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What are Climbing Roses?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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Climbing roses are a diverse group of roses that contain quite old and very new varieties. They are called climbing because of their growth and behavior. The rose canes can grow very tall and bend and flex easily, so the roses can be trained. This allows the plants to grow over trellises, fences, and sometimes even roofs and can create an impressive flowery show.

When ordering roses, those that are climbing roses may be marked with a "cl" designation. There are some forms of presently popular roses that have a climbing form, as well as those roses known mostly as climbers or sometimes ramblers. These include the Mlle. Cecile Bruner, which has small pink blooms in early spring and a heady fragrance.

Some distinction may be made between climbers and ramblers. The climbers of today usually have canes that don't greatly exceed 10 feet (3.05 m), and they usually have more than one blooming per season. Ramblers tend to have longer canes. When ramblers bloom, the flowers have generally been generated on the growth that was accomplished the previous year. This makes pruning important; early spring pruning on many ramblers, if it is dramatic, would mean forgoing a year's bloom cycle. Fortunately with both types of roses, gardeners may not have to do much pruning in the first few years after the rose is planted.

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Whether people choose climbing roses or rambling roses for their garden may depend on what they want to accomplish. Ramblers are a bit sturdier and tenacious and will grow to high heights. Many can easily climb up a wall of a two-story house or weave around mid-height trees. Climbing roses can be trained to grow to mid-height and may be particularly suited for growth on trellises.

This issue of training can be very important. Both rambling and climbing roses typically need to be attached in place to things like trellises, or they may pursue their own direction. Training may take a few years too, and often involves affixing parts of the rose growth to a stable structure like a trellis. Some form of tie is used that will help the growth stay in place without damaging it. There are lots of opinions on what makes the best ties, and gardening stores or books on growing roses can be good sources of information on this subject.

When people are patient, have planted the rose in an ideal location, and have done the work of training, the result in a few years time can be magnificent. Climbing roses in virtually any rose color or color variation are available. People can choose the white climbing Iceberg, the yellow Rosa Banksiae Lutea, and the red Blaze Rose. For additional color, a climbing Joseph's Coat is a good choice. Those looking might also find many newer varieties of roses in climbing form; local nurseries and reputable online ones are excellent resources to get the biggest selection.

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