Growing ‘New Dawn’ Climbing Rose


‘New Dawn’ is a modern, large-flowered, climbing rose that is blush-pink and free flowering. It is very popular among gardeners.

I think if you grow roses, at some point you will grow ‘New Dawn’. It’s almost a rule. It’s a lovely rose, and one can’t help but be romanced by it when seeing it rambling over a trellis or support with clouds of pink billowing around glossy green leaves. My husband described it as the “perfect fairy-tale rose” due to it’s flowing shape, blush-pink blossoms, and not-to-be-reckoned-with thorns. I, too, fell under it’s spell and years ago planted one in a former garden hoping for the best.

‘New Dawn’ grows against a masonry wall in the H.O. Smith Botanical Garden at The Penn State Arboretum.

Unfortunately, that particular ‘New Dawn’ never reached heights of more than 2 feet and was diseased and feeble even though the rest of my roses were quite happy. When I left that garden, my ‘New Dawn’ rose was all but dead, but I didn’t give up; at my next home, I purchased another plant and tried again. This time, it grew a little better, but not by much (again my other roses were happy so this was very discouraging). So, when I moved a 3rd time, to the garden I tend to now, I brought my ‘New Dawn’ with me and thought OK, this is the last chance; if it doesn’t do well for me this time I give up. Guess, what? It’s doing great! (Edit: Not so great anymore! Please see Edit, below.)

New Dawn’ has epic thorns straight out of a fairy-tale.

While I have always read that ‘New Dawn’ is a rampant, healthy grower, that just wasn’t the case for me. So, based on my experience, I’ve deduced that when it comes to this rose, it’s all about location, location, location. Since I moved it to a protected, warm area in a south-facing position against our home, I have seen in triple in size within the last 2 summers. We live in a zone 6 location (and my former gardens were in zone 5), and although this rose is listed as being hardy from zones 5-9, I think it prefers a warmer climate, or at least the illusion of one in mini-zones around your garden.

‘New Dawn’ blossoms are semi-double, lightly fragrant, and start out blush pink fading to almost white at the end of the bloom cycle revealing prominent yellow stamens.

‘New Dawn’ is a sport (mutation) of ‘Dr. Van Fleet’ rose and was introduced in 1930 by Henry Dreer. Because most New Dawns are repeat-flowering, it is often referred to as a “repeat-blooming Dr. Van Fleet.” (I say “most” because due to careless breeding some ‘New Dawn’ roses are not repeat-flowering. To ensure you are getting a repeat-flowering ‘New Dawn’, buy from a reputable grower).

This is a ‘Dr. Van Fleet’ rose currently growing in our garden. The obvious parentage to New Dawn is striking.

‘New Dawn’ is a modern (any rose hybridized after 1867 is considered “modern”) Wichurana climbing rose. It’s blossoms are free-flowering and are generally produced in clusters. They each are semi-double, lightly fragrant, and bear approximately 35 petals which start out blush pink and fade to almost white at the end of the bloom cycle revealing prominent yellow stamens. The foliage is very glossy and medium to dark green; quite healthy it is disease resistant, but in my experience can be susceptible to black-spot in wetter conditions (especially in the fall). (Please see Edit below about disease resistance!)

‘New Dawn’ blooms on last year’s growth, so pruning should be done immediately after flowering or not at all.

‘New Dawn’ will need a strong support as it can grow to heights of 15-20 feet! We have ours supported against a  trellis and it is currently approximately 8 feet in height and weaving among a landscape rose which I am also training against that trellis. It blooms on last year’s wood so pruning should be done immediately after flowering, or not at all. Because of my problems in the past with this rose, I plan on just leaving it alone as much as possible since it’s finally happy!

‘New Dawn’ happily grows alongside a landscape rose I am training as a climber against the side of our house. You can’t see it in this picture, but there is a clematis planted along with these two roses.

Should ‘New Dawn’ be grown against the outer wall of your home (and this is true for any climbing rose), it should be spaced about a foot away so that is does not fall underneath the protection of the roof and can get rain to it’s roots while it gets established. Canes should be trained horizontally (wear leather gloves; those thorns mean business) to promote side branching and lots of flowers. Our ‘New Dawn’ flowers heavily in June and then sporadically the rest of the season.

‘New Dawn’ is rated by the American Rose Society as a very good to excellent rose.

Do you grow ‘New Dawn’? I’d love to hear if you experienced similar problems getting yours started, or if you have any growing tips!

EDIT: (Spring ’12) I just left this in the comments, but I’ll put it here, too. We had a really bad case of powdery mildew on this rose this spring. I mean, it was so covered it looked like the rose was made of white felt. I did try a consistent course of “Green Cure” but after several weeks, it didn’t clear up and the mildew was spreading to other roses. We ended up removing it because it was taking up valuable garden real estate and I don’t like roses I have to coddle and spray to keep alive. Too many others to try! 

19 thoughts on “Growing ‘New Dawn’ Climbing Rose

  1. New Dawn is a favorite rose in the deep south. P. Allen Smith says you can’t “sling a dead cat in Little Rock without hitting a New Dawn”…. I do not grow this rose, but know many who do. Most grow on arbors in full sun and do quite well.

