Need a climbing or rambler rose for pergola

kittylee(SW Colorado Z4)October 11, 2011

Hi All,

I am new to the forums and need advice. I have fallen in love with roses. We live at 7,000 ft elevation just south of Pueblo, CO, in the foothills of the Rockies. We are supposed to be zone 5b, but we had a zone 4 winter last year, with -27 degrees F. Some winters deep snow, some winters hardly any snow.

I need recommendations for a climbing or rambling rose to grow up the side and over the top (hopefully) of our largest main pergola. My DH wants something large enough to provide some shade in the heat of summer. I'm not picky about color or re-bloom. My main concern is big and winter hardy. Once the canes grow tall enough to grow up and over the top, they will be at the mercy of our winds.

We just installed the raised bed on the right hand side (see arrow) The height from the patio is about 9 feet and the top of the pergola is about 16 x 16 feet. The big wall behind blocks the North wind and the porch on the left blocks the winter West winds. This corner receives sun till late in the afternoon.

Here is a photo of the large main pergola.

From My Garden

I do have a Polstjarnan (Polestar) rambler rose on order for this spring from RVR, for the SW corner of a smaller pergola, but, it will have very little wind protection in that spot. Rated to zone 2, I am hoping it will be happy and provide shade in the summer over the small pond below.

From My Garden

Any recommendations or advice would be wonderful and much appreciated.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a similar but larger set up as your first picture, twelve feet by twenty feet, about 12 years old now. We tried several varieties of supposedly zone 5 climbing roses, but they would make it up to 8 - 12 feet long, then the canes would die. It was also a real pain to get out the ladder and try to pull the canes down and train them along the beams. We tried grapes - they worked great - took 3-4 years to reach respectable and fruit/shade producing size, but then 2 years ago, voles got the roots in the winter and they died.

We've ended up with climbing roses up the posts, and a 60% greenhouse shade cloth over the top tied down with bungee cords, which we pull off in the winter to avoid snow issues. It's very pleasant and cool in the summer. You can't really see the roses on the top unless you're a bird, and the roses up the posts are all beautiful.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 2:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kittylee(SW Colorado Z4)

Hi David,
Thank you for your reply.
Do you have any experience with the Polestar rose? I'm thinking of ordering a second one. According to RVR it's supposed to climb 15-20 feet.

From HMF reviews:
"Polstjarnan is 100% cane hardy in zone 2b, it is the most reliably cane hardy climber I know of. It gets very large, quite quickly. It has a light, pleasant scent."

"Polestar has viscious thorns and thrives in Zone 3 (Calgary). I have seen it grow up past the eaves of a house here. No disease problems that I have seen."

My DH wants to try grapes. But, my experience with fruit has been that it always attracts unwanted guests (bugs) I thought about growing roses up the two posts, but we have a wide step surrounding and I think the distance between the posts and the soil might be too great.

Here is a link that might be useful: 'Polstjrnan' rose on HMF

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't know that rose, but a quick info check has it growing in Alaska, so it should do fine here.

My pergola (here with the Spanish influence we call 'em 'vegas') now has, up each post, a thornless climbing rose Zephirine Drouhin. They do get a bit unruly, we move around the place constantly, so even if you bump into them, no big deal. On one post we also have a clematis, and on the middle post, trying to start up some grapes again - that will take several years.

I dunno - our experience here, which is at a similar elevation and on the west side of the house, the aspect of good shade soon outweighed the concept of knockout beautiful aesthetics - a shade cloth is very comfortable and knocks off 10 F inside the house - but not the prettiest thing. It didn't take too many afternoons in the shade to convince the BH that the shade cloth was the way to go :-). Even when the grape vine was at its fullest, it only covered about half of it, limiting the time of day we could use it. And then came the raccoons.

Uses and ideas change over time, climbing roses get diseases and can turn into a hassle - mine are now, with some disease that hits in the early spring.

So I'd keep some flexibility in mind - what will you be actually using it for, where the sun is going to be when you do use it, etc. Oh, and don't get a wisteria. Yikes.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 4:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kittylee(SW Colorado Z4)

Hi David,
Our pergola (vegas) is on the east side of the house, and we use it all summer. We built it because my DH likes to throw astronomy Star Parties and barbeque's every month. It gets wonderful morning sun, but best of all is the wind protection. I hope that planting a rose over on the far right side, will give us more middle of the day shade and look pretty.

Your shade cloth does sound good. Is this the same as a shade sail? I was looking into buying one of them this past summer.

Oh yes, the raccoons! We had one enter the house through the pet door one night. Not one of the best house guests.

What kind of disease are you experiencing? I hope it's not something endemic to our region.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 5:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

West side / east side makes a huge difference. I dunno if you're interested in them, but Clematis vines do extremely well on east-facing walls. The combo of roses and clematis is a good one, but I'd plant them on separate posts, not try to grow them too close together - the clematis will smother the rose.

A shade 'cloth' vs a 'sail' - seems that generally, a 'cloth' is rectangular with grommets all along the edges - we use one on the greenhouse in the summer as well as the 'vegas' in the back of the house. Hook it down all around. A sail is held down by ropes or what ever on the corners - but anyway, the same principal.

The rose disease is something that turns the stems black in the early spring - I don't know exactly what it is. I have to cut everyone of them down to the ground every year, and they are slowly dying off.

Here is a link that might be useful: link to a source for shade cloths

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 10:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kittylee(SW Colorado Z4)

Thank you for the link, I will think about buying this for next summer.
Clematis is worth investigating further. I don't know anything about growing clematis, but it can't be that hard to learn. I have seen so many photos of the clematis/rose combinations that are truly beautiful.

