What are you looking for in a climbing rose? Frequently a gardener will decide they want a climbing rose for an area and then select one based on color. However, finding a rose with the right climbing habit is also important since it will make your rose easier to train as it grows.
True large climbers can become massive and grow very tall. They have thick firm canes that can be difficult to bend into a vertical shape. These types of roses wouldn’t be appropriate for a fence or small arbor. However, if you wanted to cover a section of a house, they’re an excellent choice. Years ago I had a pink unidentified climber that grew up the front of my house and then bloomed across the roof! Vigorous climbing roses are truly not appropraite for a small area. “Newport Fairy” is a beautiful hybrid wichuraiana. This rose forms a massive climber that will reach twenty to thirty feet both vertically and horizontally. If your climate is warm “Newport Fairy” will actually form a large trunk that resembles a tree. The blooms resemble large, charming, clusters of apple blossoms.
Ramblers are another type of rose that can also be trained into a climbing pattern. These roses have a tendency to get a bit wild, but can maintain just about any shape with regular pruning. Ramblers are often an excellent choice for a fence or base of a tree that receives full sun. If you have a large area to fill you can just let them go, and allow them to fill out the space. Most ramblers bloom only once, so if you’d like flowers throughout the year be sure to do your research and choose a repeat bloomer. “Snow Goose” is a white, repeat blooming, rambler that was introduced by David Austin in 1996. This is a small versatile rambler that can be used to cover a fence, arbor, pillar or even trained as a ground cover.
My personal favorite for a climbing style of rose is one somewhere in between a climber and a rambler. One can often find mannered, easy to train roses that will bloom throughout the growing season. Small to no thorns are also a bonus in my opinion. It’s much easier to train and prune a rose without huge thorns! “Climbing Pinkie” is a climbing polyantha that is also an Earth Kind Rose. It’s a well mannered, almost thornless climber that can be trained up to ten feet. This rose blooms well throughout the growing season and being an Earth Kind Rose, is also very disease resistant. “Climbing Pinkie” can be used in just about any situation and has characteristics of both a climber and a rambler.
Selecting a climbing rose is easy. With just a bit of research you can find one that is not only the right color but also the right fit for your planting site. Your extra effort now will pay off whether you decide to prune and train your new rose or to simply let it ramble and climb freely. Every sunny space has the perfect climbing or rambling rose just waiting to fill it.