The Story of the “Peggy Martin” Climbing Rose

The “Peggy Martin Rose” was one of only two plants surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Peggy Martin. Located in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in late August, 2005 Peggy Martin’s family returned to her home and found these beautiful roses had not only survived but continued to climb.

Peggy Martin Climbing Roses at Tom's thumb Nursery in Galveston, Texas

Since then, it has been introduced into commerce in the United States and has become a symbol among gardeners and rose lovers of a tenacious plant associated with a spirit of renewal and regrowth in the aftermath of a devastating blow of Nature against those living and gardening in the Gulf Coast area.

How To Care For Your Roses-7 Tips for Growing Climbers

1. Climbers need sunlight. Like all other roses, they’re happiest with at least six to eight hours of sun a day. Otherwise, you’ll have scraggly stems, fewer and smaller flowers and disease issues.

2. Choose varieties that like our climate. Tom’s Thumb offers a number of plants that are reliable on the Gulf Coast.

3. Select the right climber for your space. Some have mannerly canes that don’t exceed 8 feet; others can eat the barn, as they say, with canes of 20 feet or longer. The “Peggy Martin,” can cover a fence quickly, flushing in the spring and fall with large clusters of small, bright-pink blossoms.

4. Provide a strong support. Robust varieties quickly outgrow flimsy trellises. Iron supports are best in our area, where wood can deteriorate quickly. String extra wire across structures if the gaps are large.

5. Give them some love. Climbers must be trained, unless you want a wild, shocked-hair look. Be vigilant about weaving flexible new canes carefully through your trellis or post support. If a cane isn’t behaving, just cut it. Others will grow.

6. Prune as needed. You can prune repeat-blooming climbers at any time of year to maintain their shape. Prune spring-only bloomers, such as “Lady Banks,” after they’ve put on their show so you don’t remove buds.

6. Feed twice a year. More if you have time and energy. Like all roses, climbers appreciate a monthly feeding of a soluble organic compost tea. For a lush spring show, give them special attention around Valentine’s Day: Water the plant well, then sprinkle a cup of epsom salts (to encourage more stems) and a cup of granular organic fertilizer such as MicroLife or Mills Magic Rose Mix (to encourage blooms) around the base of the plant; water in the dry materials with at least a half-gallon of diluted compost tea (preferably aerated, but that’s a project). Spread a 3-inch layer of quality mulch around the plant, pushing it away from the base to form a slight “doughnut” mound that will direct water toward the roots. Repeat in late August or early September for a fall flush, and keep a vase handy.

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