Climber And Rambler Roses
Climbing roses are not climbers in the sense that many vines are, since they do not send out tendrils
or other growths to attach them to their supports. Instead, climbers have long canes that are usually
tied to a support to keep them from arching to the ground. Some climbers have more pliable canes than
others; the stiffer types are best trained upright to a pillar or a
trellis, while the more pliable ones can be trained horizontally on a
fence, which also induces plants to increase their blooming. Most
climbers produce loose clusters of flowers that bloom on old
(last year's) wood, and most are fairly winter hardy. Many climbers,
though not all, repeat their bloom throughout the season.
Ramblers are the predecessors of climbers. Although many have disappeared
from the marketplace in favor of the larger-flowered climbers, some are still
available and worth growing. Ramblers are generally much larger plants than
climbers, with small flowers that are borne in large clusters on new wood. Most
ramblers bloom only once a year, and most are very winter hardy. Although they
can be allowed to sprawl, they produce tidier plants if they are tied to a
pillar, a fence, or some other support.
Here you will
find floribundas, polyanthas,
hybrid teas, and even
species roses. Often the distinction between bush
and climber is blurred, as in the case of many of
the English roses, which through pruning can be
maintained as shrubs, or can be allowed to stretch
their canes and be trained to climb up a trellis.
- 'Alberic Barbier' Roses (Introduced - 1900)
- Clusters of shapely yellow buds of 'Alberic Barbier' open
to creamy white flowers with a yellow blush. Semi- double
and double blossoms are 2 to 3 inches across and bear
a moderate, fruity fragrance. Plants flower heavily in early
summer and may repeat, although not reliably, in the
fall. Glossy dark leaves are almost evergreen and are
carried on purplish canes.
This easy-to-grow rambler requires a lot of space, since canes may grow 20 feet
in a single season. This rose can be
trained on fences or pillars, or may be used to cover a
building, especially in areas where mildew is not a problem. Tied
canes often produce lateral stems that arc downward for
a graceful display. This rose can also be used as a ground
cover. 'Alberic Barbier' is extremely disease resistant and
tolerates light shade and hot, dry climates.
- 'Albertine' Roses (Introduced - 1921)
- The buds of 'Albertine' open to bright orange-pink double
blooms that are golden at the base. Produced in
abundant clusters in summer, the cupped, fragrant flowers put
on a spectacular show that endures for about 3 weeks. As
the blooms age, they fade to a soft blush pink. Leaves are
glossy green with coppery red tones. Canes bear numerous
This vigorous rambler is fast growing and easily trained to a trellis, pergola,
or arbor. This rose can also be grown as a freestanding shrub.
The rose may be prone to mildew after flowering, but it
is otherwise disease resistant.
- 'Altissimo' Roses (Introduced - 1966)
- The large, single flowers of 'Altissimo' are 4 to 5 inches
across, with seven velvety, deep blood red petals
surrounding bright yellow stamens. Blooms occur in small
clusters and sometimes singly on both old and new growth,
beginning in summer and repeating throughout the
season. Although they have only a light scent, the blossoms last
a long time without fading, and they make beautiful cut
flowers. Leaves are large and dark green.
While generally classed as a climber that is suitable for
growing on pillars, fences, and trellises, 'Altissimo' rose can also be grown as
a tall, freestanding shrub with an upright habit. This rose is
vigorous, heat tolerant, and disease resistant.
- 'America' Roses (Introduced - 1976)
- Named to honor the United States bicentennial, 'America'
produces 3 1/2 - to 5-inch double blossoms in great profusion
throughout the season. Flowers are coral colored with high
centers and are usually borne in clusters; their fragrance is
strong and spicy. Foliage is semi-glossy, dark, and leathery.
Plants are upright and bushy, and are suitable for training on pillars, fences,
and walls. Flowers, produced on both new and old shoots, can be cut for
long-lasting indoor arrangements. 'America' rose is easy to grow, disease
resistant, and hardy.
- 'American Pillar' Roses (Introduced - 1902)
- The five-petaled single blossoms of 'American Pillar' are
carmine-pink with white centers and golden stamens.
Erupting once in midsummer, they are produced in large
clusters that almost cover the entire plant. Flowers have no
scent. Leaves are leathery, large, and dark green; canes
are green and prickly.