  2. Great to see a PA Smith fan comment – Love the “dead cat” line. I too learned about this rose on the Smith show as seen daily in LA and plan to plant 2 this Mother’s day weekend based on his recommendations. Thanks for the info!

  3. We planted our New Dawn thornless rose last year. It really took off,but this year it has a fungus. We went back to the garden center with some questions and purchased the recommended treatment spray Daconil. So we’ll see if prayer & Daconil will work. I sure hope so because she sure makes me smile. I sure would love some advise if anyone can help a sista in need

    1. That’s really interesting because the same thing happened to us: Last year our ‘New Dawn’ looked amazing, yet this spring it got a really, REALLY bad case of powdery mildew and I ended up removing it. Good luck with yours, I hope it clears up!

  4. I just purchased one this year for the arbor in my Angel Garden and already seeing buds. I’m assuming it’ll take a few years for it to start climbing??

    1. Hi Joanne. I’ve had mixed results with ‘New Dawn’ but I can tell you that it took a few seasons before she really hit her stride and threw out long enough canes to be trained against a trellis. I’ve seen established plants get quite large so be prepared. 😉 Good luck!

  5. Hi,
    I am tempted to launch myself into rose growing. I am so in love with this rose from the pictures I have seen on-line.
    I also read a lot of reviews where people were complaining about the fact that they only get one bloom a year.
    You also mentioned that and recommended to buy from a reputable grower. Can you recommend one?
    I will be purchasing on-line. Thank you. S.

    1. Hi Simona. Sure thing! I purchase the majority of my roses from David Austin, Heirloom Roses and Vintage Gardens. I use the Help Me Find database daily to research roses before I purchase to see what other gardeners are saying about them. I cannot recommend this resource enough. Roses need lots of sunlight, rich, organic soil and are heavy feeders during the growing/blooming season so fertilizing with an organic fertilizer (I like to use a manure tea) is important to keep them looking and blooming their best. Good luck!

  6. We have two New Dawn plantings that are 56 years old. Zone 4/5, upstate New York.

    Never sprayed, rarely pruned. Still blooming profusely, in part-shade. And repeat-blooming (second flush), many years though not all. Occasionally produces stray late blooms into November. In Upstate New York.

    1. Ellen, my husband is restoring a 110 year-old home in NE Nebraska, and I am an avid gardener. I try to use what I consider to be old-fashioned flowers but have shied from roses. Your experiences and your description of the roses in your garden sound exactly what I had been looking for when I began exploring the traits of the New Dawn. This is true of the roses’ place in your garden and your overall climatic conditions.

      Do yours follow the same vigorous growing habits that have been described by others on this site? If so, do you know where yours came from? Do you think that planting two has played a role in keeping them so happy?

      Thank you for any input that you can provide. Mary

  7. Hi there,

    I am still debating. It’s scorching heat right now in Oklahoma where I live (zone 7 b).
    Do you think New Dawn could withstand 100 to 108 temps in summer?
    Or is there another climber that does well in summer heat?
    I know that roses like sun and a lot of it but this extreme heat??
    Thanks, S.

    1. Hi Simona. I’m not sure I would ever recommend ‘New Dawn’ anymore simply because I’ve had such mixed experiences with it, and as a matter of fact no longer grow it due to it’s recent susceptibility to fungal diseases. However, that being said, I’ve heard that a lot of southern and midwest gardeners have found success with it so it may be worth a try. I recommend that for any rose growing where temperatures can get quite hot to plant it in a location where it will receive morning/early afternoon sun and shade for the rest of the day. Plant with a lot of organic material, mulch well, and keep up with regular waterings especially as it is becoming established in it’s first year or two. For further information, you may like to check out the Texas A&M website which conducts rose trials. They have a nice list of Earth Kind roses which are very rugged HERE and this thread HERE on Garden Web’s forum may interest you. Last, you may like to check out Redneck Rosarians blog found HERE. He gardens in the deep south (Alabama) so might have some recommendations for you. Good luck!

  8. Hi there! If anyone is interested, I grow “New Dawn” in southern Australia, where we normally get hot and dry summers. It has never needing coddling and is now rampant (even after 11 years of drought), and I was actually looking for design ideas for structures to support it. I didn’t realize it would grow as big as it has! I love it though, it gets covered in flowers and repeats well – now I just need to control it!

  9. Hi there! These roses are very beautiful. Is it possible to ask for some seeds so I can grow my own? I am from the Philippines.

    Happy holidays!!!

    1. Hi Anne, thank you for your comment. If you ever try your hand at growing roses from seed, here’s a tip: hybridized roses do not grow “true” from seed. In other words, the plant you may get won’t be like it’s parent (unless it’s a species rose). You may get something wonderful, or you may get a real dud. If you’re interested in growing a specific rose, I suggest getting a cutting from another gardener which will give you the same genetic material as the parent plant (so it actually will be the same rose) or simply purchasing one that’s already rooted from a reputable grower. (PS, I no longer grow ‘New Dawn’). Good Luck!

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