The Climbing and Rambling Roses are arguably the best of all climbing plants. They are enormously variable and versatile and many combine very beautiful individual flowers with a wonderful fragrance. Roses are seldom better displayed than when they look down at us from above and it is surprising that many of the best Climbing and Rambling Roses are rarely seen and difficult to obtain. There seems to be almost unending possibilities for the use of Climbers and Ramblers and there can be few plants more essential for the garden. The most important of these uses is, of course, the clothing of the walls of the house and elsewhere, but they are also excellent for growing on pillars, obelisks, arches and pergolas and over fences. Strong Ramblers may be encouraged to grow into trees, from which their flowers will hang down in festoons others may be allowed to clamber over shrubs and hedges.
Another idea is to train them along a post and rail fence. If you have an unsightly object such as a shed, this may be attractively covered with a strong Rambler. Rambling roses usually have numerous small to medium-sized flowers held in large bunches, and have the ability to send up strong, often lax stems from the base of the plant. They flower with great freedom, giving a mass of blooms, in most cases just once a year although an increasing number do now repeat flower. Those with single or semi double flowers arc often strongly and deliciously fragrant it is a musky fragrance that emanates from the stamens and is very characteristic of the Ramblers. It walls on the air and is detectable from some distance away.
Most Ramblers are extremely tough and reliable and will cope well with competition from the roots of trees and shrubs. Usually they require little pruning except for the removal of older growth when this becomes too dense. They form a very important group that is worthy of more attention in present day gardens even if they are quite small as there are a number of ramblers that are very moderate in vigour. Apart from the situations listed above they can also be grown with no support into a large flower-covered mound. Do not be put off by the fact that most only flower once in the summer many have beautiful hips which are a valuable source of food for the birds. They can also be used as support for other climbers, such as the many varieties of Clematis viticella or C. alpina.
Climbers on the other hand usually have large flowers and most repeat flower. Their growth is also mostly stiffer and more upright but less vigorous and so serve different functions to ramblers in the garden. They are best suited to growing on walls, trellis, arches, obelisks and pillars as they can be kept under control without too much effort. Warm south facing walls will give extra scope for growing choice varieties like that of the Tea and Noisette groups which are generally not very hardy in the UK garden and prefer sun baked positions. On the other hand it is still possible to grow climbers on open north facing walls, the best being the various members of the climbing English Roses.
I hope you will enjoy this review of the best of the Climbing and Rambling roses and be inspired to plant more in your garden.
Climbing and Rambler Roses in the Garden
The Rose is the most adaptable of flowers, in fact it’s hard to think of a more useful garden plant. There really does seem to be a rose for every part of the garden. This is particularly true of the climbing roses that can adorn anything from walls to obelisks or be directed to weave through trees and clamber over roofs. The following will hopefully help you to find some new places to plant Climbing and Rambling roses in your garden.
The first and most important place for these roses is on the walls of the house or, indeed, any other building. A rose that is grown in this way becomes very intimate to us and probably gives us more pleasure than any other individual rose in the garden. It is possible that we pass it several times a day. And a flower seldom looks better than when it is seen on the branch of a Climbing Rose. The individual flowers look us in the face and, against a suitable background, show themselves off to the very best effect.
Most Climbing Roses can be planted to grow against walls but the English Climbers and Modern Climbers are particularly suitable. Both groups have several advantages: they usually grow to heights that can be managed easily without danger to life or limb they hold their flowers lower down, where they can more easily be appreciated and, not least, they arc reliably repeat flowering, which is something that cannot be said for many other Climbing Roses.
I do not wish to dismiss other groups of climbers. The Hybrid Teas are at their most beautiful in their climbing forms. Regular repeat flowering should not be expected from most of these roux. A good display in early summer and a lesser crop in late summer is about as much as they can manage. Most Climbing Roses will benefit from some form of pest and disease control although the Hybrid Tea types even more so.
The Noiscttes are among the most beautiful of Climbing Roses, although they are limited in their colour range. Most varieties are both vigorous and healthy. They are particularly useful where we need to cover a larger area indeed, some varieties grow so vigorously that they will smother a small building. They are Old Roses and there are not many varieties still with us. A few are less vigorous but they are usually hybrids of the Tea Roses.
