Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Your Own Easy Peasy Rose Pillar

Everyone knows about the tomato cage, which is placed over tomato plants to help them climb effortlessly, but why not use a cage for hardy climbing roses?

Make your own with three or four sections of lattice, or simply use one of the garden obelisks that are so popular these days. For a climbing rose, you’ll need a very tall obelisk, at least 1.8 m (6 feet) high.


Choosing Climbing Roses

Obviously, you need suitable roses. In zones 3 and 4 (2-3 USDA), “climbing” roses from the Explorers series, such as ‘John Cabot’, ‘William Baffin’ or ‘Henry Kelsey’, are good choices (these are actually shrub roses with climbing tendencies). If you live in zone 5 or 6 (4-5 USDA), there are a few genuine climbing roses hardy enough to grow without winter protection, such as ‘New Dawn’, ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’, ‘Blaze Improved’ and ‘White New Dawn’. Some English roses, such as ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, ‘Graham Thomas’, ‘Constance Spry’ and ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, also make good climbers.

Rosa ‘William Baffin’. Photo: F. D. Richards.

Advantages of Cages

There are several advantages to using cages or obelisks. They provide solid, stable support, helping roses to climb efficiently, which can prevent damage from wind and rain. In addition, these structures allow better air circulation around plants, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Finally, they add an attractive vertical dimension to your garden, creating interesting focal points.

Make your own with three or four sections of lattice. Photo: Rona.

Planting and Maintenance

Plant your rose in sunny, well-drained garden soil. Climbing roses prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Before planting, enrich the soil with well-decomposed compost or manure to improve fertility and soil structure. Once planted, place the cage or obelisk over the plant. At first, you may have to push back any stray stems inside the support, but once they reach the top, let them grow further as they please.

Rosa ‘New Dawn’ in an obelisk. Photo: Georges Seguin.

Flower Fireworks!

With branches extending outwards from the sides and top of the support, your cage or obelisk will be a veritable firework display of flowers! Not only does this method of support enhance the natural beauty of roses, it also maximizes your garden space, allowing you to fully enjoy the splendor of hardy climbing roses.

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in this blog on May 28, 2015. The content and layout have been revised.

1 comment on “Your Own Easy Peasy Rose Pillar

  1. Dormant pruning can get complicated after canes mesh with such supports.

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