General gardening topics

The difference between climbing and rambling roses

Last updated on February 5th, 2024

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Many people wonder whether rambling or climbing rose bushes are the same. However, the key differences that make them stand apart are the flowering times. You will find that the flowering frequency is the main difference most associated with them. Most rambling roses flower once around June time, whereas climbers often flower through summer but don’t usually have the same impact.

Other noticeable differences to summarise include:

  • Ramblers tend to be more vigorous and will cover a much larger area with many varieties getting to 20ft tall and nearly as wide, whilst climbers tend to get to around 6-12ft.
  • Climbing roses tend to need more pruning and care whilst rambling roses are tough and reliable and very little care needed for them to survive.
  • Rambling roses generally produce clusters of small flowers that smother the stems in big clusters whilst climbing roses often produce larger full flowers, like that of many Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses.

Climbing Roses vs Rambling Roses

The biggest difference is that rambling roses will flower at one time during the year, usually around June, and will flower for only a few weeks with the exception of odd varieties. Climbing roses, by comparison, will typically repeatedly flower throughout the summer and the autumn, however, there are a few exceptions to climbing roses too.

If you want your garden to be chock-full of roses throughout the month of June/July choosing a rambling rose bush is best because it will give you an overdose of roses that literally smother your garden for an entire month and they look absolutely amazing.

The climbing roses, by comparison, will not smother your garden and overwhelm you with the number of roses produced although sometimes they will produce a large show of flowers, they, more often than not, will give you flushes of flowers on a regular basis, still beautiful and long-lasting but without the same impressive impact. That being said it depends what you expect, as shown in the picture below, if pruned correctly they will give an amazing show.

White fence with roses

One way to capitalise upon both is to combine climbers and ramblers so that you get the impressive feature of month-long rambling roses in June for instant impact early on, followed by the repeat flowers for the remaining summer from the climbing rose. If you plant a June flowering rambling rose right next to your repeat-flowering climbing rose you can have roses from June through September and even into the first frost.

Best Varieties

Rambling rosesGoldfinch features apricot roses that are small in size with copper foliage.
Sander’s White provides loose groups of white flowers with dark green leaves.
Veilchenblau has purplish flowers that look beautiful if placed against a grey backdrop.
Paul’s Himalayan Musk features pale pink flowers.
Phyllis Bide has apricot and yellow coloured flowers and is more restrained than the other varieties.
Climbing rosesNew dawn offers pink and silver flowers with bright, apple green leaves.
Aloha has dark pink roses
Madame Alfred Carriere provided blue/white roses
Penny Lane has honey and champagne coloured roses with a rich scent
Madame Gregoire Staechelin offers larger, pink blooms with a smell of sweet pea.
Click here to see our top 10 climbing roses and you can see our top 8 roses for a shadier position here

Pruning Rambling Roses

If you have rambling roses, you will need to prune them by training them around something, removing older stems and cutting them down to the base. These pruned stems then get replaced by stronger, new branches that will fan out at the base. Rambling roses are very tolerant of diseases. Moreover, you don’t need to focus too much on deadheading and they can even be left to fend for themselves, however, after a few years, they can get untidy.

You can read a more detailed guide on pruning rambling roses here

Pruning Climbing Roses


Climbing roses need to be pruned in the winter. You should be nicer to these, without giving as much heavy pruning. It is recommended that you reduce the biggest leaders and then prune any side shoots. Most of the climbers have been highly bred so they are at risk for black spot. The best way to prevent this is to mulch directly underneath. If your climber is a repeat-flowerer you can deadhead it regularly to remove older blooms and encourage new blooms, which goes for most climbing roses.

Training climbing roses is important because it helps the plant to bend and coil which naturally inhibits the flow of sap. This is key to promoting more flowers. If you are preparing to train your climbing rose it is best to do it in autumn when you can bend the new stems without breaking them. When you set out to do this, pick strong stems (be sure to wear gloves) and then curl them as necessary around your stakes, pillars or fences.

You can read a more detailed guide on pruning climbing roses here

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