Arches and Pergolas
A well-clothed arch can be an appealing feature in any garden wherever a suitable position can be found. Where you place it is important. There must be a certain logic to its placement, as, for example, where one part of the garden leads to another. Alternatively, a series of arches along a path can be attractive. No doubt many other ideas will suggest themselves.
Short Rambler Roses are ideal for arches, but do check the varieties carefully as some do not repeat flower. English and Modern Climbers are also suitable, but only the taller varieties otherwise they will fail to meet at the top of the arch. Whatever rose you choose, it should have suitably lax growth so that it can be trained neatly over the arch. Try, insofar as possible, to select varieties that are well clothed with bloom almost to the ground.
A pergola can be a very attractive feature. The structure itself can be made from a variety of materials. In our Rose Garden we have used brick pillars joined by wooden poles. Stone pillars would be even better. Our long pergola starts at a point where visitors have the choice either to go down it or proceed in one of two other ways. It is interesting that they nearly always choose to go clown it. There is something about a pergola that draws one on.
Ramblers are the best roses for a pergola. They are certain to fill the structure completely and their lax growth and abundant sprays of flowers provide just the effect we need. Be careful when selecting varieties remember that they not only have to cover the arch but also join up with the next arch and this takes a lot of energy.
Unfortunately, as always, there is the problem that they flower only once in the summer. You can overcome this to some extent by working in a few repeat-flowering Climbers using a Rambler on one side and a Climber on the other but this is not always satisfactory particularly on a wide pergola.
An idea that is often put forward is to plant clematis to grow with the Ramblers. In this way the flowering period can be extended. The only trouble is that the clematis will often overwhelm the Ramblers. Roses however strong do not like any form of competition. The selection of partners should be made with great care and if the clematis threatens to overwhelm the rose, it must be removed.
Hedges and Fences
If you have a bare fence that you would like to make into something a little more decorative training Climbing or Rambling roses along it can be most effective. The stems, being at an angle or horizontal, will help to encourage more side shoots and hence more flowers. Also, being lower down, it will make them more accessible for appreciating their beautiful form and fragrance and for cutting for bringing into the house.
The English Rose climbers are probably the best as they are not too vigorous and produce their fragrant Old Rose flowers with admirable continuity. The final effect will be hard to distinguish from a hedge. We have these roses on a fence in the car park at our nursery and they never fail to attract attention.
The Ramblers can also be most effective although do be aware of their potential vigour and lack of repeat flowering. Careful selection will identify some that do repeat flower and so are particularly worthwhile. Those that do not repeat can though set a wonderful crop of hips in the autumn which may last through the winter if the birds don’t take them first. They do have the great advantage of generally being more lax in their habit than Climbers and so easier to train by simply tucking in. The more vigorous ones can be used and are particularly effective on boundaries but they can look rather wild later in the summer.
Pillars and Obelisks
Pillars and obelisks are often useful features in the garden. They can be placed at intervals in a border, thus giving it height. There arc a number of very good light structures for this purpose available from garden centers. Some are no more than I .2m/ 4ft tall, but for a border where we don’t require great height, they are ideal. For extra height in a bed of roses then they need to be taller – at least 2m/611 tall otherwise they will get lost and be of little value.
A tall pillar can be effective as an obelisk at the end of a vista or as the center point of a rose warden. Both Modern Climbers and English Rose Climbers can be used according to the height of the pillar. Many of these do not grow too tall and are ideal for the purpose especially as they repeat flower and the latter at least are very good at producing flowers more or less from the ground upwards.
The pillar may be of brick, stone or metal-work, or simply a stout timber post. Oak is ideal. Obelisks are generally made of wood and need to be reasonably substantial and fixed to the ground well otherwise they will not last very long.
Trellis work is easy to obtain through most garden centers and can be particularly useful in a small garden to divide one part from another or as a background to a border. It can be used against a building and covered with Climbers a quite ordinary or even unsightly building can be brought to life by using roses in this way. Climbers can easily be trained up trellis work by threading the long main growth in and out of its bars.
Growing Roses into Trees and over Bushes
A dramatic and most satisfactory way to grow Rambler Roses is simply to let them do what they do naturally climb up into trees and over bushes. An old apple or pear tree makes an ideal host. For a larger tree, choose a rose of rampant growth, probably of the Synstylae group . Plant the rose near to the tree and it will soon find its way up and, from there, its branches festooned with bloom will hang down, making a most magnificent sight.
