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Roses Advice: Rose Bush Care

This advice about roses section contains the basic information and tips you need to grow Rosaceae (e.g. woody perennial flowering plants). Rose bushes do not need intensive care, but a little knowledge will be useful advice for beginners when carrying out general rose bush care.

Taking Care of Your Rose Plant: Genus Rosa

Roses are deservedly popular and they will give many years of interest and beauty in the garden – if cared for properly.

There are more than three hundred species of roses, including climbers and ramblers (e.g. for fences and walls).

You can also plant the hybrid teas (Rosa x hybrida) and floribunda roses (compact with large flowers) for shrub beds or lawn borders.

Note: Other sections address the old fashioned shrub rose plants. Nonetheless, you will find patio and miniature roses more suited to containers.

Where to Grow Roses for Best Results

People grow many other types of roses as houseplants. But, once potted, you should stick to the common advice about roses and not move them outside. As a result, you can grow roses in the ground or in large containers.

But, containers are more suitable for the bush and miniature/patio types, as opposed to climbers, ramblers, and strong growing roses like Queen Elizabeth for instance.

It is best to grow roses in full sunlight, unless you live in one of the hotter countries. Even so, they will also grow in dappled shade, and some climbers or ramblers are happy with their roots in full shade – scrambling up to the light.

Note: The master section contains further advice and information about gardening rules and regulations (e.g. a beginners guide to horticulture in Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

Ideal Soil for Growing Rose Plants

To a certain extent, the type of rose rootstock you use will determine the type of soil to grow roses in. In reality, you will have little control over that, so for an average, roses prefer a slightly heavy soil.

This type of soil tends to hold moisture better and suits most species of rose. Clay soils are fine, and though clay soils can crack and open up in hot dry weather, the root system of roses is not generally too fibrous.

Simply put, they can cope with soil movement around their roots better than many of the common fibrous rooted shrubs.

Planting Roses

Bush and climbing type roses would usually thrive better grown on a special rootstock, often budded onto a wild rose for health and vigor reasons.

Even so, with advances on propagation techniques, you can now produce stunning roses from cuttings.

If there is a rootstock visible with the rose (a thick stem at ground level with the rose shoots growing out of it) then the rootstock should be planted so that the top is just below ground level.

Tip: Doing so allows for better basal growth to form new shoots.

All roses need planting firmly – even to the extent of pushing the soil down with your foot. But, avoid being too heavy with that on clay type soils.

Adding rotted compost to the planting hole is following good advice about roses. Or, add a little multi-purpose potting compost to encourage the roots to start rooting into the soil.

Pruning Roses

The best method for pruning rose bushes is shrouded in mystique. So, why is that? It is because older books – and copycat writers – wanted to make it sound more difficult than it actually is!

For example:

Let’s look at hybrid tea and floribunda roses – in temperature zones where they die down in winter. Cut back all growth by around 50 percent in late autumn/fall to prevent the problems at root level caused by wind rock movement.

That is not too much of a problem, for roses in such areas will not have much foliage to act as ‘sails’ in strong wind.

At the end of winter, cut back all the stems to around six (6) inches (150 mm) from ground level for HT roses and a little bit longer for strong growing varieties and floribunda types. In this case, eight to ten (8-10) inches would be about right.

In simple terms…

At the time of pruning roses, cut out all weak and dead growth. Ideally leave only the strong shoots. They will send out side shoots to replace the weaker growths that have already been cut out.

At flowering time, cut off all the dead flowers as soon as they have faded. With cluster flowered roses, cut back into the stem, slightly below where the flower stalks started.

Feeding Roses in the Garden

Roses respond well to feeding, particularly because of the regular pruning off of the ‘food factory’ of the rose! Be sure to check out further gardening tips and advice in the main category section.

General purpose feeds are fine, and of course you can get specialist rose fertilisers. Hence, an early dressing of organic bone meal, followed by a light dressing of fish blood and bone once growth starts, does the trick well.

Pests and Diseases of Roses

Roses pests are a nuisance and mainly confined to aphids (e.g. greenfly or blackfly). But, you can get rid of them quite easily using a general or organic insecticide, or you can wash them off with a jet of water.

Most of the common diseases of roses are confined to mildew and black spot. Thus, rose rust tends to be less of a problem. A general fungicide usually deals with both mildew and black spots on the leaves.

It will also do no harm if you use a fungicide as a preventative spray (e.g. rather than waiting for the disease to take hold).

In case you were wondering:

Some rose varieties are more susceptible to fungi diseases than others. For instance, the lovely Iceberg rose has a tendency to attract any mildew spores in the vicinity, as does the gorgeous red – Frensham.

Nevertheless, Iceberg is worth the trouble of using preventative sprays. In some cases, it may be better to leave growing Frensham roses to the nurseries or garden centers.

Related Help Guides

Note: This short video presented by the Royal Horticultural Society explains some of the easiest ways to grow roses at home in borders, containers, and over arches (e.g. in a pergola).

Advice about Growing Rose Bushes in the United Kingdom