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Climbing rose on narrow trellis

I’m quite new to gardening and since last year have been training a couple of climbing roses (David Austin, Generous Gardener) to quite narrow trellises.However, having done some more research I am concerned I may have made an error….

I thought I could focus on building one or two main stems, and train side stems for the lateral growth. See pictures. 

After doing a bit more research I now understand I should be planning for several main stems, and cutting back the side shoots closer to the main stem.  

Does anyone have feedback on how I can plan to remedy the situation? Ideally I’d like to have flowers up the trellis, then also arching out left and right above the trellis. 

Any suggestions on how I should train the main stems to achieve this? Do I need to zig zag the main stems or are there better approaches?

Any help much appreciated!! Cheers, Matt








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  • NollieNollie Posts: 6,772
    Hi Matt,

    The Generous Gardener is a large climbing rose that is not really suitable for growing in a pot long term, so would not have been my first choice for attempting to do so. David Austin says it is suitable for a 10ft wall or a large arch. There are more compact climbing roses that would better suit life in a pot and the existing space. Sorry, you really didn’t want to hear that I’m sure!

    The pot I can see in photo 1 looks not much more than half-filled - with what? Roses need the largest, deepest pot you can find, filled to near the brim with a good, loam based growing medium and a lot more TLC than roses in the ground - regular watering and feeding, plus mulching with fresh compost at least annually. Also you have other plants competing for water and nutrients in there. In saying all that, they look healthy so far, so you have clearly been looking after them.

    So onto training. I would say you need 4-6 main canes and a trellis high enough and wide enough (e.g. 6ft x 6ft) to gently bend and tie in the main canes down to near horizontal. The laterals (side shoots) then grow freely upright from these main canes and flower. After flowering they are pruned down to around 6” or the next set of 5 leaves, and then they re-flower. So training the laterals horizontally as you have done looks a bit odd, you can see the buds on the ends straining to go upwards.

    The main canes form the supporting framework of a climbing rose and are not pruned. Main canes are trained and tied in, laterals are not. They all look to be rather tightly tied too, better to loop more loosely to prevent the canes from rubbing and give them space to grow.

    To rectify the situation, you would need to give it them a lot more trellis space to grow and start retraining next year. Meanwhile, when dormant in winter, you might consider repotting into a larger, fuller pot, making sure you buried the graft (the knobbly bit between the root stock and the named rose) about 2- 3”to encourage new canes to shoot from the base.

    @Mr. Vine Eye has TGG and has some beautifully trained climbing roses, so may be best placed to give you more specific advice. He and his boys might be currently engrossed in pre match footie though 😆 
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,846
    edited July 2021
    I agree I'm afraid.  I had a Generous Gardener n my last garden and it grew across 3 6' trellis panels and would have gone further if I'd let it.  It was a prolific flowerer because I was able to train its stems horizontally.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for the comments Nellie and Obellix. 

    The pot is actually pretty huge - 90cm tall and 75cm wide, and full to about 6 inches below the top. And I’ve been mulching, feeding and watering so far. Both the roses look very healthy and haven’t been affected by insects save for a few aphids here and there. 

    What I’m hoping for is some advice on how I can best make use of the trellis space I do have, which is widths of 3 foot (white trellis) and 4 foot (wood trellis), and 6 foot height; then with space above both trellises for the rose to spread left and right above. I will add a couple more pictures to show the space better. 

    Clearly I need to abandon my single main stem approach. Should I aim to fan out 4-6 main stems, or is it better with my 3/4 foot width to go for a zig zag?

    Any other thoughts much appreciated. Typing this at half time in the football, so hope it all makes sense!!

  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I would listen to the advice given. GG is a big rose, not great for a pot, with a very wide reach. It's great that your plant is healthy. I would transplant that one into the ground and develop it with 4-6 main canes. Then find a small rose that's happy in (cultivated for) a pot and will fill the small trellis space you have for it.

    If you look on the David Austin website, you will find filters to show you which roses are suitable for containers. You may as well get one that will be happy and thrive in your given position.
  • Thanks Fire - one of them is in the ground though so any help on that one would be appreciated too! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,846
    You need a lot more trellis for a GG whether it's in the ground or a pot and why would you waste the extra nutrients and moisture that those mixing 6 inches of compost could give?

    Move GG to a better space and replace it with a climber better suited to your limited trellis.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    It seems like you are looking after your roses well. Lots of sun, water, food. Make sure to water buckets through the summer, esp if it's new in. Don't hold back on nutrients, compost and mulch. It's not an useful economy, though it is good to leave a few inches at the top of a pot so water can seep down without overflowing. Leave a 30 inches space around your roses planted in soil to the base gets lots of light and is not competing for nutrients. Don't plant close to the fence.
  • Thanks but for various reasons moving and replacing isn’t an option for me. I don’t have space in my garden to move the roses elsewhere, and having two toddlers under two years old means I am time poor as well. 

    If anyone has any suggestions of how I can make the best of the situation, with this rose against these trellises, I would be very grateful. 

    Sorry I’m sure this isn’t the ideal approach but I’m learning and doing the best I can in my own circumstances! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,846
    Well, as you will discover with your children, they don't stop growing until they reach about 18 or 19 and will need new clothes and shoes as they grow.  You can't fit a size 6 foot into a size 2 shoe!  Your GG has similarly programmed genes that will make it want to outgrow both your pot and that trellis.   

    Maybe you could swap it with a friend who has more space and then grow one of the smaller DA climbers that doesn't want to get much more than 2m high.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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