How to identify a regular rose bush vs climbing?

roobixAugust 1, 2012


I live in Southern California and just had a chain link fence installed.

From what I have gathered, some people recommend the Iceberg Rose Climbing bush for those who want to cover the chain link fence.

They are apparently better than vines because they are green all year long and will flower all over itself (instead of at just the top like some vines), low maintenance, and very resistant.

Anyways, my question is:

How do I know if I'm buying a climber vs a regular iceberg rose bush?

I went to home depot tonight and the iceberg roses that they have don't state whether they are climbers or not. There was no one there to help me so I couldn't ask. Google hasn't been helpful in helping me differentiate the two.

Can anyone help me figure this out? Maybe it's suppose to say climbing on the label?

Does anyone know where I might find myself a climbing iceberg? Either in white or pink?

Thank you!

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Roobix, where in SoCal do you live? We can direct you to reputable nurseries who will have Climbing Iceberg. Home Depot, Lowe's, Wallyworld, etc., are generally not going to have the climbing version unless, by some odd chance, they have them with the Banksiae roses and other vines.

What you're finding at the "home improvement stores" are bush Iceberg. Occasionally, you MAY find one which has mutated more toward the climber so it forms a larger than expected bush, but if you want the true climbing Iceberg, you need to go to a REAL nursery where they know what a Climbing Iceberg is.

Climbing Iceberg so far, is only white. The bush form has mutated to Brilliant Pink and Burgundy, but not the climber. If you want some contrast and there is room, grow the climber on the fence and pop the color sport bushes along the fence to provide depth and contrast. Kim

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:59AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Yes, it would say "Cl." or "Climbing" on the label. Once well established (say two years), a climbing variety makes shoots that grow 8' or more long from the base.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:04AM
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Hi michaelg and roseseek!

I live near Huntington beach, Westminster, Santa Ana and garden grove

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 11:33AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

My experience is that if you just don't prune your 'Iceberg' it will become a climber. Of course this is in Southern California, which is paradise for 'Iceberg'.

Here is my former shrub 'Iceberg' left unpruned:

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:40PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

However if you really want to thoroughly and completely cover a chain link fence in Orange County, I'd recommend Star Jasmine, Tracheospermum jasminoides. Once it gets established you will never know there is chain link underneath it, provided you water it enough.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:43PM
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Hi Roobix, I emailed Kathy Strong who lives in your neck of the woods. She'll know what nurseries in your area you should check.

Whether a "bush" Iceberg develops into a climber or not depends upon where on the continuum the mutation falls. Here is an article I wrote about this for Help Me Find a few years ago. It will explain why some remain around four feet and others turn into Jack and the Beanstalk plants. Kim

Here is a link that might be useful: Poor Old Iceberg

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:48PM
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tThat's really pretty hoovb! Will the shrub really cover my chain link fence though?

As for Star jasmine, what would be the difference in terms of coverage compared to the iceberg rose?

For my own tastes, it looks like the iceberg might be a bit prettier but I DO want good coverage on my chain link so I don't have to feel like I'm intruding on my neighbor when I happen to be looking their way.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:50PM
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Thanks for the article, Kim!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 3:12PM
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oops.. I guess you can't edit a post.

And for helping me find a nursery! :)

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 3:13PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

It took YEARS to eradicate star jasmine here. I'm violently allergic to it, and it was a relief to know it's gone.


    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 3:57PM
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You're welcome! Now, for Kathy to chime in with her information. Cl. Iceberg can get dense and does flower all the time. Another you may like is Sally Holmes. You'll find her classed as Cl. Floribunda, Shrub, Climber, whatever, they're all the same rose. A friend has her on all six supports for an easily 8' iron pergola and she covers it easily. For her daughter's wedding a month or so ago, that thing looked like something made out of silk from a florist! She will have NO problem eating your fence and getting dense while doing it.

Check out this photo on HMF from your neck of the woods.

As with any climber, it all depends upon how you train her. Keep her canes tied in low and as horizontal as possible, and she (and all other climbers) will throw later canes and bazillians of blooms all over the plant. Kim

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 4:05PM
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kstrong(10 So Cal)

Climbing Iceberg is available from Palatine Roses in Canada, which is a reputable mail order source that sends BIG plants. You won't find it at any local nursery that I know of, nor will it ever be found at any big box store.

I grew it once, but got rid of it after a few seasons because the climbing form does not bloom as much as the bush form of Iceberg, and further, it blooms mostly at the top of the plant. I just think there are better climbing roses around than that one. If you do go with that rose, plant two -- a climbing one and a bush version at the base, and then you will have flowers from top to bottom.

