Beginner's Guide to Rose Care
COMPILED BY THE COUNTRY GARDEN PLANT CENTRE
Many books have been written on rose care over the years, but for the novice rose grower who just want a few roses in their garden, most of the books are too technical and heavy going. We have tried here to make our advice as simple as possible in the hope that you can enjoy your rose growing without getting bogged down in too many technicalities and too much hard work, after all growing roses should be a pleasure and not a headache.
CHOOSING THE SITENearly all roses thrive in sun so pick your spot carefully. Roses do not like too much shade so never plant under trees. This will lead to root dryness, too much shade, plus toxic drip from the leaf canopy. If possible pick a spot with a bit of shelter from the cold winds. Roses do not like getting their feet too wet so plant in an area that has reasonable drainage. Most roses will not thrive in poor soil so if necessary improve the soil with well rotted farm or horse manure.
BARE ROOT ROSES
Give your bare root roses a good soak before planting as they may have dried out, especially if you have bought them mail order and they have been in transit for a few days. Dig the plant hole deep and wide enough to accommodate all the roots which should be spread out as much as possible. Add some bone meal and compost to the hole and back fill the hole carefully, gently shaking the plant to ensure good contact between the roots and the soil. The depth that the rose should be planted is controversial, but we have never had any problem planting roses either with the bud union planted level with soil or below soil level. Tread the soil in gently and carefully to avoid making the ground too compacted. Water well if the ground is dry.
Don't forget to to attach a weatherproof label with the name of the rose.
Follow much the same procedure as above. Try not to disturb the root ball too much when planting, as most container roses have slow release food added within in the root ball. The roots may not move out of the compost ball in ordinary garden soil, so add a little compost around the root ball and fill the hole as above. Most container roses are bought and planted in the spring or summer months, so do not forget to water well as roses are very thirsty plants, especially during a very hot spell. When planting in tubs or containers or raised beds they will probably need more water than they would in the open ground, so keep a close eye on them in the summer months. Don't forget your label.
Feeding roses is a very simple process. Use any proprietary brand twice a year. Sprinkle the recommended dose around the base of the plant and fork in lightly. Most roses benefit from a second feed once the first flush is over, this will promote more flowers during the later months. Never feed later in the summer as this will promote late young soft growth which will be damaged by the first frost.
Mulching the rose garden can be very beneficial in many ways. A good layer of mulch ensures that the soil is kept moist in a hot spell. Weeds are kept to a minimum. The soil is improved as humus is added to the soil. Some mulches provide extra food for your roses. Black spot and other diseases are greatly reduced, providing the soil is cleared of old leaves and debris before mulching. Many materials can be used for mulching depending what is available to you. Well rotted farm or horse manure are excellent, but do make sure that it is well rotted as fresh manure can burn the roots of plants. Shredded bark, moist peat, garden compost and leaf mould all make suitable mulches, even grass cuttings can be used sparingly providing they have not been treated with weed killer recently. Before applying your chosen mulch make sure the ground is clean and damp and you have fed your roses. Spread a layer of mulch around the roses to a depth of 2-3ins - 5-6cm keeping it away from the stem or crown of the plant. Mulching is traditionally done in the spring, but we have found that mulching spring and autumn has been very beneficial.
This is a subject that causes rose enthusiasts the biggest problems. Much has been written about pruning roses over the years, but recent trials by The Royal National Rose Society have made the subject absolute childs play. The purists will probably stick to the old tried and tested methods, but the new or novice rose grower will now find life a lot easier.
All Bush or Shrub Roses should be pruned down in the spring to half their height, remove all dead wood, and that's the job finished, what could be easier. Climbing and Rambling Roses are a little more complicated as the new or novice rose grower may not know the difference.
Climbing Roses differ from ramblers as climbers flower on this years new growth. They should be pruned in the spring down to the height you require, plus remove any dead wood. This will promote new growth for this years flowers. Once again a very simple task.
Rambling Roses differ from climbers as ramblers flower on last years growth, so obviously if one prunes in the spring you will remove all the new wood from the previous season and end up with no flowers. The correct time to prune ramblers is just after flowering, as they will then start to produce new wood for next years blooms. Quite simple really once you get the hang of it. All roses are very resilient and will survive however you prune them, and still flower despite your worst efforts. However with just a little loving care and attention they will flower and thrive as if they were looked after by an expert.
