' is an all-time favorite red-flowered climber. It's a plush, hybrid tea-style bloom with a tart, citrusy fragrance, glossy, disease-free foliage, and reblooming vigor. Foliage color is a velvety dark green, and the open flowers are cupped. It climbs 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 5-9

'Eden' Climbing Rose

Eden Roses
Mary Carolyn Pindar

Rosa 'Eden' has huge blooms that appear profusely throughout the season. The flowers are composed of up to 100 petals tinted in shades of pale pink, cream, and soft yellow. Extremely hardy, the plant lends itself well to arbors, trellises, and fences in colder climates. It climbs 10 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Zones 5-9

'Joseph's Coat' Climbing Rose

josephs coat rose
Doug Hetherington

Rosa 'Joseph's Coat' is a dependable climber for many climates, offering cupped, semidouble blooms of yellow blended with cherry red. The plant grows 12 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Zones 5-10

'Golden Showers' Climbing Rose

golden showers climbing rose
Doug Hetherington

Rosa 'Golden Showers' is always in bloom. The ruffled, semidouble flowers grow throughout the season with a light fragrance. Plants grow 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Zones 8-10

'New Dawn' Climbing Rose

pink new dawn roses
Doug Hetherington

This repeat-blooming variety features lush, petal-packed blooms of the softest pink. The sweetly fragrant flowers are clustered on long, strong stems. It grows 18 feet tall and is disease resistant. Zones 5-9

'Fourth of July' Climbing Rose

Fourth of July rose
Edward Gohlich

Rosa 'Fourth of July' is an award-winning variety with semidouble, ruffled red and white striped flowers. Blooms repeat continually and yield to large orange hips in fall. It climbs 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide in milder climates but will remain shrubby in colder regions. Zones 5-10

'Sombreuil' Climbing Rose

Sombreuil white roses
Michael Mckinley

Rosa 'Sombreuil' features fully double blooms in a warm ivory peach from late spring through fall. Its fragrance is a sweet grapefruit-zest scent. The arching canes feature healthy, disease-resistant foliage. Plants grow to 10 feet tall. Zones 6-9

Climbing Rose Companion Plants

It's hard to compete with the beauty of a climbing rose, but these companion plants are up to the task.


Foxglove (Digitalis) is a classic cottage garden favorite loved for its towers of blooms. This biennial thrives in sun and partial sun locations. It dies after it blooms in its second year, but not before it self-seeds prolifically, guaranteeing its future reappearance in the garden. Foxglove grows 1-5 feet tall. Zone 3-10


Delphinium is another cottage garden favorite prized for adding the color blue to the perennial garden. It adds a strong vertical appearance with flower spikes that grow as tall as 7 feet. Zones 3-7


Low-maintence bellflower is a welcome addition to a garden bed. The bell-shaped flowers sometimes appear facing upward on mats of foliage and sometimes dangle in the breeze on upright plants that grow as tall as 6 feet. The bells are another option to add blue to the garden, although bellflower is available in other colors as well. Zone 3-10

Lady's Mantle

Ever-popular lady's mantle lends interesting texture to any landscape with its fuzzy, cup-like leaves that hold onto water droplets like little gems. Lady's mantle features dainty yellow flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer in airy masses above the foliage. It grows up to 3 feet tall. Zone 3-7

Climbing Rose Garden Plans

Front-Yard Rose Garden Plan

Front-Yard Rose Garden Plan
Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

Dress up your front yard (and front door) with this garden plan full of roses.

Easy-Care Rose Garden Plan

Easy Rose Garden Plan
Illustration by Tom Rosborough

These roses bloom all summer long and are practically carefree.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do any climbing roses grow in shade?

    No roses bloom prolifically in shade, but a few can flourish with as few as four to five hours of sunlight. 'New Dawn' and "Climbing Iceberg' are examples of shade-tolerant climbing roses.

  • How long does it take climbing roses to grow?

    It takes two to three years for climbing roses to reach their full height. It takes three to five years for them to mature and completely fill in. The secret with climbing roses is patience.

  • Do deer eat roses?

    Unfortunately, deer will eat roses. One way to keep them away from your roses is an ultrasonic deer repeller. You can also use a deer repellant spray, which is organic and usually can't be smelled by humans.

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