One climber I often recommend is The Charlatan (which is pink fading quickly to white) and another is Darla's Enigma. You may be able to find them at your better nurseries. I have seen them both at Plant Depot in my town (San Juan Capistrano). Try Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach. They usually have a good selection. Since this is the tail end of the season, they might even be on sale.

I do have a regular bush form Iceberg in my front yard that I just let grow with no pruning EVER. It gets to about 6 feet, but took several years to fill out at that size. If you put in a regular bush form Iceberg and expect it to cover a fence, expect to wait a few years, but it will eventually do it.

If you want more color, there are some great striped climbers that you should take a look at -- Fourth of July (red/white), CandyLand (pink/cream) and Purple Splash (purple/white). Those would probably be at your local nurseries also.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 4:41PM
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That's odd not being able to find Cl. Iceberg locally, Kathy. Green Thumb/Green Arrow and Ventura Nursery locally have them all the time in five and fifteen gallon cans. Otto & Sons stocks it regularly. If you travel out to Roger's Gardens, look up Laurie Chaffin there. She formerly owned Pixie Treasures nursery in Yorba Linda with her mother, Dorothy Crallie. A very talented rose breeder and an excellent, experienced rosarian.

When properly trained like a climber, I've not had any difficulty getting it to flower along the canes as a climber would be expected to. The main issue with ordering bareroots from Canada or back east would be the multiflora root stock they use. Generally, multiflora isn't happy in many of our alkaline soils and water. Dr. Huey is much better suited to our soil/climate types (in general). Kim

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 4:50PM
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kstrong(10 So Cal)

p.s. That is my Sally Holmes plant that Kim photo-linked in the post immediately prior to mine. It blooms like that only once per year -- in the spring. The rest of the time it has sporadic, sparse blooms. In the spring it is glorious, the rest of the time, just green.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 4:51PM
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Interesting, I wonder if it is a heat thing? Here in the SFV and up in the Santa Clarita Valley, it's continuous...HUGE and continuous. Kim

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Wow, so the iceberg only blooms at the top here is SoCal?

That's disappointing

I liked a lot of those flowers you mentioned too, Kathy, but google images gave me a few different colors for each of them and some had diffenent looking forms lol. So that confused me a bit.

As for using a bush instead of a climber, will the bush take up a lot of depth?

My plan is to use something to cover up the chain link well, but not take up too much space. The front yard is a bit limited in grass space. I'll draw something out and post it after this message to give you all an idea.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Roobix, ANY climber, if permitted to go more vertical than horizontal, will flower primarily at the tops. Apical dominance demands it. That's why you train the canes (and resulting laterals) as horizontally as possible to encourage more secondary and tertiary flowering growth.

Grown the same way, most other climbing type roses will perform the same way, so I wouldn't worry about blooming only at the tops of the canes. It all depends upon properly training the plant. Begin it low enough and the tops of canes will be close to the mid to top of your fence. Choose what you want, but don't limit yourself and don't reject one of the best climbers around for doing what climbers do. Kim

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Thanks, Kim! I'm sorry about that. I remember you had posted about training them properly and came to the wrong conclusion!

In case any one is still curious, this is how my front yard roughly looks. We're have a boy soon and want to have enough room in the front of a play area so that's why the dept of the plants will matter to us. As you can see, not very much grass coverage in the front. At least compared to my neighbors lol!

To summarize, I have approximately 50 feet of fence to cover!

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    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 7:39PM
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Congratulations on the new baby expected! How important could the plant being thornless be to you? Kim

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:01PM
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LOL! I have considered the thorny part of this particular plant. At first I'd read it's less thorny than other roses...then I read (possibly from your article, Kim?) that the bigger it gets, the more thorny it will be.

I think it should be fine...I don't see kids running into them..but I could be wrong!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:34PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Star jasmine will completely cover a fence. It will appear to be a hedge. This will take a good amount of water, but so would a rose.

If you want another rose option, 'Secret Garden Musk Climber' would probably be faster than 'Iceberg' to cover a fence. Blooms maybe even more than 'Iceberg', and fragrant too. Blooms much better than 'Sally Holmes'.

Other vines that will cover a chain link fence are Lavender Trumpet vine, Clytostoma callistegioides, or another trumpet vine called 'Tangerine Beauty', Bignonia capreolata. These are faster and somewhat easier than Star Jasmine, and with a longer blooming period. It's a good idea to cut vines like these completely to the ground every 5 or 6 years so they don't get too woody and leafless at the bottom.

As much as I love roses, they are not the solution for every spot in the garden.

Look at the star jasmine in the upper left hand corner of the photo. See the fence? No? That's what it does. Same for the other vines.

Thanks for that link, roseseek.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2012 at 3:42PM
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