Once your roses have bloomed the spent blooms should be removed. If left on the bush they will waste energy by forming hips. If you dead head regularly the bush will continue to grow flowering shoots ensuring a good show of blooms well into late summer, and sometimes through the autumn depending on the variety. The traditional method of dead heading used to be to cut the spent blooms off three to fives leaves below the flower. But once again recent extensive trials have found this method to be wrong. It is far more beneficial to leave as many leaves on the plant as possible. So just nip the old blooms off close to the top of the stalk. It has now been proved that this method promotes the rose to bloom again faster and will also produce more flowers.
GREENFLY (Aphid) is the most common but need not be a big problem. Greenfly can be sprayed with a contact insecticide which will kill any aphids it touches. But as always prevention is better than cure. Roses should be sprayed on a regular basis with a systemic spray which will enter the plant and protect it from aphids and many other pests. There are many proprietary brands of spray on the market so the choice is yours.
BLACK SPOT, MILDEW and RUST seem to be the most common diseases, but once again , prevention is always better than cure. Start spraying your roses with a systemic spray early in the season once the new young leaves have appeared. Spraying should be continued on a regular basis throughout the season, and that way you will almost certainly avoid many of the common rose problems. We spray all our roses about every two weeks during the spring and summer and have very little disease problems. One thing that we have found over the years is that roses do tend to become immune to a particular brand of spray if used too regularly. Our tip is to alternate between two different brands which seems to do the trick. Use one brand twice and then change to the other brand and so on through the season, this system seems to work well and keeps our roses nice and clean. If you already have a bad case of black spot etc, spray once a week for a few weeks which will soon eradicate the problem. Cleanliness in the rose garden is all important. Remove and burn any infected leaves from the rose bed, and spray the bed with Jeyes fluid in the autumn which will kill off any remaining spores.
Recommended Sprays : ROSE CLEAR and SYSTHANE
If you are planting your roses in virgin soil, the Soil Sickness problem should not arise. However any bed that has grown roses for ten years or more will very likely be rose sick. It is not possible to plant new roses in rose sick soil as your new roses will certainly not prosper and could well die. The easiest answer to the problem is to remove all the old top soil to a depth of around 18ins - 45cm and replace with fresh soil from another part of the garden. The rose sick soil can be spread around other flowers beds and will not affect any other plants. The reason for soil sickness is still a bit of a mystery, but no doubt someone will find a cure one day soon.
EASY TO GROW VARIETIES
We have listed below a selection of roses which are easy to grow and will give the beginner a good start in rose growing
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
COMMON REASONS FOR FAILURE
A POOR SPECIMEN. A poor specimen of a rose will always disappoint. Dig it up and start again with a good strong healthy rose.
PLANTING UNDER TREES. See earlier comments.
DRY ROOTS. Water well in hot summers and at planting time if the ground is dry.
FRESH MANURE. Fresh manure at planting time. Always use well rotted manure.
WATERLOGGED SOIL. Improve drainage.
WIND ROCK. Wind rock can be a problem in exposed sites in the winter especially with tall varieties of roses. Prune tall branches down by half in the autumn and firm up the soil. If the problem still persists, staking may be necessary.
LACK OF FOOD. All living things die without food.
DISEASE. Spray regularly.
These notes are designed for the new or novice rose grower and will answer the most frequently asked questions. Stick to our guide lines and you will find that rose growing is quite simple and your roses will thrive and give you many years of enjoyment. Obviously we have left many questions unanswered but the most common problems are covered. Like all subjects there is a vast amount to learn if you are to become an expert in your chosen field, but most gardeners enjoy their hobby and have no wish to become a slave to the garden. Do not be afraid to ask for advice as all gardeners are only too willing to pass on their knowledge and useful tips. After all most of us learn through our mistakes, but surely that is half the enjoyment of any hobby.
IIf you would like to know more about growing roses we recommend that you read the following :
(The New Rose Expert) by Dr.D.G.Hessayon)