Best time to plant climbing roses for a ‘burst’ of life in spring

Alan Titchmarsh gives advice on growing shrub roses

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Climbing roses are vigorous growers that produce an abundant display of flowers through summer and autumn. As well as having a long blooming period, climbers can be planted “at any time” of the year, though gardening experts reccomend doing it in either autumn or spring for the “best” results. Here’s exactly when to plant climbing roses from container plants and bare roots in your garden.

When to plant climbing roses

These classic English flowers are ideal for growing across walls, over arches, or on a trellis in even the smallest of gardens.

No matter where you choose to grow them, there are generally two options for how you plant fragrant climbing roses.

Bare-root climbers are supplied dormant without foliage or flowers, while potted roses come in potting mix with foliage, and often some blooms depending on the time of purchase.

Potted roses

One of the main advantages of growing climbing roses from pots is that the striking flowerheads can be enjoyed even earlier in the year.

The experts at Jackson Nurseries said: “Potted climbing roses can be planted at any time of the year providing the ground is not frozen or lying wet.

“Between the beginning of autumn and early spring when they’re dormant can be best, allowing the roots to establish before your rose bursts into life in the spring.”

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Bare-root roses

Bare-root roses are most widely sold between November and March while the plants are dormant.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), these are best planted in late autumn – around October or November.

One of the easiest ways to tell if it’s time to plant bare roots is when the leaves begin to fall.

The RHS added that they can also be planted from late winter to early spring before growth “resumes”.

For “impressive” roses, it can be beneficial to plant climbers from pots or bare roots even earlier in autumn.

According to Thompson and Morgan, planting early enough in the season give the roots plenty of time to get established before they go dormant over winter.

This is because the residual warmth in the soil helps to give the roots a “head start”.

As long as there are no signs of drought, frost, or waterlogged soil, roses should do fine planted at any point in autumn, spring, or late winter.

How to plant climbing roses

Whether you’re planting bare-root roses or potted types, preparation is always worthwhile before planting.

British rose breeder David Austin explained that rehydrating the plant is perhaps the most crucial step.

He said: “Before removing your rose from its pot, water it generously, immediately prior to planting.”

Next, break up the soil and dig a hole large enough to hold the mass of roots (around 40cm by 60cm for pots and twice the width of a bare root).

Tease out the roots of container plants and position them in the centre of the hole. For root roses, ensure the graft union – (where the stem joins the rootstock) – is level with the soil surface, not below it.

Gently back-fill with soil and water once more.

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