The plant is very vigorous, growing to 20 feet, and is best
used for climbing on a fence or arbor. Like other ramblers,
this rose may be subject to mildew.
- 'Blaze' Roses (Introduced - 1932)
- Clusters of cup-shaped scarlet blossoms occur on both
old and new wood of 'Blaze' throughout the growing
season. Flowers are semi-double, 2 to 3 inches across, lightly
fragrant, and nonfading, even in hot weather. Early flowers are
somewhat larger than those produced later in the season.
Dark green leathery foliage contrasts nicely with the
continuous show of blooms.
This easy-to-grow rose has a vigorous, upright habit, and its canes are quick to
reach their height of 12 to 15 feet, making it a good choice for fences, arbors,
pillars, and porches. This rose is quite hardy but is somewhat susceptible to
- 'Butterscotch' Roses (Introduced - 1986)
- Hybridizer William Warriner originally wanted to name this rose 'Coffee and Cream',
a name that closely evokes its unusual tannish to golden brown color
that fades as the flowers mature. Perhaps he should have, since
the name 'Butterscotch' still technically belongs to a hybrid tea
introduced in 1942. The slightly
fragrant, 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-inch flowers have 25 loosely cupped petals and
bloom in small clusters all season. Plants are slow growing to 8- to
10- feet and have medium green, semi-glossy foliage.
- 'Chevy Chase' Roses (Introduced - 1939)
- This rambler has masses of small (1- to 2-inch), dark crimson-red, fragrant flowers
with 65 petals that bloom in large clusters, once per season.
Plants are vigorous, attaining heights of about 15 feet, and have
soft, light green, wrinkled leaves.
- 'City of York' Roses (Introduced - 1945)
- The semi-double cup-shaped blooms of 'City of York' are
creamy white with yellow centers and are pleasantly
fragrant. They appear once per season over a lengthy period
in the spring in large clusters of seven to 15 flowers. Leaves
are glossy and leathery.
This vigorous rose is very effective in the spring, when its abundant pale
blooms create a dramatic contrast against lush, dark foliage.
This rose is tolerant of partial shade and can be
grown on a north wall. It's
also a good choice for a trellis.
- 'Don Juan' Roses (Introduced - 1958)
- This rose produces extremely large, fragrant flowers, singly
or in small clusters, throughout the growing season. The
dark red, nearly black buds are oval and open slowly
to reveal 4- to 5-inch high-centered or cupped blossoms
with a deep velvety color that is among the darkest of all red
roses. Flowers are borne on long stems, making them
ideal for cutting. Leaves are dark and glossy.
'Don Juan' rose is a moderate to vigorous grower with an
upright habit. Deadheading spent blossoms will
encourage rebloom. The plant is very effective on a pillar, fence,
wall, or trellis. Although not extremely hardy, its disease
resistance is good.
- 'Dorothy Perkins' Roses (Introduced - 1901)
- Pale rose-pink, 2- to 3-inch flowers are fragrant, fully double and
decorative, blooming over dark green, shiny leaves. This rambler
is vigorous, growing 10- to 20- feet high, but it blooms only once
- 'Dortmund' Roses (Introduced - 1955)
- Technically, this rose is one of the Kordesii shrubs, but because of its
extreme vigor, this rose is nearly
always grown as a climber. Like the other Kordesii shrubs,
'Dortmund' rose descends from a cross between the memorial rose
(Rosa wicburaiana) and R. rugosa, and so it is exceptionally hardy and
disease resistant. Its glossy, holly like foliage sets off the large, slightly
ruffled, single, red blooms, each with a white eye surrounding the central knot
of brilliant yellow stamens. Deadhead the flowers to encourage repeat bloom;
leave them to wither on the stems in the fall so that you can enjoy the pretty
orange hips. But beware of the jumbo thorns.
- 'Dr. J.H. Nicolas' Roses (Introduced - 1940)
- Globular, 4- to 5-inch flowers of medium rose-pink are borne in small sprays
that give the plant an airy look. The fragrant flowers, with 50
petals, bloom repeatedly against dark green, leathery foliage. This
variety grows best upright on a 10-foot pillar or trellis.
