How to Grow Roses

A rose covered arch evokes the classic ‘English Country Garden’ more than anything else and it’s easy to achieve – whether you’re growing on an Arch, Pergola, Gazebo or Screen, these tips will help you fill your garden with scent and colour this summer.

How to Choose Your Rose

Whether you plant with bare roots in the winter or potted later in the year they will establish quickly and be ready to give a spectacular display in the first year.

Depending on the size of your structure you will need to choose between a rambler or a climbing variety. Ramblers have a looser and more vigorous habit and although they only flower for about four weeks, grow quickly and create a mass of flowers. Climbers repeat-flower from early May throughout the summer. They grow more slowly but may be easier to manage on a smaller arch or bower.

Remember to think about maximising scent as well as colour and Zéphirine Drouhin, Mme. Alfred Carrière and Cecile Brunner are examples of almost thorn free varieties, which may be worth considering if you are planting in a high traffic or seating area.

Once you’ve chosen, buy two plants – one to go either side for the best results.

Select a plant with healthy looking, green canes that have at least three strong, thick stems growing outwards from the rootstock. Look for a well-developed root system with several long, tapering main roots, and many smaller, hair-like roots.

How to Plant Roses 

  • Give your plant a good drink prior to planting – a couple of hours in a bucket of water will be fine.
  • Dig a generous hole that’s wider and deeper than the span of the roots, but no more than twice the overall size.
  • Mix well-rotted horse manure or compost into the soil you’ve removed from the planting - Roses need a soil that drains well but holds onto moisture long enough for the roots to absorb it.
  • Plant the rose with the bulbous ‘bud union’ where the stems 5cm below soil level.
  • Firm the soil well and thoroughly soak the plant after planting.

How to Care For Roses

  • Keep your rose well-watered in dry conditions, especially in the first year after planting. A really thorough watering once or twice a week is more effective than little and often.
  • Apply a thick mulch of bark or leaf mould to the soil in damp conditions each spring - This helps prevent surface weeds and helps the soil retain moisture.
  • Feed each rose bush with a granular rose fertiliser or a general fertiliser such mid March and again once the first flush of flowers has faded.
  • Tie your rose in to your structure to create a pleasing shape and prevent damage in heavy wind and rain.

How to Prune Roses

  • In autumn, prune back any long stems by one third to prevent the roots being damaged by ‘rocking’ in strong wind.
  • In late winter, cut out any diseased or dead wood or crossing stems.
  • Prune climbers and ramblers ‘hard’ back to 3-5 buds from the base in their first year after planting.
  • Then in subsequent years, for climbers, tie in the main shoots, bending them horizontally. Prune side shoots that grow from the main shoots back to two buds from the base.
  • For ramblers, allow to ramble wherever they choose and just prune them after flowering to maintain the required size.

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