Growing Climbing Roses on a Trellis


As I sit here thinking of all the gardening projects I want to do this year, I will be growing climbing roses on a trellis. I actually purchased 4 garden gates with a trellis. One of them for sure will be the new home to one of the climbing rose bushes that was already here on the property. The rose bush needs to be moved for another project that is soon to be in the works.

Climbing Roses on pergola

History of Climbing Roses

Climbing roses have no common ancestor. The term “climbing rose” is usually understood to include rambling roses, often with large trusses of small flowers produced in a single flush mid-summer. As well as true climbing roses that tend to flower recurrently, Ramblers generally produce masses of very flexible canes and flower on year-old wood. Climbers, often more stiffly upright, flowers on new wood.

Rose Arch

In the wild, few roses are natural climbers, but there are several that make huge shrubs with long, flexible stems that are described botanically as scandent (ascending or loosely climbing). Such roses rapidly colonize any shrub or tree that impedes their progress by attaching themselves to the host plants by means of their sharp, hooked thorns.

Many climbing roses today have a Chinese species Rosa gigantea in their ancestry. The name says it all, this huge plant can reach 54 ft (16.5m) or more. Most modern climbing roses are more restrained. Many rambling roses have been derived rom a species found in Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan, that has lax stems that either trail or climb.

Kinds of Climbing Roses

  • Rambling Roses – Have large rampant roses with a single flush of flowers around mid-summer, often highly scented
  • Climbing Roses – Repeat flowering roses and subdivided by 3 types.
  • Large Climbers – These roses reach a height of 20 ft (6m) or more and are suitable for growing into trees, trellis or a pergola or against a wall.
  • Medium Climbers – These roses only reach a height of 16.5 ft (5m). Suitable for growing into trees, trellis, or a pergola.
  • Shorter Climbers – This is the largest group. Roses that normally stay below 13 ft (4m). Most are suitable for growing against a wall or on a trellis or pergola. Many are stiffly upright and are best grown against pillars. Some of these can be grown as a shrub with hard pruning.

How Roses Climb a Trellis

Having climbing roses climbing a trellis can be a huge visual impact for your garden. Climbing roses are aggressive growers. Most roses like full sun but some will do fine in mostly sun. When you first plant your climbing rose, it is recommended to wait a year or two before training the rose bush to get over any transplant shock. During the first year of your climbing rose, let the canes grow wild and remove any unsightly canes. The canes growing wild will be the canes that will be trained for year 2 and 3.

For spring-clean up of your climbing rose bush, remove all dead leaves, canes and any unsightly stuff. Some canes that appear brown are not necessarily dead, they may be old and woody. If they don’t produce may blossom, you may just want to remove them. Also in the spring, prune the roses that are not following where you want them to go.

Roses growing on Trellis

You will need to tie the canes to the trellis, that is the only way for them to stay. You can redirect the canes to the empty space to fill in the holes for more blossoms to fill in. When training the canes to climb, you will take one by one, by selecting healthy large canes and stems, bend them on to the structure. Use the gardening twine or tape and secure it to the trellis. As the canes and stems grow, continue to bend, and secure them to the structure to grow over top and over the trellis.

What is Needed to Care for Climbing Roses

  • Thick Gloves – puncture proof fr, om thorns
  • Hedge Trimmers
  • Hand Pruners
  • Garden twine or tape
  • Trellis, Arbor or Climber

Top 15 Climbing Roses

Large Climbers

  • Climbing Cecile Brunner – Introduced 1894, will grow 20 ft (6m) high and across, blooms most of the summer. Has large clusters of small fully double pale pink flowers, sweetly scented. Good choice for growing through a tree, it may be disappointing any other way due to the flowering is not always there.
  • Climbing Queen Elizabeth – introduced 1957, high-centered, fully double, clear-pink flowers with a light scent. Blooms from summer to autumn. The leaves are leathery and glossy. will grow 20 ft (6m) and spread 19 ft (3m).
  • Mermaid – Introduced 1918, will grow 20 ft (6m) high and across. Blossoms from mid-summer until autumn. Blossoms are single, pale yellow. Flowers are not abundant and needs shelter from hard frosts. Canes can be very thorny depending on the season.
  • Madame Gregoire Staechelin – Introduced 1927, will grow 20 ft (6m) high and 13 ft (4m) across. Blossoms in early summer with double, rounded, warm-pink flowers with slightly frilled petals. The Madame only flowers once, but at its peak it can be a large show. It has large, showy hips that redden in the fall.

Medium Climbers

  • Climbing Iceberg – Introduced 1968. will grow 16.5 ft (5m) or more high and across. Blossoms from summer to autumn. Clusters creamy white, cupped, double flowers with a light scent. The stems are virtually thornless and a good choice for a wall.
  • Climbing Ena Harkness – Introduced 1954, will grow 16.5 ft (5m) high and 8 ft (2.4m) across. The blossoms are fully double urn-shaped flower that is a rich scarlet red. Needs a warm sheltered spot to thrive best.
  • Desprez A Fleurs Jaunes – Introduced 1830, will grow 16.5 ft (5m) high and across. Summer blossoms, fully double quartered, warm creamy yellow flower that opens flat.
  • Climbing Peace – Introduced 1951, will grow 16.5 ft (5m) high and 4 ft (1.2m) across. Blossoms large fully double, creamy yellow flushed with pink and fragrant flower. Blooms summer to autumn.
  • Gloire De Dijon – Introduced 1853, will grow 16.5 ft (5m) high and 13 ft (4m) across. Blossoms fully double quartered-rosette buff apricot flowers that produce from summer to autumn. One of the oldest fragrant climbing roses also known as old glory rose.
  • Madame Alfred Carriere – Introduced 1879, will grow to 16.5 ft (5m) high and 10 ft (3m) across. Blossoms from summer to autumn with a creamy white double cupped, produced on thronless stems.