- 'Dr. W. Van Fleet' Roses (Introduced - 1910)
- Cameo pink flowers fade to flesh white as they mature. They are 2 to 3 inches
across and bloom only once a year. The fragrant double flowers
are high-centered at first but open quickly into flat, decorative
blooms. Dark green, small, glossy foliage clothes this vigorous
climber that can grow 15- to 20- feet high.
- 'Dublin Bay' Roses (Introduced - 1976)
- Produced in clusters, the 4- to 4 1/2-inch blood red flowers of
'Dublin Bay' appear continuously from spring until frost.
Blooms are double, cupped, and fragrant. They have a
velvety texture and show off well against the rich green foliage.
The plant is somewhat slow growing. This rose can perform as a
shrub during its first few seasons and then become a fine
climber with an upright, well branched habit, perfect for a
low fence, pillar, stone wall, or trellis. 'Dublin Bay' rose is
- 'Etain' Roses (Introduced - 1953)
- This rambler has slightly fragrant, salmon-pink, 3-inch double flowers borne
in large clusters. The leaves are glossy, reddish brown, and almost evergreen in
milder climates. The open plant is vigorous, growing 10- to 12- feet high, and
quickly covers slopes or fences. This is one of the few ramblers that repeats
its bloom and grows best in light shade.
- 'Excelsa' Roses (Introduced - 1909)
- Sometimes called 'Red
Dorothy Perkins', this rambler has medium red, double, cupped,
ruffled, 2-inch flowers that are borne in large, heavy clusters.
Rich green, glossy leaves cover 12- to 18-foot plants that bloom
only once per season.
- 'Fortune's Double Yellow' Roses (Introduced - 1845)
- The clusters of loosely double flowers of this popular old climber have been
described as apricot with rose shades, salmon tinged with red, yellow tinged
with copper, and so on. However you describe it, the colors are captivating and
contrast nicely with the delicate, apple green foliage. This rose blooms heavily in
springtime, and thrives in both the Southeast and the Southwest.
Indeed, 'Fortune's Double Yellow' rose has escaped from cultivation to
naturalize in southern California, which testifies to the ease with which this
rose may be cultivated. Although it can be grown as a sprawling shrub, this rose is most effective as a climber; it is spectacular
when the canes have been trained up into the limbs of an
open-canopied tree, to spill back down to the ground in a curtain of
- 'Gloire de Dijon' Roses (Introduced - 1853)
- Though classified as a climbing tea rose, this cultivars blossoms
have the look of its Bourbon rose parent, 'Souvenir de la
Malmaison'. The flowers of 'Gloire de Dijon' are large, round, quartered, buff
yellow with pink-apricot shading, and have a rich fragrance. 'Gloire de Dijon'
rose begins the season with a heavy crop of flowers and then repeats well into
the fall. This rose is a good source of cut flowers.
- 'Golden Showers' Roses (Introduced - 1956)
- This relatively short-caned climber bears large, ruffled,
semi-double, daffodil yellow blooms with red stamens, providing a
large flush of flowers in late spring or early summer, then
faltering a bit and producing another big flush in fall. Although
'Golden Showers' rose prefers full sun, it will tolerate some shade and so is a
good choice when a rose is needed for a north-facing wall. By periodically
pruning back the canes, this rose can be maintained as a large specimen shrub.
This rose is somewhat cold sensitive and
performs best in the Mid-Atlantic states and the South.
- 'Goldstern' Roses (Introduced - 1966)
- An exceptionally hardy climber.
Although this rose was bred by another German nurseryman, Matt Tantau, it descends from the Kordes nursery.
This rose is
usually grown as a climber, though in a large spot and an informal
planting, it could be allowed to sprawl. 'Goldstern' rose is especially good for
cold, exposed sites. It bears clusters of long, pointed buds that open into 4 in
(10cm) fully double flowers that are flattened
like architectural rosettes. The fragrance of the flowers is only
slight. The leaves are medium green, glossy, and usually healthy. The
new foliage is pale green edged with red, making a pleasant contrast.
