Roses can be planted all year round. The colours and varieties you choose will depend a lot on individual taste. Remember that fragrance is a great asset of many roses.
Since its earliest cultivation the rose has been hybridised from the species to now boast such styles as old garden roses, hybrid teas, floribundas (cluster flowered), miniatures, climbers (pillar, climbers and ramblers), weepers, David Austins (English roses), groundcover, patio and shrub roses.
There are some roses that are slightly more shade tolerant, however in general most roses will not grow well in shady positions. Roses need 5 hours or more of direct sun. With less direct sun roses will generally grow leggy, produce fewer flowers and be more susceptible to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and black spot.
The right soil conditions
Basic soil conditions will support the growth of most roses but their health and vigour are greatly improved by the addition of composted manures such as Mushroom compost, Cow manure, or commercial composts. Roses require a well – drained organic soil. Annual applications of compost and manure will improve the health and vigour of your roses.
Careful attention to watering will minimise fungal problems and provide healthy growth. Deep watering encourages stronger root systems and this is best done in the morning to avoid high humidity overnight. If a sprinkler system is installed try to avoid fine mists and opt instead for sub-surface irrigation.
A tip on watering: In mid 2013 one of our wholesale growers gave us a tip:- he virtually eliminated the need to spray for powdery mildew and black spot by ensuring his roses NEVER dried out in the pots – to be even more specific, he didn’t want the fine root hairs around the edge of the pot to dry out. We adopted this practice and began twice daily watering, three times on really hot days, and have achieved an astounding difference, have not sprayed once for powdery mildew or black spot (did have to spray for a mite outbreak though). Just incredible. So we are now converted to a less harsh watering regime, and ensure roses are far more generously watered than previously.
Hybrid Tea (or Large-Flowered Roses)
Principal characteristic is a large flower produced either singly or in small clusters of two or three. The flowers are normally borne on long stems and are therefore ideal as cut flowers. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from. Our top performers are Double Delight, Just Joey Lorraine Lee, Mister Lincoln, Peace, Pascali, and Peter Frankenfeld.
Floribunda (or Cluster-flowered Roses)
Principal characteristics are very free flowering bush roses with large clusters of flowers on shorter stems. Our top performers are Bonica, Gold Bunny, Iceberg, Seduction, and Victoria Gold.
These are more refined versions of climbing roses that have thinner and more pliable canes of varying lengths that can be easily trained up and wrapped around veranda posts, over archways and arch gates. Our Top Performers are Blossomtime, Clair Matin, Pierre De Ronsard, Twilight Glow, and Zephirine Drouhin.
The majority of climbing roses fit into this class. These are climbing roses of more vigour that are more suited to fanning out onto walls or larger structures. It is this fanning out that encourages them to produce the flowering lateral shoots, otherwise they tend to only flower on the ends of the canes. Our top performers are Buff Beauty, Crepuscule, Gold Bunny, Lorraine Lee, Mister Lincoln, Peace and Sombreuil.
Rambling by name, rambling by nature. These are prolific climbers that need room to move. They are great for climbing up into trees or over large structures where they can be left to do their own thing and they generally have hooked thorns to allow them to do so. Our top performers are Albertine, Banksia alba & lutea, Mermaid and Tea Rambler.
How to plant your rose
- Dig all holes first, holes should be about 40cm across or wide enough to hold the roots when spread out and 25cm in depth, or deep enough for the rose to be planted right up to the budding union. This will prevent the rose from becoming unstable.
- Remove the rose from the pot – shake it free of soil, the potting mix should be added to the soil in the hole.
- Make a mound 5cm to 7.5cm high in the centre of the hole and sit the central core of roots on it.
- Cover with soil and press down gently. Fill in half way and firm down again. Water and let it drain away. Fill to top of hole leaving a saucer-shaped depression in the centre so water will drain to the rose. Firm and water once more. Until planted it is essential to protect the whole plant from the drying effects of wind and sun.
- If planting into heavy clay soil, raised beds are best used, and mix in plenty of mushroom compost. Prepare the beds a couple of months in advance and observe for signs of poor drainage.
- Use of Plant Starter, or a seaweed preparation, when planting will encourage healthy roots and growth.
- Remember to mulch around the base of the rose keeping the stem clear to prevent collar rot. The best mulch to use for roses is pea straw or lucerne.
