How to Grow Roses for Beautiful Summer Gardens

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Rose Growing Guide

The old French saying il n’y a pas de rose sans épine (No rose without a thorn) couldn’t be more true when it comes to knowing how to grow roses. These classic flowering plants are one of the most highly prized garden blooms, they make choice cut flowers, smell heavenly (bees love them!) and look fantastic but roses are also are one of the most finicky garden plants to tend.

There seems to be a rose which will flower all year, June was considered to be the rose month by the Greeks and Romans. The rose was connected with scenes of revelry and licentiousness, dedicated to Venus, Bacchus and Cupid.

The fundamental starting point with roses is they like a solid base of fertile sub-soil beneath their roots and morning sun is especially important because it dries the leaves, which helps prevent diseases.

If your soil is something like pure sand, you’ll need to put a “bottom” in it before your roses will prosper. In normal loamy soils, particularly where there is an understratum of permeable clayey stuff, roses will need little help except an annual top-dressing of complete fertiliser, or one of the proprietary “rose foods,” rich in potash. It is dangerous to roses, in planting, to pack masses of manure beneath the young roots; although a medium ration of very old stuff, dug into the ground deep and wide of the roots, will be welcomed as the plant grows.

Planting Roses

This starts, normally, with cutting back the young bush. Garden Centres, offering roses for sale, like to leave at least one long, strong branch; but this should be cut back to leave only about three strong “eyes” at its base, before planting.

These three “eyes” will send up three strong branches, to form the framework of all future growth—the stems which would come from the full length of the original branch, if you let it remain, would be comparatively weak, spindly stuff.

Dig a hole slightly larger than the area of the roots, and deep enough to leave the budded “eye”—that is, the union between the original briar stock and the rosebud just at ground level. Mound the earth slightly at the base of the hole, and spread the roots evenly. Cut clean through any roots which are tip-broken or damaged. Half fill the hole with earth, tread it down lightly, and put the hose in. When it is saturated, and when the water has soaked in, tip in the balance of the soil and your rose is planted. Both bush roses and standards (the difference is that bush roses branch at ground level, while standards are grown on tall trunk stems) should be planted about three feet apart.

In soil which is almost all sand, it’s advisable to take out about three feet of soil, and to floor the bottom with old iron, or with several copies of newspapers. On this “floor” spread eighteen inches of solidly-bodied soil, and then fill in with the sand. If that is too much like hard work, you will need to confine your rose buying to a few hardy sorts like Radiance. The more delicate varieties won’t thrive in sandy soil.

Roses in Pots

Patio Roses or Minature Roses can be successfully grown in pots, ideally, bare-rooted in Spring or early Winter. The pots need to be at least 40 cm deep and positioned when they can receive at least 6 hours of daily sunshine. Use a special rose potting mix medium formulated for roses and ensure the soil isn’t allowed to dry out. Top them up with fresh compost or worm castings each year and you’ll be rewarded with bountiful blooms on your patio.

Classic Roses & Rose Varieties

Rose varieties are too numerous for mention but be guided in Your choice by attending a local rose show in your area. You can then pick your favorites, knowing that what you have chosen will do well in your own area. Be sure to make certain, that the variety you choose is a free-flowering garden rose. Some roses which are grown largely for show look well on the show bench, but in the garden, they are weak growers and poor blossom-givers.

Rose Types

There are five main rose types – bush and standard roses (they are the same varieties, apart from the length of the trunk stem); the polyanthus, or floribundas (both names are used); the ramblers; the climbing roses; and the miniatures. (Most climbers, by the way, are climbing varieties of the bush and standard roses).

The polyanthus are comparatively new; but many good judges believe that they soon will reach the heights of complete popularity. They bear clusters of blossoms instead of a single rose, on each stem. They are very strong growers; they build into big bushes; and they soon will have a proud place in every garden.

Rambler roses grow so well on most soils and are so easily propagated that everyone should have one in their garden. They must not be grown against a wall, or they could suffer from mildew, they do best when covering pergolas or arches.

If you love a rose that thrives on neglet or you have young children running about the garden, then select the heritage types, unlike modern breeds they only flower once in the season but are usually thornless.