- 'Handel' Roses (Introduced - 1965)
- The cream-colored double flowers of 'Handel' are edged
with rosy pink. They open from shapely spiraled buds to
high-centered or cupped 3 1/2- inch blooms that produce a
light fragrance. Blooms appear in abundance in early
summer and repeat well through fall. Hot weather
increases the pink flower color in both area and intensity.
Foliage is olive green and glossy.
'Handel' rose grows upright and is a popular climber for pillars, walls, fences,
and small structures because of its prolific flowering ability and the unusual
coloring of its blooms. This rose
tolerates light shade but is prone to black spot.
- 'Henry Kelsey' Roses (Introduced - 1984)
- A super hardy climber from Agriculture Canada's explorer series
of roses, in early summer 'Henry Kelsey' rose bears a
heavy crop of clustered, vivid red, semi-double blooms with showy
golden stamens and a spicy scent. After slacking off in July, it
returns with a strong showing in late summer and early fall. 'Henry
Kelsey' has demonstrated some susceptibility to blackspot but
otherwise seems quite disease resistant.
Given lots of room, this rose may be allowed to sprawl as a wide, arching shrub,
but this rose is more often trained as a climber on a
split-rail fence or trellis.
- 'Joseph's Coat' Roses (Introduced - 1964)
- The clusters of double blossoms of 'Joseph's Coat' rose create
an amazing riot of color, with yellows, pinks, oranges, and
reds all present at the same time. The red and orange
tones become more prominent in autumn. Buds are urn
shaped, and unlike those of many climbers they occur on
new wood. Flowers are 3-inch cups that are lightly fragrant,
leaves are dark green and glossy, and canes are prickly.
The plant is tall and upright. This rose can be trained as a climber on a
pillar, fence, or trellis or, because it is not very robust, can be allowed to
grow as a loose, freestanding shrub. This rose is
somewhat tender and prone to powdery mildew.
- 'Martin Frobisher' Roses (Introduced - 1968)
- The first of the Canadian explorer roses, this cultivar descends
in part from the central Asian species Rosa rugosa, and in fact
'Martin Frobisher' is often classified as a hybrid rugosa. However
you classify it, this rose shares its forebear's vigor and immunity to
cold. This rose may show
some susceptibility to blackspot and rust, but in general it is a
The small, very double, soft pink rosettes are borne over a long
season. Though 'Martin Frobisher' is technically a shrub, its narrow,
upright habit lends itself to training along a fence or pillar.
- 'May Queen' Roses (Introduced - 1898)
- This rambler has a profusion of very double, quartered, 2-inch pink flowers with a fruity
fragrance that open fairly flat. Plants occasionally repeat their
bloom, an unusual ability for a rambler, and can grow to 25- feet.
They can be allowed to climb or can be grown as a shrub.
- 'Mermaid' Roses (Introduced - 1918)
- This rose functions like floral white-out. Plant it next to an
unsightly shed or an ugly fence and step back. 'Mermaid' rose will
take a year or two to establish itself but then it will bury the
eyesore with awesome speed, especially in warmer climates. The huge
(5 in [13cm]), single, canary yellow blooms have showy golden
stamens that remain attractive after the petals have fallen. The
impressive thorns make 'Mermaid' an effective barrier but also make
pruning a chore; plant this rose where you can let it roam at will.
- 'Minnehaha' Roses (Introduced - 1905)
- This rambler has small (1- to 2-inch), semi-double, slightly fragrant, flat flowers of light pink that
fade to white and bloom in large clusters once a year. Plants grow 15-
to 20- feet high and have small, shiny, dark green leaves.
- 'New Dawn' Roses (Introduced - 1930)
- This rose was regarded as so special when it was released onto
the market that it received the first plant patent ever granted
by the U.S . government. 'New Dawn' rose is an everblooming sport of
an old, ironclad rambler named 'Dr. W. Van Fleet', and the
off-spring shares the parent's toughness. This rose bears pearl pink,
cupped, semi-double blooms that fade to a rose-cream color with bright gold
stamens once fully open. This rose may be maintained as an open, arching shrub,
but because of its extraordinarily vigorous growth, 'New Dawn' is usually grown
as a climber. This rose is especially
beautiful when trained up into a tree and allowed to cascade back
down. Because this rose tolerates less than ideal conditions, it's a
good selection for a difficult site.
