The former owner of my house planted some gorgeous varieties of roses. Through the years I have lived here, I have slowly gathered practice and knowledge about how to keep the roses healthy and beautiful.
I don’t have much trouble with the hybrid tea roses–you can cut them almost to the ground and the next year they reach to the heavens with the most exquisite blooms.
The climbing roses are a different story. They were prolific in the beginning, but then I went overboard cutting everything down and the next year they didn’t bloom. I figured they would recover the following year, and gave them a nice vertical trellis for support, but got this:
A couple of roses bloomed near the ground, and the canes grew and grew towards the sky but produced no blooms. Finally, I decided to consult my trusty Garden Primer. Some key points I had missed were that 1) climbing roses don’t truly climb, they just grow long canes but need to be supported; 2) the roses bloom on last year’s canes, but only if those canes are horizontal; 3) the fragile canes must be protected carefully with mulch in the winter.
I had a long winter to think about how to support the roses, and when the buds started opening I decided to use my son Kyle’s old crib front as a trellis. However, the slats are vertical and I needed some horizontal support. So I pulled out the vinyl cord from an old clothes line and rigged it to the back of the crib slats using metal eyes I screwed into the wood.
To make the crib front stand up, I used four green landscaping stakes (the kind you would use to support tall plants) and merely wrapped the cord around them once as I was stretching it. The cord was tight enough to hold the stakes, and then I just slid them into the ground.
I very carefully pulled the canes over to the support and used cable ties to connect and train them horizontally.
Thankfully, I am confident that the measures I took over winter protected the canes well and the horizontal support is working. It is easy to see that the new growth producing this year’s blooms is growing out of the horizontal canes. And I am pretty positive that if I train this year’s canes to grow horizontally next year, they will do the same.
The best part? As the roses grow in their preferred way, there is more velvet, wine-colored beauty for us all to enjoy.
To my rose experts out there: please comment if you know the names of either of the rose varieties in this post!
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