Roses are some of the most popular and beautiful flowering shrubs grown.
Despite their reputation for being difficult to cultivate, with the correct location, planting procedure and care, your roses should thrive.
The key to growing successful rose plants is a good planting location and soil bed. When planting roses it is important to pick a site with full sun or partial shade, at least six hours of sunlight every day is recommended. Some roses will do fine in partial shade, but most roses bloom their best in a site with full sunlight. For optimum growth, the soil must be well drained and fertile, i.e. rich in organic matter.
If your soil has high levels of sand or clay, it is useful to add some organic matter, such as compost, before planting your rose bushes. The soil pH can be slightly acidic to neutral (5.5-7). Plant dormant rose bushes in early spring. Potted plants can be planted anytime between spring and autumn, but preferably spring. Bare root roses must be pre-soaked in water for at least 24 hours prior to planting. All rose plants, both bare root and potted rose bushes, need to be planted approximately two foot deep, leaving the hole large enough to accommodate the plant’s roots (15-18 inches wide). Add plenty of organic matter such as compost or aged manure and water thoroughly.
Caring for Roses
Caring for rose bushes is important to their overall health and vigour.
Roses require diligent watering. The rule of thumb is approximately two inches of water per week. Soak the entire root zone at least twice a week in dry summer weather. Deep soakings are much more beneficial to the plant than shallow sprinklings. Frequent shallow watering can also encourage fungus, which is a major threat to the plant. Roses love water, but don’t drown them. Rose bushes are very susceptible to fungal diseases, such as black spot and powdery mildew, especially when their foliage is kept too wet. So don’t overdo it!
Feed roses when they start to leaf out in spring and after each flush of bloom or about every six weeks throughout the growing season. Use all-purpose garden fertiliser as it has balanced amounts of N (Nitrogen), P (Phosphorous) and K (Potassium). A specific rose food fertiliser can be used but it is not necessary. Stop feeding about 6 weeks before your first frost date, but continue watering until the ground is frozen, (all winter in frost free areas) .
Pruning is a very important aspect to rose care. It is vital to always use a sharp clippers. Wear elbow-length gloves to protect your hands from thorns and cuts – the gloves must be flexible enough to allow you to hold your tools comfortably and work freely. Pruning usually takes place once leaf buds appear in spring. That being said, you can spruce up your rosebushes whenever something unattractive about the plant catches your eye. Make cuts about 1/4 inch above the bud eyes and prune out any twiggy or unhealthy branches. Remove all old or diseased plant material.
The removal of spent flowers adds to the overall appearance of the rose plant. Also, because the goal of all flowering plants is to stop flowering and produce seed (in the case of rosebushes, to make rose hips), deadheading hinders this process. Therefore the plant is fooled into making more flowers. Removing dead leaves and canes also helps to reduce pests.
Starting a rose garden and caring for your roses shouldn’t be intimidating – it’s probably easier than you might think. Just give the plants what they need and before you know it you will be rewarded with beautiful rose plants abundant with colourful flowers.