How to Plant and Train a Climbing Rose

A pink climbing rose on a white fence.
  • 1-20 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-200
What You'll Need
Trellis or fence
Pruning shears
Plant ties

One of the most colorful and beautiful additions to a garden is the climbing rose. There are many types, in many colors that can match almost any garden makeup, and with loving care and a few skillful strategies, you can send the rose climbing over all kinds of areas like fences, trellises, and garden walls.


Select a color for your climbing rose that will blend with your existing garden. Even if you have a wild medley of blooms, some colors are better suited next to others. Once you have your rose bush in hand, it’s time to begin planning.


The climbing rose produces shoots of two natures. The main shoots are long structural canes from which the smaller shoots grow. Care must be taken to properly support this cane since this is what supports the remaining shoots. Consider first where you are going to place your climbing rose and then plan accordingly.

Since climbing roses produce more blooms when the structural cane is in a horizontal position, consider running the structural cane along a fence for maximum beauty. If this is not an option for your garden, then carefully select a trellis that is sturdy and appealing.


roses growing up a trellis

When selecting your trellis, think ahead. Take into account that the bush is going to grow considerably during its life. Mother Nature is also going to play her part, bandying the roses about in the wind and drenching them in the rain. The trellis needs to be strong enough to support the rose bush during those moments.

Additionally, unless the trellis is constructed from the right materials, it may experience some decay and trauma of its own. Consider what kind of materials will be best to use in your area before making your purchase. It is much more difficult to replace an existing trellis than it is to install it initially. Also, keep in mind that at some future time, additional pruning will be necessary, so you will need support that still allows plenty of access to the plant.


Roses growing up a pergola

Once you are ready to begin, assemble your tools and materials prior to actually beginning the work. This allows the task to move smoothly from one facet to the next without any distractions. The materials and tools needed for the job include: the plant, a trellis or fence, a shovel, pruning shears, fertilizer, and plant ties.

Install the support first, and anchor it firmly. Regardless of whether you’re using a trellis or creating a fence, once the rose bush begins to grow and put on weight and the winds begin to blow, it must be strong enough to support the plant’s weight. If you’re planting the climbing rose along an existing fence, just make sure that it has the anchor it needs. If not, you may need to remove and alter some of the fence’s support to create a good, solid foundation.

The placement of your trellis or fence should guarantee enough room for air circulation and maintenance of the rose bush. Be sure it is a few feet away from any permanent barriers and in a sheltered spot away from the wind if possible.

When planting the rose bush, dig a hole that is twice the width of the spread of its roots. The hole should be two feet deep, and the center of the hole should be approximately 18 to 30 inches away from the supporting trellis or fence.

Be sure to drape the roots and carefully cover them with loose soil. The graft union, or the part of the rose bush where the flowering canes joins the roots, should be planted slightly above the soil level in warmer climate regions. In cold climates, the graft union should be planted at the soil level, but it should be protected with a thick layer of mulch in winter.

Next, deeply water the rose bush. It is best to cover the immediate area surrounding the bush with compost and a rich fertilizer as well, and then water the rose bush a second time. Top this with a layer of mulch, taking care not to smother the trunk of the bush.

Now, tie the structural canes to the support structure. Use plant ties that are of a flexible or stretchy material so the vines can grow without the need for the ties to be constantly adjusted. Attempt to tie the canes on in a horizontal manner if possible. Leave some space between canes as well, and try to balance them evenly on your support structure. Any broken branches should be carefully removed with the pruning shears at this time.


For the first few years of growth, gardeners can allow the rose bush to grow freely. Take care to continue to remove any dead growth or broken branches. Once your plant has been established for several years, prune overcrowded canes to the base of the plant as well. Also, as new structural canes grow, tie them onto the trellis firmly.