Climbing Rose- Encouraging Blooms

Q: Two years ago we planted Queen Elizabeth climbing roses against trellises at our back fence. I had envisioned the foliage disguising the board fence. What I got was bare branches to the top of the fence and then a little foliage with no blooms last year at all. Is there something I should do to encourage more foliage and blooms along the branches?

A: It is normal for climbing roses to become “leggy” after a few years. One option is to regularly bend lower canes outward (rather than letting them climb upwards). The horizontal canes will then send up vertical sprouts from their lower level. Another option for covering the bottom part of a climbing rose is to plant several clematis beneath it. The clematis provide flowers when the rose does not and leaves where the rose has few.

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