- 'Paul's Scarlet Climber' Roses (Introduced - 1916)
- 'Paul's Scarlet Climber' rose looks very similar to 'Blaze', its offspring, except
that it rarely has recurrent bloom. Its large clusters of bright
scarlet 2- to 3-inch flowers are semi-double, decorative, and slightly
fragrant. Plants are very vigorous, growing 15- to 20- feet high, are
quite winter hardy, and have dark green, glossy, disease-resistant
- 'Pelé' Roses (Introduced - 1979)
- Technically a climbing hybrid tea
(for which there is no bush counterpart), 'Pelé' rose has 4-inch, double
white flowers with 35 petals that are borne in small sprays all
season and have a fruity fragrance. Upright canes grow to 10- feet
in height and are clothed in medium green, triangular foliage and
hooked thorns. This variety was named for the famous soccer player.
- 'Pink Pillar' Roses (Introduced - 1940)
- This rambler has a very
distinct citrus fragrance. The long-lasting 2-inch flowers, which
bloom repeatedly after opening from dark pink buds, have 16 to
20 petals and are a blend of pale pink, coral, and orange. The
petals have scalloped edges and the flowers bloom in small clusters.
Plants grow 7- to 8- feet high and are very winter hardy.
- 'Piñata' Roses (Introduced - 1978)
- Flowers are similar to 'Joseph's
Coat'-yellow diffused with orange and red-but are somewhat
larger (3 to 4 inches). The blooms, which are slightly fragrant,
have 28 petals and open with a high center. Plants repeat bloom
dependably and are strong enough to stand alone as a shrub.
Canes are too stiff for training to a fence, but the plant may be
grown on an 8-foot pillar.
- 'Prairie Dawn' Roses (Introduced - 1959)
- One of the prairie roses bred at the Morden Research Station in
Manitoba, this tall, super hardy shrub rose has suffered little damage even in
the near-arctic winters at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
This rose has also demonstrated some susceptibility to
blackspot and leaf spot in the rose trials there, but in general this is
a healthy rose.
'Prairie Dawn' rose bears semi-double, radiant pink flowers in repeated
flushes throughout the season. These flowers are of moderate size,
roughly 3 in (7 .6cm) in diameter, and are moderately fragrant. This
is a terrific city shrub for fences or walls where the wind and
exposure would kill other roses.
- 'Red Fountain' Roses (Introduced - 1975)
- Arching canes are filled with clusters of velvety dark red, very fragrant,
ruffled and cupped 3-inch blooms with 20 to 25 petals that bloom
all season. Plants are strong and vigorous, growing 12- to 14- feet
high, making this a good pillar or trellis rose. Foliage is dark green
- 'Rhonda' Roses (Introduced - 1968)
- Hybridized by an amateur, 'Rhonda' rose has clusters of double, slightly fragrant, salmon-pink,
4-inch flowers that bloom repeatedly on vigorous, 8-foot plants over
dark green, glossy foliage.
- 'Royal Gold' Roses (Introduced - 1957)
- Deep golden yellow, nonfading flowers are moderately fragrant, blooming heavily at
the start of the season and then repeating sporadically. The
4-inch, cup-shaped flowers have 35 petals and bloom singly or in
small clusters. Stiff, compact plants grow 5- to 10- feet high.
- 'Royal Sunset' Roses (Introduced - 1960)
- High-centered or cup-shaped, 4 1/2- to 5-inch flowers are fragrant and deep apricot,
fading to light peach in summer heat. Repeat-blooming flowers have
20 petals. Leathery foliage is coppery green, disease resistant, and
somewhat tender. Stiff plants grow about 6- feet high.
- 'Silver Moon' Roses (Introduced - 1910)
- The long, pointed yellow buds of 'Silver Moon' open to large
creamy white single or semi-double flowers. Borne singly
or in clusters, the flowers are 4 1/2 inches across with up to 20
petals that surround golden amber stamens. Blooms do
not repeat. Their fragrance is fruity. Foliage is large, dark,
leathery, and glossy.
'Silver Moon' rose is a very vigorous and strong climber, and
may reach beyond 20 feet. Effective on a trellis or other
support, it is also an ideal rose for training into a tree.
Though somewhat shy about flowering, the blooms it does
produce are outstanding.