Planting Bare Root Roses
If you are planting out a new rose purchased during the winter, chances are that it is a ‘bare-rooted’ rose that has been potted up by the nursery. Do not feed bare-rooted roses with rose food or complete garden fertiliser in the first season otherwise, newly-formed feeder roots will be burnt off. However, to start off a new rose, plant it with a handful of slow release fertiliser and one of blood and bone. Be sure to water your new rose in well and keep regularly watered even during winter.
Standards & Weepers
These are planted in the same way except that stakes are required. With standard roses, a 1.2m hardwood stake is driven 45cm into the ground first; and with weeping standards the appropriate length of pipe or metal trainer is driven about 45cm into the ground. A ring is often used at the top to support the weeping canes. The rose is then placed beside and close to the stake to which it is tied (in 4 places for standards, 6 for weepers). Weepers are always kept staked but as standards age and support themselves their stakes can be removed. Tie Standard roses to stakes or other support with figure-of-eight ties. Soft material such as old nylon stockings or “One Wrap” plant ties are good, they prevent the rose from rubbing and give it plenty of support.
Roses in tubs
Roses were never intended to spend the rest of their lives in small black plastic pots, which were specifically designed for commercial purposes only. The potting mix in small pots heats up and dries out too quickly. Therefore, roses should be planted in larger pots, at least 50cm in diameter. Don’t forget that the tubs also have to be a practical shape to enable ease of re potting. If you prefer to have terracotta tubs (which are porous) it is an advised to seal the inside with a terracotta sealant, paint or line the inside with plastic (do not cover drain holes).
The variety of rose you choose should be small and compact, or no bigger than medium in their growth habit. Larger varieties are not suited as they require more fertiliser and water, and will be too open in habit to be attractive. Use a good quality potting mix only. Specific rose potting mixes are ideal. Mulching the tops of pots helps to retain moisture in the potting mix and helps to keep the potting mix cooler.
Roses in pots need regular fertilising to grow well and produce many roses. Soluble plant foods like Maxicrop etc. are ideal. Rose health tonics such as Happy Roses and Charlie Carp (which is used on the Rose Gardens at Flemington racecourse) will also be of great benefit. Apply less fertiliser (about 1/2 strength) but more often than roses grown in the ground – every month in the growing season.
Well cared for, good quality potting soil has a life of about 3 years before re-potting has to be carried out. This is generally done in the winter months at the time of pruning. Re pot with as little damage to the root system as possible, by shaking off or, hosing out as much of the spent growing medium as possible. Any root pruning should be done cleanly, neatly and not too savagely, using sharp and clean secateurs.
Pruning roses twice a year will encourage the quality and quantity of blooms.
Removing dead branches, spindly growth and old unproductive wood will initiate new spring growth from which flowers develop. Remove dead, damaged, diseased or sucker growth as close as possible to its origin. Always use sharp secateurs, positioning the anvil (the lower blade of your secateurs) away from the cut. The remaining branches are cut back to a well-developed, outward-facing bud. Remove crossing branches and shorten shoots but avoid hard pruning.
Involves removing spent flowers and cutting back to a healthy, outward facing bud. With climbing roses remove all dead and spindly growth. Select long, young canes growing from the base and tie them firmly to a support so that they are slightly curved upwards and outwards. Cut off any damaged branch tips with a slanting cut just above an outward-facing bud.
At planting time or prior to planting, the soil can be improved by the addition of compost and maybe a food such as All Purpose Plant Food. In early spring and thereafter at monthly intervals during summer and early autumn feed with home-made compost and manure mixes or all purpose fertiliser. Roses thrive on a rich diet, but not too much at any one time, better to add a small amount regularly. Add composts and fertilisers under the mulch layer. Do not feed roses during winter, as this is their resting and maintenance period (eg. Pruning).
For medium to heavy soils fertilise: Early spring (September), after the first flush of flowers (Mid-November), and at summer trimming time (Early February). For sandy soils fertilise from September onward, (because of soil leaching). Use less fertiliser more often, about every month during growing season. For rose over one year old, a combination of Rose Food, or Complete Fertiliser and Organic fertiliser. Osmocote Plus is also a great supplementary feed as it is trickling feed to your roses even when you forget. Make sure you tickle the Osmocote into the topsoil and don’t just throw it on top.
Photographs (top to bottom)
Neptune, Pat Austin, Gold Bunny, Abraham Darby, Golden Celebration, Darcy Bussell, Silver Ghost
All pics by BAAG