In our garden this spring, I’ve been training my climbing roses. They are still learning to follow directions, so technically that makes them trainees. So am I. Believe me, I am NOT a rose expert by any stretch of the imagination. But we are fast learners. Today I’m gonna show you our process.
Early last fall, we planted two climbing roses (their names are Rosie and Daphne) at separate ends of our rock wall. Other than planting them, we pretty much did nothing to them all winter, other than we made sure they had water. A few months later, before they began putting on spring growth, I started training them using a process called pegging. Pegging works rather well, especially in a small garden space. And the best thing about pegging your roses is that blooms will increase significantly.
Roses want to be good garden citizens. Some varieties need to be taught.
Pegging Your Roses
The first thing I did was free Daphne’s branches which were twisted and tied onto the bamboo stakes that came with her. I could almost hear Daphne sigh, she was so relieved to spread out and breathe.
Next, I cut away all her dead wood. There was a lot.
Once her dead wood was trimmed away and her branches were loosened, I could see what I was working with. I removed canes that seemed weak and spindly, or those growing at odd angles. Just like we need fresh air, roses appreciate air circulating between their branches, too. This reduces the chance of disease and pests.
A few of Daphne’s rose canes were crazy long. This is a good thing when it comes to pegging. The idea behind pegging is to arch the cane into a loop and tie it down onto itself, back toward the ground. (The longer the cane the better.) Shorter canes, I arched and attached to a bamboo stake or a part of the trellis. Or I let them continue growing for pegging later.
Two things to know about climbing roses…
- They aren’t really climbers. Not in the sense that a clematis vine climbs and attaches itself with tendrils. Climbing roses send off long shoots that grow and grow, but they don’t attach themselves to anything (unless you walk by and a thorn snags your shirt). But pegging the canes contains the plant while giving it shape.
- If the cane of a climbing rose is allowed to go untamed, the rosebuds will primarily form on the tip end only. This won’t be very attractive and you’ll be disappointed in your plant. BUT. Bending the canes and pegging them at the base results in an actual physiological change in the plant’s hormones because of gravitational shift. Every leaf node and eye bud along the arch will be able to produce a stem and flower cluster. That’s cool.
See what I mean? After pegging, the branch in the picture below is sending off lots of stems and buds!
Before / After / Now
Daphne: She Grows Along the Back Wall
March 24, 2019. Daphne was a tangled mess with lots of deadwood. But it wasn’t her fault.
You can see in the next picture, her canes were growing everywhere. Unruly, she wasn’t going to cling to the rock wall without help. This is where pegging comes in.
Here’s a picture of Daphne after pegging her branches. Yes, she looks a little loopy and crazy, but trust me. Like a fresh haircut, I knew she would look better once her foliage grew in a little.
One month later as her leaves and buds began to come in, she was becoming quite the looker.
May, 2019. What a beauty!
Rosie: She Grows Near the Side Gate
March 24, 2019. Here’s Rosie just after I pegged the branches. (Somehow I can’t find her before picture, but her canes were growing straight up and over the rock wall.) After, her design looks heart-shaped.
One month later, she’s growing into a lovely lady.
May, 2019. Be still my heart.
Now that Rosie and Daphne have gotten into the swing of training, I check them every few days (because I’m obsessed) to see if any adjustments need to be made. Rosie’s top branch broke off in a recent heavy wind which really bummed all of us out. But these girls are resilient.
You can use twine or twist ties or whatever works for you when it comes to pegging your roses, but my favorite product is plant ribbon which I buy at Lowe’s. For less than $3, a 150-foot spool will last you a long time, unless like me, you misplace your ribbon and have to buy another. The great thing about this particular product is that it’s easy to work with, it stretches with the plant, and it blends into the foliage.
Alrighty. That’s it for today’s lesson on training climbing roses:)
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.