How to Grow Roses.


Roses prefer a heavy clay soil and above average fertility.  The best time to plant Roses is November bareroot provided the soil is not frozen.  You can plant potted roses all year round.  When planting your rose it is essential you double dig over your border or island bed to open up the soil structure.  When planting your rose please remember to keep the grafted join above soil level at least one inch (2.5cm) you can tell this as the thickest part of the stem.  If you bury this part it will only send up suckers from the rootstock, which weakens your rose.  When buying your rose choose one that has at least three good stems, which are all facing away from the centre of the plant.  It should look like a wine glass in shape make sure there is no dead wood or diseased looking spots on the stems.  The stems should be good even colour either red or green depending on time of year of purchase.  Feeding see notes below.


November is the ideal time to prune your roses prune them down to 6 inches in height if you live in a frost-free area otherwise prune the shoots by half to stop wind-rock.  Remember Roses still grow away throughout the winter this is the time they are getting next years buds produced you will notice small red buds starting to form on the main stems.  Mulch your roses now leaving a gap of about 3 inch away from the main stem with well rotted farm manure or garden compost.

(Word of warning re Farmyard Manure – Make sure you get genuine farmyard manure from cows that eat hay not silage.  Silage fed cows the manure produced is high in toxic effluent, which will burn and kill plants.)


Roses are very hungry plants so start feeding early from Mid-February with a good Rose Fertiliser like “TopRose” apply 4oz per plant spread the fertiliser 3-4 inches away from main stem of Rose and fork in lightly.  This will allow the fertiliser to get washed down into the base of the Rose in time for when the plants need the feed from April onwards it takes time for fertiliser to travel in the soil especially if a heavy soil which Roses like.  Then start liquid feeding the Roses when you see the first leaf buds opening each week up to flower bud stage with a good high Potash fertiliser like “Tomato Fertiliser” give each plant one gallon (4.55 litres) of mixed up liquid feed.

Then in June give another topdressing of TopRose fertiliser.

If you follow these instructions you will have very healthy plants with masses of flowers, healthy plants will produce more flowers than poor plants lacking feed.  A good sign of poor feed in Roses is small black dots on the leaves like pepper dust sprinkled over the leaves.  Not to be confused by Black Spot which is much larger blotches and is a fungal problem.


Black Spot is common on roses in areas of high rainfall and where the Roses have not been properly pruned.  When pruning always keep the centre of the rose clear never let two branches cross over each other.  Always let new young shoots grow up to replace the older rose wood so as you can prune the older wood out and let the new wood take over.  Aim to have three main stems and always train your branches on the horizontal for climbers, ramblers and scramblers this will allow to keep the rose bush more open and encourages better flowering.  When roses are in full leaf you should be able too see through the plant so as air can move around the plant thus helping to prevent spores from germinating, as they like still damp conditions.

Rust and mildews again all signs of poor feeding and wrongly pruned plants.

Aphids and other insects that suck on the leaves these can do a lot of harm especially to new rose buds using an organic soap solution works best.  The soap makes it difficult for the insects to climb over the stems but you have to do this when the weather is dry and if it rains will have to be repeated.  Or you can use a systemic insecticide and follow the manufactures instructions. Systemic means it will move around inside the plants sap so no matter where the insect eats it will get the poison.


To encourage a second flush of flowers it is essential that you deaf head the flowers that are over cut the flower stem back to first set of leaves at an angle to allow the water to run off the open cut and stop dieback of the stem, try top cut so as the water runs off away from the centre of the plant.  After deadheading it is a good idea to give the foliage a light mist of foliar feed at half strength to help the plant promote new buds.  If you leave the old dead flowers on this can lead to disease setting in and takes away a lot of the plants strength.

Cut Flowers

Roses especially Hybrid T’s are ideal for cutting.  When choosing your rose to cut wait until you just see colour in the rose bud then cut your stem as long as possible.  Prune off your thorns and lower leaves.  Place your roses in the vase you are going to use to display them in one at a time as you put the rose into the water give it 5 seconds in the water then cut one inch (2.5cm) of the bottom of the stem or to the required height but cut the stem in the water this gets rid of any air bubbles that could get trapped inside the rose stem stopping the flow of water up the stem.  To your water add a teaspoon of sugar or use cheap lemonade instead of water and drop in one “Aspirin”, yes the headache pill, this helps to keep the liquid clear and disease free.  Display your roses in a room where the temperature does not fluctuate too much as too high or too cold a room will shock the flowers and can stop the flower buds from opening.  Ideally give then as much daylight as possible near a window.  If you follow these tips your Roses will last a week longer than just popping cut roses into a vase of water from your flower shop.  Home grown roses are the best for cutting the fresher they are the longer they will last inside in a vase.

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