I am particularly fond of ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk for this job. It has the most beautiful fruit-blossom-like flowers and if your tree is a fruit tree, you will have a second crop of flowers after the first has finished. Of course, you will get very little fruit. Other varieties include ‘Rambling Rector’ and Rosa Sipes Kiftsgate’— which are also wry vigorous or beric Barbie, ‘Francois juranville’, ‘Kew Rambler’ and ‘Francis E. Lester’. Smaller Ramblers such as The Lady of the Lake or The Albrighton Rambler will do if the rose is to climb over bushes.
Be sure that the rose is not too strong for its host, otherwise it will eventually smother the tree or shrub and perhaps kill it. On the other hand, if the tree is too strong for the rambler, it will never succeed in climbing it. It is something of a balancing act to get the two partners right. If the ground is dry and poor, which it frequently is around a tree, the rose will have to be a strong one and it will need feeding and watering in the early years. It will also require a little guidance so that it finds its way up into the tree.
THE CLIMBING ROSES
It is a remarkable fact that a genus that has been responsible for the production of so many garden shrubs shrubs which, if considered alone, would be sufficient to make it the most important of garden flowers should also provide us with what is, without doubt, the most important of all climbing plants. It is difficult to overestimate the value of Climbing Roses in the garden. They provide a feeling of abundance, particularly in more formal and architectural areas, which may be in need of softening and a sense of life. They bring height where it might otherwise be lacking and many of them flower intermittently throughout the summer. No plant can fulfill these functions better than the Climbing Rose.
All roses delight us, but perhaps a Climbing Rose, well grown and in full flower, does so more than any other, especially in the mass, although the individual flower is often particularly beautiful when seen looking down at us from the branch of a Climbing Rose. Perhaps it is the association of plant and architecture that gives Climbing Roses a certain advantage.
Before going further, it is necessary to explain that the Climbing Roses are divided into two main groups: the Climbers and the Ramblers. The division is an artificial one, for both are in reality climbing plants, but this division does help us deal with them more easily. A Climbing Rose usually has larger flowers such as we might find in the Old Roses or the Hybrid Teas.
The Rambler Roses usually have smaller flowers in larger clusters, and are often of more lax growth. They are also inclined to send up long, sometimes very long, stems from the base of the plant. In fact, they do just what their name suggests: ramble. The Climbers may be stiffer in growth, and although they, too, produce strong base shoots, they tend to build up gradually on past growth. Most Climbing Roses are repeat flowering while most Ramblers are not, although an increasing number of very good repeat flowering Ramblers are now being introduced.
This is a very arbitrary division, one type frequently overlapping with the other, but in spite of this, when we see these roses there is generally little doubt as to which spite of this, when we see these roses there is generally little doubt as to which group they belong.
Over the following pages we examine the various types of Climbing Roses the Noisettes with their delicate refinement the Climbing Tea Roses the Climbing Hybrid Teas with their flowers of many colours the Modern Climbers with their continuous abundance the Climbing English Roses with their delicate charm and fragrance as well as other sorts of other classifications or none, which are often of great beauty.
The best and most frequent use for Climbers is on walls, including house walls where, with the additional warmth that these provide, they are often the earliest garden roses to flower, thus making them particularly precious and giving them plenty of time to make further growth and so flower again. In addition, no climbing plant is more suitable for growing over arches, on pillars, on trellises, pergolas and so on.
Annual tying and pruning is, of course, necessary with Climbers, and this can be a little more arduous than is the case with shrubs, but really need not be too great a task. See the chapter on Cultivation and Pruning for specific advice.
Even before the China Rose was hybridized with various Old Roses to produce the first European recurrent-flowering roses, it was cross fertilized with the Musk Rose to give us the first repeat-flowering Climbing Roses. This is rather surprising, for it has never been easy to breed such Climbers. Credit for this innovation goes to John Champney, a rice planter of Charleston in South Carolina in the early 1800s. Champney produced a rose which was first named Rosa moschata hybrida, but later became known as tharnpney’s Pink Cluster’. It is sometimes said he obtained this rose by crossing the then new ‘Parsons’ Pink China’ (now Rosa x odorata Tallida’) with pollen from the Musk Rose, but it is more likely it was an accidental hybrid, as the deliberate cross fertilization of roses was not practised at that time.
