Ramblers and climbing roses are often confused. Rambling roses are far more vigorous and offer one fantastic flush of flowers, usually in June. Climbers often repeat flower and have larger and fewer flowers.
Rambling roses need plenty of space as they grow quickly. They’re ideal for growing up a tree or tumbling over a wall. Ramblers can even be used to scramble down a bank. If you have an ugly shed or dead tree stump in the garden then a rambling rose will cover unsightly items. Allow a late flowering clematis to scramble up it to extend the season of interest.
Rambling rose flowers are followed by colourful hips in autumn.
How to grow rambling roses
PLant rambling roses in moist but well-drained, fertile soil, in full sun to partial shade. Train into a support such as a pergola or trellis. There’s no need to deadhead as rambling roses aren’t repeat flowering, and develop beautiful rose hips, which are also eaten by birds. Prune and tie in new growth after flowering. Mulch around your climbing rose in autumn, to prevent the spread of fungal infections such as black spot.
More on growing roses:
- Rose types explained
- How to grow shrub and species roses
- How to grow ground cover roses
- How to grow climbing roses
- Rose problems solved
- Trouble-free roses
- What to grow with roses
Fine out how to grow rambling roses in our comprehensive Grow Guide.
Where to plant rambling roses
Grow rambling roses in full sun or light shade where there’s plenty of room to grow. Unlike climbers they’re not as easy to train tight against a wall. Allow space to the front, sides and above. It’s likely that they’ll swallow up neighbouring plants if not kept in check. For this reason it’s rare to find ramblers growing in small gardens.
Ramblers are not suitable for growing up obelisks or over lightweight supports.
A well-drained soil with plenty of well-rotted organic matter mixed in is ideal. Rambling roses will grow in most soils as long as they’re fertile.
How to plant rambling roses
Container-grown rambling roses can be planted at any time of the year but must be kept well-watered if planted in summer.
Rambling roses are often purchased in autumn and winter as bare-root specimens. Plant these on a dry, frost-free day. Rambling roses need plenty of space, so space plants out generously as growth is fast. Dig a hole at least twice the depth and width of the root ball and add some well-rotted organic matter to the planting hole.
Tease out the roots and position your rose in the hole, ensuring that it’s planted at the same depth as it was in the pot, or look for a soil ‘tide mark’ on the stem. Backfill and firm in place with your heel, then water in well.
How to care for rambling roses
Train rambling roses against walls by using strong galvanised wires. Ramblers bear only one flush of flowers, which are followed by rose hips, so they don’t need to be deadheaded, unless you have chosen a repeat-flowering rambler such as ‘Super Fairy’ or ‘Malvern Hills’.
Feed in spring with a general purpose fertiliser, and mulch in autumn with well-rotted manure, compost or leaf mould.
Rambling roses flower well in early years without any pruning. However, they need annual pruning once established. After flowering, cut side shoots back to four healthy shoots. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged stems right down to the base. Avoid pruning the current year’s growth as this will carry next year’s flowers.
Watch Monty explain how to prune a rambling rose while ensuring it retains its natural, scrambling habit:
How to propagate rambling roses
Rambling roses are most successfully propagated by taking hardwood cuttings in autumn.
Remove a pencil-thick piece of stem from the current season’s growth, about 30cm long. Remove the soft tip, cutting just above a healthy bud at an angle that is cut away from the bud. This prevents water from settling around the bud and causing rotting (this will also help you identify the top of the cutting).
Dig a shallow trench in the garden in a sunny, sheltered spot and place a layer of horticultural sand in the base. Insert the cuttings so that two-thirds of each cutting is below the surface, and backfill. You should see signs of growth the following spring.
Growing rambling roses: problem solving
Avoid planting rambling roses where a rose previously grew. Rose replant disease is a little understood problem but plants often struggle to thrive.
As with all other roses, ramblers can be prone to black spot, aphids, dieback and powdery mildew. However, good garden hygiene will reduce the risk of infection. Clear up fallen leaves and prune with clean secateurs. A thick autumn muclh around your rambling rose can prevent fungal infections spreading from the soil.
Rose powdery mildew is a fungus that produces airborne spores. Leaves and flower buds are covered in white, powdery fungal growth in summer. Often occurs when soils are dry, humidity is high and air movement poor. To prevent, water plants in dry summers. Very badly affected stems should be pruned out. Suitable fungicides are available.
Rambling roses to grow
- Rosa ‘Sanders White’ – fragrant semi-double white flowers in July. Stems are quite thorny. Reaches a height and spread of 3.5m
- Rosa ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ – very rampant rambler ideal of light shade. Sprays of bluey pink, highly fragrant flowers in June and July. Height and spread 3m
- Rosa ‘The Lady of the Lake’ – a repeat flowering rambler with semi-double soft-pink flowers from June to August. Height 4.5m, spread 2m
- Rosa ‘Albéric Barbier’ – pale, lemon-white flowers in June and July. Slightly scented. Often used to cover small buildings. Height 6m, spread 4m
- Rosa filipes ‘Kiftsgate’ – an incredibly vigorous rambler with sprays of single or double white scented flowers in June. Wonderful autumn hips. Height 10m, spread 4m