My friend has inherited several roses at her new home in Connecticut (zone 6a). They are quite large--upwards of six feet. I'm helping her try to ID them (more out of curiosity than expertise). But I'm having trouble even narrowing down to a category. Is there a way to tell if they are large shrubs or untrained climbers?

I'm including a few photos taken last October.

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2 Answers 2


Roses are quite difficult to ID correctly, especially once they've become overgrown like this, because there are literally thousands of varieties. I'd take a guess they're climbers, particularly the one in the first picture, but there are other factors which might help decide. A clear picture of a flower, showing the number and shape of petals, whether the flowers are held in clusters or individually per stem, whether they repeat flower or produce flowers in one flush per year, whether they are fragrant, whether they produce hips and what they look like, the size and number of thorns on the stems, as well as overall growth habit.

They both look a bit of a mess at the moment, so it looks as if a good prune is necessary - you should start by removing dead wood and stems, anything which is infected or unhealthy, anything thin and weak, any stems which cross and rub each other, along with anything that is clearly a sucker; if the plant is still overcrowded, then it may be necessary to remove more stems, but if not, then prune back healthy stems to a strong, outward facing bud, fertilize in late spring and, if possible, mulch with composted animal manure, and see how they develop this year.

  • The pruning tips are a huge help, since that's basically why we want to ID them (for care guidelines.) I took some flower photos last fall, but not clear ones, so we'll wait til summer to try again. At least now I know what I'm looking for!
    – Lee M.
    Mar 12, 2017 at 3:04
  • Bear in mind that, even if you cut them right down to six inches, they will grow again, they're pretty tough - but its easier to get a better shape if you selectively prune, and less likely to force sucker growth.
    – Bamboo
    Mar 12, 2017 at 15:16
  • That makes me feel braver, thank you! I've only pruned hardy stuff like grapes before, and I assumed that roses were more particular, so it's go to know that a big plant can take it. (Though we'll stick tack your advice--my friend won't want to skip her summer blooms.)
    – Lee M.
    Mar 13, 2017 at 2:54

This is a perfect espalier project!! So close to the siding. Make sure to not prune more than 1/3 of this plant now. Later you will be able to more in 6 months. Be thinking about eyelet screws and wire structure a good foot from the siding to start encouraging branches to enjoy some direction.

The pruning you've already done is perfect. You've got some time to go research espaliers to decide the form you'd like. I am seeing a half fan to our right possibly an entire fan to go over the window. Cut off all rose hips and flowers. Pull back the mulch at the base.

This is either a climbing vine rose or a floribunda which is part shrub and part vine. Both work well as an espalier. Here are some good espalier ideas, great definers of types, and advice on pruning floribundas.

What direction does this wall face? Have you or your friend seen this plant in flower? Enlist the help from a good contractor or savvy boyfriend? Obviously this is a white rose and whatever it is, it is perfect for an espalier. Done correctly, the work will pay off by raising the value of your home.`

Something is covering your stem walls. It looks like concrete covered with a stucco or similar. Pull the mulch back and allow those concrete stem walls to dry. Paint with asphalt emulsion? Good thing to check. How is the moisture in your basement?

  • Love this idea! I'll share with my friend. I believe this wall faces south, but I'll ask. I'm impressed that you noticed the concrete. It covers an old brownstone foundation--and yup, they have moisture problems in the basement.
    – Lee M.
    Mar 12, 2017 at 3:08

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