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 will vary depending on the rose type, local climate, fertility and moisture and the way you prune.
Select a site with at least four to six 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.
If you have the space, English 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 24 inches apart within the group. Adjacent plants of neighboring varieties should be planted approximately 3 feet away. For hedges, plant fairly close together approximately 24 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 strong growth.
Planting & Mulching
When planted, the base of the canes (bud union) should be about 2 inches below ground level in our area. Water in well and mound the base of the canes with about 2 inches of compost, soil or bark chippings until the plants leaf out. Mulching with organic matter 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. Add organic matter to planting hole and mulch with 2” of enriching mulch or 2” of Sweet Peet.
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.
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. Good air circulation is essential and watering during the day is recommended so the foliage is dry at night. Depending on which varieties you grow, some spraying may be beneficial especially early in the growing season. If your rose bush has a pest or disease problem, we can help you choose the best treatment.
Summer-Pruning Your Roses
The nature of modern roses is to repeat flower through the season, with each flowering creating an even taller shrub. To encourage repeat blooming, make sure you summer prune after each flush of flowering as opposed to simply deadheading. The aim is to improve repeat flowering and to maintain the overall shape of the plant.
After each flush of flowers has finished, cut back the flowering stems to the first five leaf cluster. You may also notice that the occasional new long, strong stem will appear from the base of the shrub, or sometimes grows higher up from older branches. These can grow quickly above the frame of the plant and look a little out of place at first. These stems are in fact very beneficial, forming strong, healthy new stems which will flower next season. We recommend that you trim these new stems back slightly when carrying out summer pruning, just enough to maintain the nicely rounded shape of the shrub.
Repeat flowering climbers and bush roses (hybrid teas and floribundas) will also benefit from pruning after each flowering. Once flowering climbers and shrub roses do not need summer pruning, dead heading is sufficient.
credit: Trina Lorigan & John Pelrine (Pemberton Farms) and www.davidaustinroses.com. Edited by T. Lorigan