Growing a Flower Carpet® Rose as a Climber

July 2, 2011

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I once read a quote from a rosarian, which for me are words to live by: “I never interfere with a rose’s travels.” I wish that I remembered who it was that said that so I could give her credit, but those words have stuck with me over the years, and couldn’t be more apt in the case of this mystery rose I purchased and planted 2 seasons ago and which now engulfs the front of our home. {EDIT: I remembered who said it! It was Suzanne Bale, and the exact quote is, “I would never dream of interfering with a rose’s travels.”} An unlabeled, half-dead, bargain bin rose, I planted it along our front walk in hopes it would return to life and boy did it ever. As it grew, it decided it wanted to “climb” up our front trellis (which was already in place for our ‘New Dawn’ climbing rose), and who was I to argue? Now it engulfs the whole front of the house, stretching all the way to the roof top and intertwining with ‘New Dawn’ for a, literally, traffic-stopping show in June. When people visit our home, they are always amazed at the enormity and gorgeous-ness of it, and I wish I could take credit, but all I really did was get out of the way. 

Climbing roses do not actually “climb” as, say, a vining plant which wraps tendrils or leaf stalks around a support, or plants such as ivy which use aerial roots to attach to trees or masonry. Roses that are labeled as “climbers” throw out long canes which can be trained on a support such as a trellis, arbor or pillar, otherwise they will just sprawl across the ground. (In some cases climbing roses or “ramblers” can reach heights of 30+ feet and be trained to grow up a tree for striking results.)

Roses that are labeled as “groundcover” often produce long, sprawling canes which are meant to cover the ground, of course, but in our case were lifted and trained upwards for surprisingly wonderful results. Our groundcover rose, which I now assume to be a Flower Carpet®***, threw out some extra long canes which I trained to grow up-and-over against the wall of our house. With traditional climbing roses, tipping a cane on it’s side like that changes “apical dominance,” which basically means you increase the number of flower shoots along the length of the cane. You can do this by pegging, or in this case, by directionally attaching the canes to a support. (However, groundcover roses are bred to produce flowers freely all over the plant, so do not require this kind of treatment. I simply trained it in this fashion to get it out of the way of the window.)

As our rose grew, it produced quite a few new canes, so I removed the ones growing outward by removing them at the base of the plant with a pair of sharp pruners. A select few canes which were in the back of the plant were kept and attached to a trellis so that the rose could continue to travel both to the left and the right. I like to use this velcro plant tape to attach my roses to supports because it is easily removable and can be adjusted as needed. You can also use strips of panty hose.

Don’t you love “before” pictures? This picture was taken almost exactly 1 year ago. EDIT: Since this photo was taken those trellises have been installed “properly.” You can see more about that HERE

The beauty of using groundcover rose in your landscape, and in this case as a climber, is that they are bred for vigor and year-round beauty with little to no care whatsoever. Our rose has glossy disease-free foliage (no spraying!) and blooms from spring to frost. I don’t even need to dead-head the roses because the plant is self-cleaning and besides, I wouldn’t even want to because the roses leave behind clusters of dark red/orange hips that look lovely in the winter. The only maintenance that will be required of you if you choose to grow a groundcover rose as a climber is pruning to remove any excess canes, since these kinds of roses are quite abundant and tend to grow all willy-nilly.

***If I am misidentifying this rose, my humble apologies; this was a bargain bin rose that we purchased a couple of years ago (for $5!) and was unlabeled. I’m 99% certain it is a Pink Supreme Flower Carpet® rose or just ‘Pink’, but if I’m wrong, these tips will still work for other groundcover roses.

    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    Chris July 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    What a stunning display of blooms. I grow the apricot colored ones as standards. Your are wonderful! Great post!

    Reply

    Hedgerow Rose July 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I bet that looks amazing! I’d love to see pictures. :)

    Reply

    Judy Blooms July 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    These certainly look like Flower Carpet Pink Supreme to me. I have some that look identical (although not nearly as big here in northern New England). Thanks for the wonderful photos! I’m very envious!

    Reply

    Hedgerow Rose July 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Judy, thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment and for your kind words! I’m grateful for your input about this rose…so glad I didn’t mislabel it. ;)

    Reply

    Beca Lewis June 19, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Beautiful! Can’t wait to see it, and that tape you were talking about!

    Reply

    Hedgerow Rose June 19, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Well, it’s not as big as it was when this picture was taken because I had to prune it back so much when the trellis came down, but it’s recovering nicely.

    Reply

    Sudhamathi Muthu April 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Hi,
    You are my great inspiration to grow roses. Recently started reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge. What is the fertilizer you use for all your roses? If you could share it, it will be of great help.

    Thanks,
    Sudha.

    Reply

    Hedgerow Rose April 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you Sudha! I’m so glad that you were able to find some inspiration from my little blog! :)
    As for fertilizer, first I make sure that the soil our roses are growing in has been enriched with lots of compost. During the growing season I water the container roses regularly with alfalfa tea and compost tea both of which I purchase from HAVEN. (Sometimes I also water them with some diluted liquid kelp, too.) Thanks again and good luck!

    Reply

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