The Q&A Archives: Climbing Rose

Question: I planted a climbing rose in June. It has not produced any roses. All the growth seems to have gone to foliage.

Answer: Roses need two things for blooms: sun and nutrients. Are your plants receiving at least 6-8 hours of sun daily? Since the plants seem healthy otherwise, I suspect they might be missing essential nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are the 3 major nutrients for all plants. (They correspond to the 3 numbers on fertilizer packages.) Nitrogen promotes growth of green leaves. It sounds like your plants are getting plenty of that. Phosphorous is essential for blooms. Roses are heavy "feeders" during their bloom period. I suggest you apply a rose fertilizer. The second and third numbers on the package should be higher than the first. Or, roses benefit from applications of greensand, which contains potassium, and bone meal, which contains phosphorus. Both of these nutrients are important for flowering. The thing to avoid is feeding them with high-nitrogen fertilizer that will encourage foliage growth at the expense of flowers. Keep them consistently moist and mulch with 2-3 inches of compost to help maintain soil moisture. Rosarians I know fertilize their roses every 6 weeks during the blooming season.

Climbing roses bloom on new stems that grow on old wood. By next year your climbers will have enough old wood to produce new flowering stems and you should have lots of blooms. Enjoy!

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