The American Rose Society recognizes three distinct groups of climbing types of roses – Ramblers, Climbers and Species. Species are those roses which, if self pollinated, will breed true to seed, most are spring bloomers. Examples are the Lady Banks roses, Fortuniana, and Cherokee Rose.
There is a lot written about the differences between Ramblers and Climbers, kind of like “all toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads”. The following explanation is one I tend to prefer:
What Is the Difference in a Rambling Rose & a Climbing Rose?
The rose family (Rosaceae species) consists of many different types of shrubs, climbers and hybrids with over 14,000 varieties. Roses may be evergreen in warmer climates and their stems vary and may be arching, trailing or erect. Climbing roses are popular in many landscapes; however, these are not true vines that attach and grow, but rather need support and training to grow up trellises or pergolas. Two common types of trailing roses are climbing roses and rambling roses, both with their own unique characteristics
Unlike other climbing roses, rambling roses only bloom once per season and produce small, fragrant clusters of roses, usually in June or July. The flowers provide the garden with a magnificent display that makes them an excellent addition to the landscape. Regular climbers and shrub roses generally bloom longer and produce larger, non-clustered blooms from June through October. Ramblers, unlike other roses, do not require deadheading and produce rose hips after flowering.
The leaves of a rambling rose differ from other type of climbing roses. The ramblers have groups of seven leaves and climbers have leaves in groups of five. Climbing and rambling roses are not twining vines, since they grow long canes instead that must be trained. Ramblers differ in this area too; they produce long canes that are more pliable than other climbing roses, which often grow stiffer canes.
Vigor and Growth
Ramblers are easy to grow and more vigorous than other types of roses. Their pliable canes allow them to grow horizontally and vertically, unlike the other stiff-caned climbers that only grow upward. Their rapid growth, with shoots growing 12 to 14 feet a year, and pliable canes make them ideal plants for covering pergolas, trellises and arches.
Ramblers and climbing roses require different pruning methods. Ramblers produce flowers on second year wood, which means pruning is done to shape the plant and not stimulate growth. Other types of climbing roses require pruning to encourage repeat flowering, because flowers are produced on new season growth. When pruning ramblers, cut away old shoots and branches that have already borne flowers, and leave the new shoots. For all types of roses, cut away any damaged or diseased branches when noticed.
As a final note on this post, when I was growing up we had all kinds of roses growing on the walls of our two story house – our chickens loved to eat red rose petals, but would not touch pink, white or yellow!!!