Tips on how to best grow roses in your garden
- Credit: location credit: The Old Rectory
With their rich variety of colours and heady scent, roses are a quintessential part of any English garden
Now that venues such as RHS Wisley and the National Trust’s Polesden Lacey have re-opened, we can once again go and appreciate fabulous rose gardens in all their splendour. And, if you want to enjoy roses at home in your own garden, now is a great time to research the roses you love and will suit your conditions.
Then order some bare-root plants - the most economical choice - for delivery between November and March as they are traditionally planted in autumn and late winter, to the beginning of spring.
Traditionally thought of as best suited to formal gardens, roses are one of the most versatile plants for any setting. With their wide spectrum of colours, sizes and growth habits they can be grown in dedicated beds, amongst a jostle of other plants in borders, draped over arches and walls, used as groundcover or varieties selected for containers.
Bare-root roses are generally the best quality and should be planted out as soon as you receive them. Container-grown roses can be bought and planted at any time of the year.
To make the most of roses in your garden, here are some top tips from Surrey Life garden editor Leigh Clapp and RHS chief horticulturalist Guy Barter.
- Bare-root roses are generally the best quality and should be planted out as soon as you receive them. Container-grown roses can be bought and planted at any time of the year.
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- Roses will grow in most soils, as long as they are well-drained and you incorporate some well-rotted compost or manure before planting.
- Generally they prefer sun but some grow in shade, and most roses are fully hardy.
- Water well until established and roses like generous feeding in spring followed by mulching with organic matter to retain moisture and suppress weeds – but not close to the stems.
- Deadhead flowers unless they produce rose hips and for pruning take a look at the RHS website as it has the steps for different types of roses. It may sound obvious, but the most important thing in pruning roses is that your secateurs must be sharp so they won’t tear or harm the plant.
- In general, early February is the time to prune established roses, climbing roses after flowering and a mid-summer tidy up will help reinvigorate tired roses and encourage a second flush in autumn with repeat bloomers.
- Diseases disfigure roses but seldom kill them – blackspot is the worst, especially in wet weather, and can be suppressed by garden fungicides or for gardeners who prefer not to use fungicides, plant tonics such as Sulphur Rose or Uncle Toms Rose Tonic may be beneficial.
- Pests such as sawfly are best just picked off but if greenfly multiply use a contact control such as SB Plant Invigorator or fatty acid (soap) based insecticides that will reduce them and leave no residues while sparing other useful insects
- Tie in climbing roses if required. We like to use vertical wires – they look smarter than horizontal ones, but of course stems are best trained reasonably horizontal to encourage more flowering shoots.
- Only newly-planted roses need watering, established ones will soldier on through dry spells and seem quite unfazed no doubt due to their extensive root system.
- Remember that roses are shallow but widely rooted and weed control by hoeing should also be very shallow. If time permits, consider adding a weed-suppressing mulch of garden compost or ideally well-rotted manure. Do this after a rainstorm if you can. If drought sets in, wait until next February.