Philippe Noisette, a nurseryman, also of Charleston, sowed seed from thampney’s Pink Cluster’ to produce a variety known as ‘Blush Noisette’ (now Rosa Noisette Carnee’) which, although not so tall in growth as its parents, was repeat flowering. Thus it was that the Noisettes were born. ‘Blush Noisette’ was later crossed with ‘Parks’ Yellow China’ (now Rosa x odorata `Ochroleuca), to give
us yellow Noisettes. Noisettes were also freely crossed with the Ma Rose, further widening their range and improving their quality—and the Noisette Roses are, even today, some of the most beautiful of all Climbing Roses. These qualities they frequently combine with tall, lax, rampant growth—something breeders still find very hard to achieve. In addition, the colour yellow was added to the repertoire of garden roses—and we are short enough of yellows among Climbing Roses, even today.
The period of development of Noisettes was brief, and one cannot help feeling that there is a job not yet completed and with very considerable possibilities for further progress. Once again, as with the Rugosas and the Hybrid Musks, the problem is that Noisettes are diploids and this tends to make further development difficult, most roses being tetraploid.
The Noisettes as a class have a refinement and delicacy that is hard to equal elsewhere. The flowers are in the true Old Rose tradition. They are of a rosette formation with petals of a lovely silky texture, and nearly all have a good fragrance. The winter hardiness of some of the Noisettes is, unfortunately, a little questionable, but this should not prevent us from growing them in anything but the coldest positions. Given the protection of a warm wall, they will be perfectly safe. The majority are, in fact, quite hardy.
Various Old Climbers
There are a number of old Climbing Roses that do not fit comfortably into the categories I use here. These are usually by-products of the repeat-flowering Old Roses, or sometimes crosses that have been made with Species Roses. They include some very beautiful and as one might expect highly individual varieties.
Belle Portugaise (`Belle of Portugal’) (Tea) A cross between Rosa Agantea and the early Climbing Hybrid Tea `Reine Marie Henriette’. R. gigantea is the largest-flowered of all Climbing Species and is one of the main ancestors of our modern roses. It was, therefore, obviously a good idea to back-cross some of our modern roses to this species. Unfortunately such hybrids are not hardy in the UK, though this variety, and one or two others, will survive most winters in warmer areas if given a protected position, when ‘Belle Portugaise’ may be expected to grow to 6m / 20ft. It has long, silky, pointed buds that hang their heads in the most elegant and pleasing manner. Their colour is a pale salmon-pink and their petals are beautifully scrolled, eventually opening to rather loose flowers which appear in mid-June only, but in some abundance. It has fine, long, pointed, grey-green, drooping foliage. Strong Ma Rose fragrance. Raised at the Botanic Gardens, Lisbon, 1903.
Blairi Number Two (Blairi No. 2) Were it not for the fact that this Bourbon Rose does not repeat flower and has a tendency to mildew, I would be inclined to regard it as one of my favorite Climbers. The flowers are the very personification of an Old Rose at its best. They are cupped in shape, full of petals, pale pink at the edges and deepening towards the center. The growth is rather lax, perhaps 3.5-4.5m /12-15ft in height, with the blooms borne elegantly on the branch. The young shoots are mahogany coloured, and the mature leaves rough textured and matt green. The whole plant makes a most charming picture. Raised by a Mr Blair of Stamford Hill in 1845, it is said that the parents are Rosa chinensis (now it x odorata) x ‘Tuscany’. There is also a Blairi No. 1, which is wry similar, but the flowers are less fine and I think there is little point in growing them both, although the colour of the latter is a more even pink. I have only seen ‘Blain No. 1’ growing at Hidcote Manor in Gloucestershire.
The Climbing Tea & Hybrid Tea Roses
I include the Climbing Tea Roses and the Climbing Hybrid Teas in one group, as most of the Tea Roses have at least a little Hybrid Tea in their make-up and their appearance is, for the most part, very much the same.
few of these roses were purposely bred, perhaps because it is not an easy thing to do, or because it was thought to be much less profitable than the breeding of bush roses. In spite of this there are innumerable varieties of these roses to choose from. The explanation for this apparent anomaly lies in the fact that both bush Hybrid Tea and Tea Roses have proved very prolific in the production of climbing sports, and this is what most of them are. They form an important contribution to our stock of Climbing Roses, not least because they extend the colour range considerably.