Garden gate with Roses

Shorter Climbers

  • Aloha – Introduced 1949, will grow 10 ft (3m) high and 8 ft (2.4m) across. The blossom is cupped, fully double, light pink, rain resistant flowers, bloom from summer to autumn. Suitable for growing in a container.
  • Blairii Number Two – Introduced 1845, will grow 13 ft (4m) high and 6.5 ft (2m) across. Produces an abundance of large, cupped, fully double flowers that are pale silvery-pink with deep pink centers.
  • Climbing Moon – Introduced 1964, it will grow 10 ft (3m) high and 6 ft (1.8m) across. Blossoms throughout the summer, produces fully double, scented, lilac-mauve flowers that appear bluer when in grown in full sun.
  • Louise Odier – Introduced 1851, will grow 8 ft (2.4m) high and 6 ft (1.8m) across. Blossoms from mid-summer to autumn. It produces clusters of cupped, fully double, strongly scented, lilac-tinted, warm pink flowers.
  • Old Blush China – Introduced 1752, will grow 8 ft (2.4m) high and 5 ft (1.5m) across. Blossoms from summer to early winter. It produces double, cupped, fragrant, clear pink flowers. Flowers until first frost.

Rambling Roses

Alberic Barbier – Introduced 1900, will grow to 16.5 ft (5m) high and 10 ft (3m) across. Blossoms early to mid-summer. It produces masses of double, rosette creamy white, scented flowers. Tolerates some shade.

Albertine – Introduced 1921, will grow to 16.5 ft (5m) high and 13 ft (4m) across. Blossoms fully double, cupped, heavily scented pink flowers. Most highly rated out of all ramblers because of the abundance of flowers and potent fragrance.

American Pillar – Introduced 1902, will grow 16.5 ft (5m) high and 8 ft (2.4m) across. Blossoms mid-summer and produces clusters of reddish-pink single flowers with white centers. This rose only flowers once, lacks scent and susceptible to mildew.

Bobbie James – Introduced 1961, will grow 30 ft (10m) high and 20 ft (6m) across. Blossoms are clusters of small white semi-double flowers that are sweetly scented. Good choice for growing into a large tree. Otherwise, plant where space permits.

Veilchenblau – Introduced 1909, will grow 13 ft (4m) high and across. Blossoms mid-summer with clusters of sweetly scented, sweet-double, violet-pink flowers with yellow stamens. The flowers will fade to purple-gray. Suitable for a small garden and relief from hot sun.

Climbing Roses in the Garden

There is nothing like seeing a cottage garden with an archway of beautiful roses in the summer. You can create a sitting area with a trellis or pergola for the roses to climb on. Chose a heavy scented varieties and plant them by a window for the scent to come in through the window of your home.

Roses on archClimbing roses can also be grown informally, but effectively, by allowing them to ramble through shrubs, such as lilacs, which are dull after their show of flowers in late spring. this is a form of wild gardening, since a strict pruning regime in such a situation would be impractical. You can trail a climbing rose up and over a wall to make a curtain of flowers on the other side, if you have a high garden wall.

Happy Planting!

I love roses and I am so pumped to get my garden gates put together with the trellis, I have 4 of them.  I may have to do 2 of them with roses.  I am doing one of them with a hardy kiwi vine, that post is coming in the near future.  I found it interesting you can add rambling roses with a liliac tree, that is a great idea with how the liliac is done so early in the year but had great green leaves, it would be a perfect match to have a rose bush ramble through the liliac.  I may need to do that too now.

I hope you found this post informative and helpful.  Do you have any climbing or rambling roses?  Let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in more post about roses check out The Romantic Rose Garden post.



Chris - FounderGardening Tips for Beginners

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8 thoughts on “Growing Climbing Roses on a Trellis”

  1. I think that roses are the most beautiful flowers in the garden.

    Unfortunately they do need a bit of looking after, as they are prone to black spot and greenfly.  But keep them sprayed regularly and they make a marvelous display.

    They flower for so long too.

    A large climbing rose will certainly bring the wow factor to any garden.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Geoff,

      Thank you for your comments.  I just purchased some garden gates with arbors for climbers and plan on trying 2 of the thornless climbers, for the entrance of my raised bed garden area.  I have never had thornless roses before.

  2. Hello there! Oh wow, this is really nice. I always imagine these structures present at weddings and banquets. It must feel really neat and amazing to walk through that tunnel of roses. The images you provided definitely prove that! I imagine that it also takes a lot of time and effort to maintain too? Perhaps during the fall or so when the petals fall to the floor? Thanks for creating this!

    • Hi Mike,

      Yes they are so beautiful and planning on having 2 garden gates with arbors with roses climbing on them.  I am so excited.  Thank you for your comments.

  3. Thank you so much, Chris, for this wonderful article. I love roses and thought that I had seen everything. But you make me astonished. I have a huge garden and would like to have a pergola for roses in my garden. With this article, I can choose my new favorite roses. Interesting website, I’m glad I found it. I will share it on my Pinterest and Facebook accounts. Thank you for your great work.

  4. I am not a gardening or plant lover, however my fiancé will love them. She is crazy about roses especially. She loves the red ones. Interesting how the roses grow like that. Would love to grow some in our garden to make it special for her.

     Is it possible to grow different rose colors? That would be something else.

    Can see you love roses and have done complete research about them. Thank you for sharing everyone your wisdom.

    • Hi Bernard,

      If you had a nice size trellis, you could grow one color on a side and another color on the other side and train them to grow up and over and eventually they would become intertwined with each other for a beautiful show.  Thank you for your comments.


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