Roses are ideal plants to embellish a facade! Besides their beautiful dark green foliage, they bring magnificent flowers and present no risk of structural damage. The selection is by no means limited to the so-called "climbing roses," -- an arbitrary assortment of rose cultivars with long shoots which allow them to climb on pergolas and rose arches; this doesn't necessarily mean that they are a good choice for walls. Historical "climbing roses" are often susceptible to disease on walls, while modern shrub or ground cover roses may be fine. Roses with large stems can be planted as shrubs/bushes without any wall trellis.
Climbing rose - latin: Rosa
Roses are fragile and often prone to disease. Many historical cultivars bred in the industrial age fail today because of poor air quality (lacks sulfur oxide which the roses need). On hot facades this problem is intensified and then it may be necessary to treat with sulphur. Select a robust cultivar if possible-- for example, something from the ADR roses. There are hardly any new climbing rose cultivars, so it may be necessary to choose one of the more resistant small shrub roses or a ground-cover rose. Many wholesalers sell their products under invented and colourful names as a marketing practice, so it is recommended to shop directly from rose nurseries to guarantee the quality. The use of false picture labels is also not uncommon.
The roses should be planted in a sunny location, but some varieties (especially those that are susceptible to mildew) may suffer from hot south-facing walls. Partially shaded locations may also be considered. The soil should be sandy and loamy, deep, not too moist and also not dry, with some humus but not too nutrient-rich. Fertilise with potassium (potash) or wood ash until early in the summer. Distance between roses: 1.5 - 4 metres.
Roses are ramblers: they grab onto branches or wires with their thorns to grow higher. Some cultivars tend to 'bald' (lose their leaves) at the base. Height of growth depends on the cultivar-- between 2 and 15 metres. The leaves persist from May to October, with some cultivars keeping their leaves well into March. The flowers open at the extremities of green shoots and come in many colours: yellow, white, pink, apricot to dark red. Some cultivars flower only once, some twice, and some for several months. Often produces green or red rosehip fruits.
The framework can be shaped depending on the growth habit of the particular rose. Generally speaking, the horizontal shoots will produce more flower buds and flower better in the following years. Cutting the older flowers stimulates the development of new flowers and can extend the flowering period. On smaller trellises, the rose can be cut down almost to the ground in winter. When cutting a shoot, always leave a small stub.
Stakes, trellis grids, nets, or wire rope systems can be used for roses. The table at the bottom of the page lists compatible designs. Choose a wire rope trellis in the medium range, maybe even in the easy or light ranges for some, and a heavy or massive trellis for the more fragile cultivars or for larger projects.
Roses are not twiners... rather they 'climb' by catching branches of other plants with their thorns; for this reason, they won't grow very high without a trellis / proper climbing support to 'pull' them up. A horizontal training of the shoots is also a good, or even better, idea (see last 4 photos).