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How to care for roses

How to care for roses

Consistently voted the gardener's favourite, roses are a stunning group of versatile plants that are easy to grow and live for a long time, provided they are well cared for. They are a large group and there are so many different types of rose, in a whole host of colours and scent, that there is easily one for every spot in the garden, be it a sunny or shady border, standing proud in a pot, clothing the ground or scrambling over a wall or pergola.

Where to grow roses

It is easy to grow roses as they are unfussy plants, happy in most soils provided it is free-draining. Depending on species and cultivar, roses are happy in sun or shade. Before planting get these hungry plants off to the best possible start by filling the planting hole with a generous scoop of rich, organic matter, such as your own homemade garden compost or well rotted animal manure.

How to grow roses

Although roses are naturally deep rooting plants and should be able to fend well for themselves well once established, in the early years it is best to keep them well watered, particularly through prolonged dry spells in summer. Sitting in dry soil is also one of the main causes of powdery mildew, a common rose disease that results in an unsightly, white powdery growth on leaves and shoots. Good air circulation will also help to prevent this, so always grow roses with plenty of room and make sure climbing roses are not planted too closely against walls.

To grow roses well, give them a sprinkle of rose fertiliser around the base every spring and then mulch with a thick layer of well-rotted animal manure. This is a good tip on how to grow roses as it will not only feed your plants but help to hold water in the soil and keep weeds at bay - as roses have shallow roots near the surface of the soil weeding around them can be tricky. Unless you are growing roses for their attractive autumn hips, always deadhead flowers as they fade to encourage further blooms and to keep plants looking good. Removing decaying matter also helps to stop the spread of disease, and as roses can suffer from a number of problems, good hygiene is important. To help prevent diseases such as rose black spot always collect up any fallen leaves in the autumn and prune out any diseased stems before the spring.

Roses may also struggle if they are planted in the same spot where an old rose has previously grown, and suffer from a disease called rose sickness or replant disease. Avoid this by always growing roses in a new site entirely or dig fresh soil at least 45cm deep, into the old spot.

All roses need regular pruning to keep them healthy, in good shape and to keep them flowering well, and while the specific timing depends on the type of rose, most need pruning either after flowering or in late winter or early spring. Always prune roses to an outward facing bud, making a slanting cut that allows water to drain away rather than collect on the open wound and cause disease. Always use clean secateurs and cut out any dead, diseased or damaged wood as well as any weak or crossing growth.

David Austin roses

David Austin roses, often referred to as English Roses, are a group of relatively new roses bred at the nursery of David Austin and are plants that combine the charming character and fragrance of older garden roses with the colour and repeat flowering of the more modern Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. The first David Austin rose was 'Constant Spry' in 1961 and this has been followed by the introduction of over 200 new cultivars since. David Austin roses are widely recognised as being reliable, easy to grow elegant plants laden with fragrance and have won awards all over the world and at home for their beauty and quality.

How to grow roses in pots

rosesin pots can be tricky as almost all established roses have a large, long taproot. Although there are a few roses ideal for growing in pots such as the miniature or patio type, most roses will struggle without the correct root pruning and good compost, so choose your container rose carefully. Unless you are going for a specific patio or miniature rose, climbers, ramblers and shrubs, and some David Austin roses, are the best type to grow. All will need their strongest roots shortened to compensate for them being confined in a pot and to encourage a system of good, fibrous roots to replace the much reduced taproot and take up water and nutrients. This root-pruning regime is repeated every other year when the rose should also be repotted. Always grow roses in deep pots with a minimum depth of around 30cm. Grow roses in pots in a loam based compost, which holds water and nutrients well and mix in some compost or animal manure to improve structure and sand to allow good drainage.

To grow roses in pots successfully, never let them dry out, watering them every day if necessary in summer and feed them every couple of weeks throughout the growing season - initially with a general purpose liquid feed and then, as flower buds appear, with a high potash liquid feed such as a tomato fertiliser.

How to grow climbing roses

Climbing roses make a stunning feature on a wall or fence or scrambling over an arch, obelisk or pergola. To check if you have a true climbing rose or a rambler, keep an eye on their flowering - a climbing rose will have repeat flushes of flower all summer and into the autumn, while a rambling rose flowers only the once, usually in early summer, with a huge mass of flowers. Both climbing roses and ramblers are best supported and tied into wires or trellis, to help keep them in place, but also to promote better flowering. The bending and coiling of the shoots slows down the flow of sap through the plant, helping to produce flowering shoots.

Climbing roses planted at the base of a wall need a little extra help as the soil there is generally very poor and dry. Dig a large hole and remove the soil replacing it with a generous mix of organic matter, compost and fresh soil from elsewhere in the garden. Keep deadheading fading flowers on climbing roses to encourage further flowering and ensure a constant display. Climbing roses must be pruned every year, without a regular cut they can become a mess of stems with flowers only at the very tips. Prune climbing roses after flowering in the late autumn or early winter, cutting back flowering shoots by two thirds and taking out the oldest growth to the base. Remove all ties and rearrange the stems over its support so that there is a good balanced coverage and re-tie with garden twine.

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