Rose Cages, Lobster Pots & Tops

Practical support for roses, clematis and other climbing plants. Use lobster pot tops for perennials prone to flop and sprawl.

Lesley Ann's Tip

“I paired my favourite rose, ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, with one of the patio clematis, ‘Boulevard (R)’, in a tall lobster pot. They give me a long flowering season and the most lovely of colour combinations.”


What is the best support for roses?

Roses come in so many shapes and habits, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Our rose obelisks are designed to accommodate the most exuberant varieties – being open-topped allows very long stems to cascade down in a waterfall of colour and scent. Alternatively, you can train climbers and ramblers to cover a trellis, either fixed to a wall or free-standing. We also have a special rose umbrella for standard roses. Supports have an aesthetic as well as a practical role, and we have seen roses grown to great effect within our decorative lobster pots and even groundcover roses given a new look when lifted by low-set peony supports.

How do you keep roses standing up?

A sturdy bush rose shouldn’t need any support but some forms of free-standing rose are often better for a little help. Shrub roses with long stems or a lax habit look wonderful, and are better behaved, if contained within a large support such as one of our obelisks or outsize herbaceous supports. We have also designed a rose umbrella for standard roses. Standards inevitably have a weak point at the graft between the trunk and the top growth, and the last thing you want to see after a stormy night is your standard’s topknot rolling around the lawn like tumbleweed!

What should you not plant around roses?

There aren’t many plants that don’t mix well with roses, but it always helps to think ‘right plant, right place’. The image of pretty roses rising out of a sea of lush hosta leaves may seem appealing, but roses and hostas require very different conditions. So, as a general rule, it’s better to avoid forcing shade lovers or bog plants to share space with roses – one or the other will fail to thrive. The list of garden flowers that do beautifully complement roses is a long one, but I’d just like to make a special mention of alliums. Like all members of the garlic family, they are recommended as companion plants for roses to ward off aphids and black spot and are even said to enhance the roses’ fragrance. Lots of roses look even better when they are grown inside a rose cage or up an obelisk.

How do I keep roses plants from falling over?

There are a few varieties of rose whose breeding has left them with necks not strong enough to hold up their flower heads, but mostly, like other plants – and indeed us – roses droop if they are unhappy. They are most likely to be parched or waterlogged. Roses thrive best in a good, nutrient-rich soil – they generally do better in clay than poor sandy soil – but they have long roots that will seek out the nutrition they need from some distance; adding mycorrhizal fungi when planting will also encourage their early development. It is possible to overfeed them, however, which will make their growth lax and sappy and so prone to droop. As in so many things, the answer is a happy medium but remember to give them good support!

How do you encourage roses to climb?

Some roses, such as ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ are vigorous enough to be encouraged up trees (tied onto the trunk until they reach the branches which they will scramble through). I had a flowering cherry with a ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ covering it and enjoyed two seasons of lovely flowers each year. Other, smaller climbers, need a support such as a metal trellis to climb up. Trellises are normally fixed to a wall or fence, although they can be sunk into the ground. Fan out the main stems of the rose and tie them to the trellis; in the spring, tie in the new growth to left and right onto the horizontal bars of the grid. This will give good coverage of a wall or fence and will encourage more flowers as roses, like most climbing plants, flower better when trained horizontally. The most beautiful trellis-trained rose I have ever seen was a large specimen of ‘Cooper’s Burmese’ grown against a sunny wall at Thetford Arboretum - it’s creamy white flowers glowed against deep, glossy green leaves and it was thriving in full sun.

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