Ramblers - Perth-Heritage-Roses

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About Old Roses > Heritage Groups

Ramblers are easily distinguished from climbers by their thinner, more pliable canes. Almost without exception, ramblers are once flowering in spring although sometimes they may have an autumn flush. The majority of ramblers have their heritage from Rosa wichurana or Rosa multiflora. They mostly flower on wood produced in the previous season.

If you are growing a rambler to cover an unsightly fence, dead tree, or outhouse, resist any pruning. Cut off any nasties that would decapitate your friends as they go past, and take out any dead wood. About every third or fourth year, you could thin out the jungle to give new canes a chance. Cutting off a couple of the old unproductive canes at the base can do this. Cut them, walk away, and come back in two weeks or so when you can see the dead laterals in the mass of growth. Cut and pull until this is all removed.

When growing ramblers on arches, pillars or as a swag on a catenary, remember that the more horizontal you can make the canes, the more laterals which will develop and therefore the more flowers. Ramblers do not mind going downhill whereas a climber may strongly object and die back. They also have very flexible canes that can be easily trained and kept in shape. Wind the canes around supporting posts, tying them in to restrain them. It seems that a maximum of six major canes to each plant gives the best result.

In summer, when a mature plant has finished flowering, cut all the ties and lay everything down on the ground to unravel the canes. Reduce the number of major canes to six by cutting off older unproductive canes. Trim laterals back to three or so buds before rewinding the canes and tying them back in. 

Experience at the VSRG has shown that by pruning ramblers in summer, they will put on more vegetative growth before dormancy, thus giving more flower power next spring. It is usually necessary to give a shaping trim in autumn, but be aware that any major surgery at this time will be at the expense of flowers.

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