Anyone whose preferences lie with the Old Rose, or perhaps has some prejudice against Modern Roses, should think again in the case of the Climbing Tea Roses and Climbing Hybrid Teas, for even those bearing flowers which may look rather ordinary on a short bush often have greater appeal when seen from the branches of their climbing form. This illustrates better than anything else the advantage a shrub rose has over a bush rose, or, likewise, a Climbing Rose over a bush that is to say, the advantage of scale the balance between the size of the flower and the growth of the plant.
There can be little doubt that, in general, the older Climbing Tea Roses and Climbing Hybrid Teas make better climbing sports than those of more recent introduction. The early varieties were rather weak in growth, but it is an odd fact that such roses often produce strong climbing forms. They also have the advantage that they often inherit the more lax and elegant growth of their parent so that the flowers, instead of looking up towards the sky, look down on us for our appreciation. They have a further advantage in that they tend to be more gentle in colour, substance and general appearance. Fortunately it is the Tea Roses and the earlier Hybrid Tea Roses that have produced the most Climbers. This may be because they were the result of rather distant crosses and had not settled down genetically. The contemporary Hybrid Tea bushes are of much stronger growth, with the result that their climbing sports have a tendency to make growth and foliage at the expense of bloom and, more often than not, their flowers stand up like ramrods.
The climbing forms of the early rfea Roses and Hybrid ‘leas Roses may then be said to be good Climbers, growing strongly and often repeating well. In fact, if the early varieties are to be preserved, it is perhaps as Climbers that this is best done.
Allen Chandler (Hybrid Tea) A vigorous Climbing Rose bearing very large semi-double flowers of brilliant crimson, opening to show contrasting yellow stamens. It blooms very freely early in the season and regularly thereafter Good red Climbing Roses are rather scarce and this is one of the best of them. It will grow to about 4.5m /15ft, sometimes much more, is fragrant and has ample large foliage. A cross between ‘Hugh Dickson’ and an unnamed seedling Bred by Chandler (USA) 1923.
Climbing and Rambler Rose Cultivation
When I am asked for my opinion on the cultivation of roses, I usually start by saying that this need not be arduous. If you do no more than work the soil to a reasonable result, add some organic matter and then plant your roses, firming them in gently, you can be sure of reasonable results. If you then prune them each year, you will have good results every year. How good these will be depends, in some degree, on the soil being of at least average quality. Having said this, if you are prepared to do a little more work, this will not only give you much better results, but also a great deal more satisfaction. The following notes are intended for those who wish to make the most of their roses.
Before I go further, I should say that my advice is for gardeners in the British Isles and other temperate regions in the northern hemisphere. Gardeners in other climates will need to consult books on rose growing in their area although in practice very little will vary.
Most ancestors of the garden rose are natives of more fertile areas of the world and it is worth giving them a prime position. However, even the poorest soils can be made suitable by adding generous quantities of well-rotted organic matter.
Roses will not thrive in a position where there is too much shade so avoid any area that has overhanging trees. South, West and East-facing sites are entirely satisfactory. North-facing sites can be difficult although there are a number of varieties (notably the English Roses) that can cope well with this. Indeed in hotter dilates protection from the ravages of the hot midday and afternoon sun can be very advantageous. The problem is not only a question of shade roses generally do not like competition from the roots of trees and shrubs, the exception to this being the stronger rambler roses.
Then there is the question of rose re-plant disease if a rose is planted in soil where roses have recently been growing before, they seldom thrive, even when the removed roses have been doing well. The simple answer to this is to move on and plant in fresh ground although unfortunately this is not always possible. The choice in such cases is to either replace the soil with good quality new soil from a different area before planting the new ones or to treat the soil where they have been growing with ample quantities of well-rotted organic matter and Mycorrhizal Fungi.
Preparing the Soil
It is advisable to prepare the soil thoroughly before you plant. Each planting hole should be dug to a depth of at least 50cm / 18in. Loosen up the bottom of the planting hole and mix in some organic matter to enable and encourage the long tap roots to go down deeply. The top 30cm / 12in should have a liberal quantity of well-rotted organic matter incorporated.