Pruning Roses

how to prune rambler roses
Pruning Rambler Roses

Pruning a rose is a matter of common sense. Roses flower on new wood; and we prune a bush to force the plant to put out as much strong new growth as possible; since each strong new stem means a rose.Roses should be cut back hard in very early Spring. Bush varieties should be cut back nearly to the ground, and standards should be correspondingly treated. Do not prune too early or the new shoots will suffer from the frost. Roses that are severely pruned produce fine specimen blooms which will look spectacular in your garden.

How to Prune Roses

Use your pruning secateurs:
(a) Remove completely any weak and spindly branches which obviously cannot produce strong new growth (remember that strong new growth will come only from strong parent branches)
(b) Shorten back the healthy branches to a point at which they can throw out strong growth throughout their full length
(c) Prune always to just above a bud which points outward from the centre (new growth will always develop in line with the direction of the top bud, and it’s no use having your new branches thrusting into the centre of the bush. Have them pointing up or outward to the sun).

Time for pruning varies with climate, and with a personal preference; but it is a fairly safe general rule to delay the main pruning as late as possible, before the first sign of spring but when the plant is still dormant. Summer pruning, after the main first flush of flowering has faded, consists of merely tidying up the plants, cutting each stem as if you were cutting a blossom.

Pruning Climbers is a different proposition. The main pruning there is done in summer, immediately after the spring blooming; when old, exhausted branches are removed, and young growth made fast to its supports. In late winter the canes are shortened back a few inches, and made secure to their supports; and roses then will bloom from the bases of the leaf stems along the lengths of the canes.

The Ramblers (Dorothy Perkins and the rest) should be pruned soon after the spring blooming – growths which have bloomed usually die back soon afterwards and the strong new growth which then appears should be made fast to supports. (You’ll find the best of the Ramblers catalogued as Wichuraiana roses).

When to Deadhead Roses

Deadheading roses fools a rose bush to use its energy on budding and flowering new roses, rather than supporting dying roses or producing rose hips. You should deadhead your rose bush regularly during the blooming or summer season.

How to deadhead roses

Deadhead roses wearing gardening gloves and using sharp secateurs. If you don’t deadhead roses, flowering stops. If the bloom is pollinated, a rose hip will develop and produce seeds. The hip, in turn, will produce a hormone that inhibits bud formation, so the rose will have done its job and will wait for another season to bloom. I like to let some of my rose plants go to seed as rose hips are high in vitamin C and are excellent for other beauty and cullanary purposes.

Disease In Roses

Principal diseases in roses are mildew, “black spot ” die back,” rust, and wilt; while insect pests which worry roses include aphids, thrips, scales and caterpillars.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease
MILDEW, which appears particularly on young growth can be cured with a dusting or two of sulphur and on the ground around the plant after pruneing.

Black spots on rose leaves
BLACK SPOT causes leaves to turn yellow; black spots develop, and the leaves drop off. There is no certain cure and affected leaves should be picked off and burned as the disease’ (it is a fungus) appears. Spray with a fungicide and ensure there is good airflow around the plant.

DIE BACK occurs when a branch dies back from the tip—some species are more susceptible than others. It is not infectious; it is not preventable, and all affected branches should be cut back immediately to healthy Wood.

RUST appears on leaves and stems in spring as orange or yellow spots, changing in summer to red and yellow; which in winter sprout black tufts of “hair.” All affected parts should be cut off and burned.

WILT, fortunately, is not often encountered. Stems die from the tips back toward the main trunk, the leaves yellowing and falling as the disease progresses. There is no cure
and all affected plants should be dug out and burned.

APHIDS, THRIPS, AND CATERPILLARS can be controlled naturally or with pesticides. Aphids, in summer and autumn, may create a black sooty mould on leaves and stems – the only cure is to kill the insects which cause it or remove by hand then spray with a homemade mixture of 2 tablespoons of soapflakes in a litre of water.

SCALE, particularly white scale, can best be controlled and killed by spraying with white oil emulsion or by painting it With glue or boiled starch, both of which smothers it. If the scale is not thick, however, you’ll remove it easily with an old toothbrush.

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