- 'Sombreuil' Roses (Introduced - 1850)
- One of the hardiest of the tea roses, 'Sombreuil' is a glory of the South
that can also be enjoyed throughout much of the North. This graceful old climber
bears large, very double, cream-colored flowers that are quartered and flat when
fully open. After blooming heavily at the beginning of the season, this rose will rebloom
dependably. The foliage is glossy and leathery, providing a nice foil
for the pale flowers.
'Sombreuil' is a vigorous but mannerly rose that is easily
controlled -but don't plant it near a walk, for it is very definitely
thorny. Instead, 'Sombreuil' is at its best on a pillar, low wall, trellis,
or any place you can enjoy its delicious tea scent in safety.
- 'Tausendschön' Roses (Introduced - 1906)
- 'Thousand beauties" is the translation of this rose's name, but that is an
understatement. In fact, a well-grown specimen of this plant offers far more
beauties than that when it buries itself under myriad clusters of small pompon
blossoms for several weeks in early summer. These blossoms open a deep rose pink
with white centers, then fade to a blushing white. As it's nearly thornless,
this rose is a
good choice for a pillar or arch in a high-traffic area. Use it as a
living trellis for a clematis to extend the season of bloom. Or let
'Tausendschön' rose sprawl and use it as a ground cover.
- 'Tempo' Roses (Introduced - 1975)
- An early bloomer, this is one
of the first climbers to come into flower in the garden. Its deep
red, high-centered, very double flowers are 3 to 4 inches across
and bloom in clusters all summer on tidy, 8-foot plants. Flowers
are long lasting and slightly fragrant. Dark green leaves are large,
glossy, and very disease resistant.
- 'Veilchenblau' Roses (Introduced - 1909)
- This rose not only tolerates some shade, but it shows its best
colors there. In a sunny spot, its reddish purple buds open to
small, semi-double purple-violet flowers streaked with white and
tufted with golden stamens. The scent of 'Veilchenblau' is that of
oranges. In partial shade, the blossoms open lilac blue, as close
to a true blue as you will find in a rose that has not been
A vigorous climber, 'Veilchenblau' can be trained up a trellis, or
the canes can be infiltrated into the branches of a small tree, where
they will scramble up in a beautifully informal display. Providing
good air circulation around this rose is particularly important in a
shaded site if the foliage is to remain free of powdery mildew.
- 'White Dawn' Roses (Introduced - 1949)
- This was the first and is
still the best white-flowered climber. Its fragrant, clustered, snow
white, 3-inch flowers are gardenia shaped, double (35 petals), and
repeat blooming. Foliage is glossy, and the plants are vigorous,
growing to 15 feet, and winter hardy.
- 'William Baffin' Roses (Introduced - 1968)
- Although all the Canadian explorer roses are tough, this one
may be the toughest. Not only will 'William Baffin' tolerate
winter temperatures that plunge to -50°F (-45°C), but it is also practically
disease free when planted in the North. Although this rose can be grown as a
tall shrub, it looks best when tied in and disciplined as a climber. This rose
blooms steadily throughout the summer and into the fall, bearing large clusters
of 3 in (7.5 cm)
strawberry pink blossoms with white centers marked by knots of
showy yellow stamens. Remember this rose for your hour of need:
it flourishes on the kind of windy, exposed sites where few other
climbers will survive.
- 'Yellow Blaze' Roses (Introduced - 1989)
- This sport of the floribunda 'Sun Flare' has clusters of 3-inch, double, showy bright
yellow flowers with 25 to 30 petals and a light licorice fragrance.
Repeat-blooming plants grow 12- to 14- feet high with glossy, disease-resistant
- 'Zéphirine Drouhin' Roses (Introduced - 1868)
- Parents of small children will appreciate this Bourbon rose's
thornless stems; this characteristic also makes it a good
selection for running up an arch over a busy path, since it won't snag
passersby. Traditionally, 'Zéphirine Drouhin' rose has been espaliered against a
wall or trellis, though it can also be allowed to sprawl as an outsize shrub in
an informal cottage-type garden. Deliciously fragrant, loosely cupped,
cerise-pink blooms appear almost continuously through the season.
This rose has a delicious old-rose fragrance.