Introduction to Hardy Climbing Roses:
Climbing roses have long been some of the most popular and most widely sought after roses anywhere. Finding varieties that can withstand the colder temperatures of some of the more northern climates, and still come back year after year without being cut back to the ground, can be quite a daunting challenge to growers who are trying to create a stunning rose garden in these climates. Unfortunately as many of you know, while the climate of your region matters, so does the micro-climate in your own garden as well.
Some gardens and locations are just more naturally protected than others, this is why your neighbor might be able to grow a stunning rose across the street, but you can't get that same variety to survive in front of your house. In many cases it just all depends on the specific conditions that are impacting that particular space. Perhaps your neighbor's location is being warmed by the heat from the house, or perhaps your house is situated as such that the winds buffet it more intensely than others. There are a lot of factors that determine the individual growing conditions.
Choosing Hardy Climbing Roses:
While it is true that your options are somewhat limited if you live in the northern climates and are looking for hardy climbing roses, but that doesn't mean that you don't have any options at all. It just means you need to choose your rose varieties very carefully, and then go through a few extra steps to ensure that you give them the best chance to survive. One of the first things you need to do is know what zone you are in and use that as the starting point for selecting your roses.
Every rose variety out there these days will give you a zone hardiness rating, to help you narrow down your search. Now while these ratings are extremely important, they are not hard and fast numbers that you have to live and die by. Some varieties of unusually hardy climbing roses can survive in zones colder than those listed, however to do so it depends on how well you protect your roses over the winter, and what location you have them planted in. If you have a micro-climate in your garden that stays just a little warmer and more protected than the rest, this is probably a good location to plant.
Varieties of Hardy Climbing Roses:
Now let's look a little closer at some of the varieties of climbing roses that you could choose from to plant in your northern climate garden. One of the first ones that come to mind is the New Dawn rose. This is a great climber that produces pink blooms and in addition to being pretty hardy, it also has a high resistance to diseases and is a repeat bloomer. Check out our climbing roses section for more detailed info on this variety. A sport of the New Dawn is the Awakening, which is the same rose only with fully double blooms.
The Ramblin Red rose, from the very breeders that brought you the "Knock Out" roses, is a vigorous deep red rose that is very hardy.
William Baffin roses are among the most hardy climbing roses that I have ever come across yet, some claiming to have successfully grown this deep pink variety all the way north to zone 2.
The Coral Dawn rose is another pink rose that can survive well in zone 4, and in select locations even colder yet. This variety tends to die back to around 4 feet tall however in the colder climates, and then regrowing from there the following season.
As with the New Dawn, we have variety specific pages for each of these types in our rose category, so refer to them for more specific details.
Site Selection for Hardy Climbing Roses:
Now obviously anyone living in the colder northern climates would love to be able to just plant their roses where they want like everyone else and not have to worry about them. While you do have some additional considerations to think about prior to planting, the steps to protecting your roses is not as intense as you may think. So let's go over some of the biggest ones.
The most important choice is where you plant them within your garden. There is no special "tool" for detecting micro-climates, so much of it is common sense and a little trial and error. For instance, while good air circulation is critical to rose health, you probably do not want to plant your roses out in the open where frigid winter winds can buffet them unchecked. Hardy climbing roses are strong, but they are not invincible.
You can also find a somewhat sheltered area around your house, that perhaps might get warmed slightly from the heat radiating off your home over the winter. Why not make the most of that wasted energy? A location with full sun-light is ever so critical here as the sun will warm the soil during the day and give it a better chance of surviving the night.
Overwintering Hardy Climbing Roses:
How you plant your roses is critical to how well they survive the winter. In most climates, the bud union is usually planted 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil. However in colder climates, you may find you have to plant the bud union a good 6 inches deep to prevent it from freezing. Planting the bud union deeper however usually results in a regimented feeding schedule, so make sure you don't overlook this tip.
Before backfilling your newly dug hole for a brand new rose, mix the existing soil 2 parts soil to 1 part organics compost, available cheaply at any local garden store. Water it thoroughly after backfilling to make good and certain all the roots are covered with mud.
You can help protect your roses over the winter by "hilling" up the base of the rose with mulch or peat moss. Depending on how deep you planted your bud union however, you may have to remove this hill the following season. If your climbing roses survive the winter however, this added step could be worth the effort!
There are numerous products on the market today that northern rose growers can use to cover their roses over the winter also. This more or less acts like a mini-greenhouse over your roses by trapping heat from the sun inside during the day.
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