How Disheartening. Do the stems turn black and die from top to bottom? You might try this link. The fungus I am guessing is near the bottom of the page. The forum will not let me type in the name because it sees a dirty word.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bad Fungi: The Number One Rose Problem

    Bookmark   October 12, 2011 at 1:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dominoswrath(5 WI)

We have a William Baffin rose shrub here in zone 5 WI and they survive winters without any extra maintenance. Extremely hardy here. WB isn't a climber per se, but can grow to be a very large arching shrub that you could easily train to grow over the top of the pergola. This one gets HUGE in just a couple years time (for me).

It's VERY hardy and has a profusion of BEAUTIFUL stunning blooms, and sparse reblooms for me later on in the year. I have other climbers in my yard, but WB is my favorite of all my roses.

New Dawn is also a nice climber for me, and very hardy.

The only thing I do is cover the crowns in the winter with soil. I let both WB and New Dawn overwinter without any cane protection and she comes back with a vengeance every year without any die back. (same with WB)

WB is much larger though. It does tend to sucker, but I remove any stragglers cutting them below grade.

WB has nice hot pink blooms, no scent.

New Dawn has pastel pink blooms that fade with a lot of sun, but blooms nicely and has a nice scent, and is a true climber.

Both are very hardy in my region.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ms. Lee,
I'm sorry to be a stick in the mud, but I recommend a change of plan. From your altitude, location and description, I think large climbing roses are going to have a very hard time getting very far up either of those structures. I'm in 5B Fort Collins, and I have 4 New Dawn, mentioned above by Domino, which are now 6 or 7 years old. At best they've been only half cane hardy, staying alive 3 or 4 feet up from the ground (when covered) and most years, pretty well dying to the ground. Before that I had Don Juan on this small pergola, which was totally hopeless. I haven't given up. This winter I've covered the entire pergola (about 5x4 x 7 foot tall) with plastic and I've put one of those pipe freeze heater cables in there with the roses. The pipe heater only turns on when temp drops below 35F.
There are some of those really hearty roses, but they're not that pretty, slow growing, and they're not re-blooming. Maybe there's a variety out there somewhere that can withstand winters here that is still pretty and blooms through the summer, and gets big enough to cover a medium size pergola. Maybe I'll figure out which variety that is over the next decade or two. But I'm not going to get my hopes up.

Zone 5 in Wisconsin is a TOTALLY different story than Zone 5 here in Colorado. It's the extremely dry air, bright hot winter sunshine, and dramatic temperature fluctuations throughout our winters that desiccate the rose stems.

I know I'm going to get pelted for this, because it's moderately invasive, but my recommendation is that you plant a couple of Virginia Creepers toward the back of your large pergola. These guys will fairly well cover the pergola in 4 or 5 years. It's very hardy, and has little miniature grape like fruit that hangs down, and looks nice. It also has nice red color in the fall. At the front of the pergola either don't have anything at all on those front 2 columns, or maybe put some medium size trellises there and plant some of the larger size clematis there, or maybe instead plant some honeysuckle. Then maybe put some regular (not climbing) roses in front of that, or nearby.

For your pergola over the pond, I think I'd put honeysuckle on two of the corners and large clematis on the other two. This one is small enough, a really hearty grape vine might be able to cover it, (maybe valiant) but since there's a pond under it, that would make it rather tricky to pick the grapes!

Good luck,


    Bookmark   December 14, 2011 at 4:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am a garden designer living in Pueblo, CO and couldn't resist chiming in with someone so close to home. Kittylee - you do not live in Zone 5b. At your elevation, you live in Zone 4. Horticulturists like to push zones, plus the USDA Zone map isn't detailed enough. One wholesale nursery I work with rates hardiness by elevation. Most years your weather may rate as Zone 5b - then that one cold winter will wipe you out.

I've got to agree with Bruce above that you need to abandon the idea of roses covering your pergola. With the wind and hail we experience, the roses will not give the coverage you're looking for. I have ramblers over 2 arches that are spectacular late May and early June. Even though they are hardy here, each year I must prune out old or dead canes that are damaged from rubbing against the supports because of the wind. I fear you will never get much shade coverage from a climbing rose.

* There are a couple of Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) that are rated to 7,500 feet.
* Many honeysuckle are hardy enough and can take the full sun.
* Grapes available in the trade are only hardy to 6,500 feet, plus they may draw bears and the aforementioned raccoons.
* Silver Lace Vine (Polygonum aubertii) is hardy to 9,000 feet and is very effective as a screening plant. It can grow up to 40 feet/per year and has a low water requirement. It can be seen growing on fences along I-25.
*The Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) is also hardy to 9,000 feet but is a very aggressive grower and reseeds freely. I won't have it in my yard and immediately root it out when it frequently crops up. It does turn a beautiful red in the fall. It also can be seen growing on fences along I-25.
* There are several varieties of Clematis hardy to 7,000 feet or more. Many are slow-growing or require frequent pruning. One variety that has potential for you is Western White Clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia). It is native to Colorado and has a low water requirement.

Hope this was helpful.


    Bookmark   January 14, 2012 at 4:55PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Great Backyard Bird Count - 2015
Great Backyard Bird Count - Cornell Hi all, It’s...
Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
Spring Swap
Hi All, as discussed at the last spring swap, my sisters...
Plant protection after this spring in February
Hi, I have some daffodils and tulips moving right along....
Anyone interested in unusual peonies take a look at Adelman's
Just got the catalog for Adelmans Peony Paradise for...
When should I begin pruning last year's perennials?
Hello, all. I'm wondering when is the best time to...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™