Rose Care – Planting, Growing, Feeding and Pruning All Types of Rose
From patio plants and small rose bushes to climbers, these colourful flowering shrubs are hugely popular garden plants. With a little care they give a stunning display.
Roses are probably the most popular of all garden plants. A huge variety of different types are available; miniature and patio roses barely a foot high, small rose bushes and standard roses for a formal garden, large arching shrubs for the mixed border,and climbing roses, some of which grow over 30 feet in height to scramble over a garden trellis or pergola or cover a wall. They appear in almost every colour: red, pink white, yellow orange, purple and even blue, and many are sweetly fragrant.
They’re generally easy to grow, and many varieties are disease resistant. To give the best results, care is needed in the initial selection and planting of roses, and they will reward regular feeding, and in most varieties pruning, thereafter.
It’s always worth paying a little extra for a good, healthy rose from a reputable grower or supplier. Roses which have had a bad start won’t thrive.
Roses are traditionally planted as bare root plants in the autumn, but pot grown roses may be planted at any time of year. In either case when buying:
Look for plants with at least 3 strong shoots emerging from the rootstock, with fresh, healthy wood.
New buds should be tight and plump. Avoid plants with long yellowing shoots which have been lifted too long, or badly stored.
With bare root roses, ensure that the root ball is never allowed to dry out, and prepare the ground in advance so that they can be planted without delay.
If buying pot grown plants in leaf, make sure that they aren’t pot bound, and look for fresh healthy, bright green leaf growth.
Avoid plants with veined, yellowing leaves, or those showing significant signs of mildew, rust or blackspot (it may be impossible to find plants which are entirely disease free in the more disease prone varieties).
Some varieties will grow on a north wall, but for all others choose a site with plenty of sun, and sheltered from strong winds.
Dig a planting hole 4-6 inches larger all round than the pot or root ball, and enrich the soil and planting mix with compost and bone meal.
Plant at least 18 inches away from any wall to avoid any dry zone.
Cut bush and shrub roses back to two – four healthy buds on each shoot, cutting weak growth hardest, using a diagonal cut just above an outward facing bud. Don’t prune climbing roses at this stage.
When planting set the budding union, or swelling at the base of the stem, an inch below the soil surface, even if it was above the surface in the pot.
With bare root roses, spread the roots out well in the planting hole. before firming the planting mix around the plant and roots.
Top dress with a proprietary granular rose feed and water well to settle the soil around the roots.
Stake or support if necessary, especially with a tall bush or standard, to prevent root disturbance.
Keep the soil moist in dry weather until established, but don’t overwater. An occasional thorough watering is better than a daily sprinkle, which will merely bring the roots to the surface.
All roses benefit from a top dressing with a granular rose fertilizer in early spring. Rake gently into the soil, taking care not to damage the roots, which can stimulate suckers. A mulch at this stage is also beneficial.
A second feeding in late June or July, when the first flush of flower dies down, will help to produce a good second flush in many varieties, but don’t feed in autumn as this will encourage weak and vulnerable fresh growth in the winter.
Protecting Roses Against Garden Pests and Diseases
The main disease affecting roses are blackspot, mildew and rust. They are also subject to insect attack, principally by aphids.
However, many roses are now bred with disease resistance as a priority. Rugosas, Species Roses and many Old Garden Roses are largely unaffected.
The main protection is to keep the plant healthy and well fed, trimming out any dead wood.
Spray with Roseclear or an equivalent organic solution at the first sign of attack. Many gardeners also give a precautionary treatment before the buds first break in spring.
Pruning roses is not nearly as complicated as many gardeners believe; Species, Old Garden Roses and the more vigorous climbers need only to be kept tidy, and Modern Shrub Roses and Rugosas should be cut back by about a third in spring.
Hybrid Teas and Floribundas need to be cut back quite hard each spring to give their best.
Remove any suckers (strong shoots thrown up by the rootstock) from grafted roses as soon as they appear, by tearing them off from the root, not cutting, at the poin of origin.