Planting of bare-rooted roses can be done at any time from autumn to late spring (early November to the end of April in the UK). It is crucial that the roots are never allowed to dry out at any time and it is a good idea to soak the roots for a few hours or overnight immediately prior to planting. If you purchase container-grown roses, these can be planted at any time of year. Immediately before planting they should be soaked in a bucket of water for about an hour and then allowed to drain. During the first summer they will need generous watering to ensure success. In both cases the bud union should be about 5cm /2″ below ground level. Applying Mycorrhizal Fungi at planting time can be very beneficial especially when planting close to trees where there is likely to be competition from their roots. In my opinion, bare-rooted roses are marginally superior to those grown in pots but in any case, after a year or two, there is unlikely to be any difference and of course by planting a containerized plant you are gaining a season.
People are often baffled by the whole question of pruning This is usually because they think it is more difficult than it really is. I believe it is as much an art as a craft. A lot depends on the end you wish to achieve. In the UK and elsewhere with relatively mild winters, pruning may be carried out at any time between the beginning of December and the end of February. Earlier pruning may well encourage soft young shoots that will be more susceptible to frost
damage while later pruning will mean that many of the new shoots will be cut off resulting in slightly later flowering and a waste of the plant’s energy. I prefer earlier pruning (le December/January) which is important for the repeat flowering varieties, as they then get an earlier start, ensuring a longer season of flowering. In regions with cold winters, I would suggest it is better to delay pruning until spring growth is just starting.
Repeat-flowering Climbing Roses of all kinds should have the side shoots that have borne the flowers in the previous season, shortened to about 8 or 10cm /3 or 4in. The main long growth is retained to bear further flowering growth for the coming seasons. They need to be tied into position to prevent them getting broken, the closer they are to horizontal the more side shoots and hence flowers will be produced. When these become old and unproductive, they can be removed altogether to make way for further growth. Exactly when this will be depends on how well the rose is doing as a whole and whether growth can be spared, although it is of little use to keep old growth beyond a certain point.
Pruning Rambler Roses will very much depend on where they are being grown. If into a tree or over a garage or outhouse very little is needed and indeed is possible and in this way we can achieve a natural, billowing effect, which often results in a beautiful display. If, however, you want something more neat and trim, as for example when the Ramblers are trained on an arc pergola, you should prune them the same as Climbing Roses taking main shoots as you can spare and cut back the side shoots to about 8 or 10 or 4in. As with the climbers, training the main stems at an angle or houri will encourage more side shoots and hence more flowers when grown as this can be achieved by spiraling the stems around the support.
Most roses are grown on root stocks and from time to time these may send up their own shoots which are generally known as ‘suckers’. It is vital that these should be removed as soon as possible otherwise they will soon take over the whole plant. Ideally they should cut out at source which means digging down to its origin from the root. If they are simply cut off at ground level they will quickly grow back.
Having completed the pruning of our roses, it is now necessary to consider the question of maintenance. By pruning time the soil will have become rather compacted and a light pricking over of the soil with a fork to a depth of about 5cm /2in will help to aerate it and will give a chance to remove any weeds that may have appeared. As roses are hungry feeders they should be fed in March or April and, if repeat flowering, again in June. This done, it is a good idea to mulch them with an 8-10cm /3-4in layer of rotted compost or farmyard manure. This is not essential, but there is nothing better you can do in order to provide a good show of blooms in the coming summer. It will keep the soil cool and retain moisture—and at the same time help life in the soil and provide an additional source of nutrition.
During the summer, dead-heading will be necessary on the repeat flowering varieties to help encourage quick repeating. However some repeat flowering varieties can produce beautiful hips in which case it might be an idea to leave a few of the dead flowers to develop as leaving all will have a negative effect on the numbers of blooms produced later. If a rose does produce ornamental hips then obviously the dead flowers should be left.
Watering is not essential in the British climate, but soil at the foot of walls and near trees can often be dry and occasional deep soakings will help with quicker establishment and stronger growth especially in the first two or three years. Regular watering can also help to ensure better quality of flowers and continuity of flowering Dryness at the roots is often the cause of powdery mildew.
Diseases and Pests
Susceptibility to diseases is hugely variable, some varieties are effectively completely resistant while others are very susceptible so, unless you are willing to spray, it is important to choose varieties that are as naturally resistant to disease as possible. Ramblers are on the whole healthier than climbers but there are many exceptions that prove the rule. If you do have an existing rose that is regularly suffering then much can be done by pruning, feeding, watering and generally improving the growing conditions. Foliar feeds can also be most effective. Two or three applications of fungicides during the growing season will be very effective in controlling disease. There are four main diseases of roses.