Roses are easy to grow and remarkably tolerant. It
is only necessary to get a few basic points right
and you will have good results. However they can respond
well to some extra care and attention by being more
floriferous and healthy. The following is intended
to help you to make the right selection and give you
a brief guide to planting and looking after your roses.
Choosing a Variety
Your choice of rose is very personal. Make sure that
the dimensions of the rose suit its position, be aware
that the size referred to in the website will vary
depending on the soil type, local climate, fertility
and moisture and the way you prune your roses.
Select a site with at least a few hours of sun each
day where the roots of the rose will not be in competition
with the roots of other plants, especially trees.
The exception to this rule is the ramblers which grow
well near to trees. In warmer areas some shade from
the ravages of the afternoon sun can be highly beneficial.
If you have the space Roses, Old Roses and other Shrub
Roses look superb planted in tight groups of three
of one variety. They will then grow together to form
one dense shrub, which will provide a more continuous
display and make a more definite statement in the
border. We suggest planting approximately 18 inches
apart within the group. Adjacent plants of neighboring
varieties should be planted approximately 3 feet away.
For hedges, plant fairly close together approximately
18 inches apart for maximum effect.
Roses will grow in a wide range of soils, but whatever
type they do appreciate good soil preparation. The
addition of a generous quantity of well rotted manure
or garden compost before planting will help to ensure
On arrival, plant as soon as possible. If they are
unpacked but not planted ensure that they are soaked
and wrapped back up securely. Never allow the roots
to dry out at any time prior to and during planting.
Before planting soak the whole plant in water overnight.
When planted, the base of the canes (bud union) should
be about 4 inches below ground level in cold winter
areas and at ground level in mild winter areas. Water
in well and mound the base of the canes with about
6 inches of compost, soil or bark chippings until
the plants leaf out. We recommend the use of Root
grow at planting time.
Regular watering is essential, the rose will be stronger,
healthier and, most importantly, produce more flowers.
Depending on your climate and the time of year it
is recommended that deep watering should be done at
least once a week and often more frequently.
Roses, especially the repeat flowering varieties,
need a generous supply of nutrients regularly through
the growing season although this should not be applied
too close to the onset of winter. Slow release or
organic fertilizers applied to the ground are the
most effective; however foliar feeds are also valuable
for a quick effect and to help keep the leaves healthy.
Mulching with organic matter (a very wide range is
available) is a very important part of rose growing,
helping to conserve water, keeping the ground cool
and feeding the microorganisms and worms in the soil.
It should preferably be well rotted and, if it starts
to disappear during the season, be reapplied.
Growing in pots and containers
Roses look excellent grown in pots but be sure to
choose varieties that are not too vigorous and select
a pot that is as large as is practicable. The compost
can dry out very quickly so do check they have sufficient
moisture every day. Potting compost has limited nutrient
content therefore feed regularly. In cold winter areas
protect the rose well.
The best way to keep your plants free from pests and
diseases is to choose disease resistant varieties
and to grow them as well as possible. Depending on
which region you are in and the varieties you grow,
some spraying may be beneficial especially early in
the growing season. As there are different chemicals
and different laws in many of the states, it is best
to seek local advice from your garden center, nursery
or local rose society.
How to prune your roses
I offer as brief a synopsis as possible. Pruning
should be done in the late fall or early spring. Take
care not to cut too close to a bud; about a quarter
of an inch above an outward facing bud, cutting down
and away from the bud on a 45 degree angle. Too far
above the bud allows dead tissue to develop disease;
too close and there won¡¯t be enough stem
to support the bud.
Now that you know how to prune, you need to know
when. Generally we should prune Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras,
and Floribundas in very early spring. A good rule
of thumb is to do it when the forsythia is in bloom.
The first task is to eliminate suckers that have started
below the soil. Most roses today are grafted onto
rootstock that won¡¯t look anything like
the rose you want.
Then we need to eliminate dead wood. Cut gradually
back along the cane until you hit white healthy pith.
Next we want to select three or four canes that will
form the frame of the plant. Cut everything else off
entirely. Now cut those canes back to between 6 and
12 inches. If the rose is healthy and in fertile soil,
then leaving canes around a foot long should develop
a good plant. If the plant has been neglected and
gotten leggy, or if you are planting a new rose, then
cutting back to the six-inch mark should encourage
strong new canes from the base.
Never hard prune Floribundas as they don¡¯t
break well from old wood. Climbers should have their
laterals cut back to three or four eyes and any new
canes breaking from the base should be eliminated
(unless you want to develop a new cane). Species roses
(and most shrubs) should be tip pruned each fall.
This will encourage new growth from the base. In the
spring cut out the laterals and the old canes, leaving
the new canes from the previous year (the ones that
didn¡¯t flower). Always cut dead or diseased
wood and always use some judgment. If a plant doesn¡¯t
appear vigorous then pruning it to a nub probably
won¡¯t help it much. Use discretion.
Certain types of standard roses or pillars require
special techniques. As always the dead wood must go,
along with any weak or crossed branches. The rest
should be cut back to six eyes or so and half that
on laterals. On pillar grown roses you should grow
the plant up on support. Cut back all the laterals
and select canes evenly around the pillar. When the
pillar is established cut out all old wood and select
the previous year¡¯s canes.
Feeding and Care
Roses are hungry feeders. You should fertilize with
a food that is a little heavier on the phosphorus
(middle number in the three). Improving the soil is
recommended to increase the water and fertilizer retention.
While species and shrub roses will make do with most
any soil, Hybrid Teas need a highly fertile and organic
soil to do well at all. Manure, mushroom compost,
or any other highly organic additives are a necessity
for a good Hybrid Tea rose. A good organic mulch will
go a long way towards improving the soil fertility
from year to year, as well as increasing water retention.
DO NOT use wood chips or a poorly composted bark product.
These require nitrogen to decompose and will rob your
rose of nutrients.
If you have been looking for a reason to start a compost
pile, there is no better reason than mulching. Compost
will actually add nutrients to the soil along with
beneficial microbes. A quick scratch with a hoe will
easily eliminate any weeds and keep the soil loose
and fluffy. Roses detest any sort of competition so
do not fall prey to the temptation of planting closely
around roses. Dusting with rose powder is recommended
for tea roses to keep off black spot and powdery mildew.
These can be fatal diseases for your average Hybrid
Tea rose, although not a big problem for your shrub
and species roses. Many of the newer roses are bred
specifically for disease resistance.