One of the traditional planting times in a gardener’s calendar, spring is a great time to establish roses in your garden and, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s also an unusual and long lasting gift for a special someone.
Roses are easier to maintain than most people realise. You can plant containerised roses at any time, as long as the soil isn’t frozen or water logged, and nowadays it’s increasingly popular to plant in the summer months as long as you water frequently.
With a huge variety of roses available in a vast colour range - from reds, oranges, yellows, creams, pinks and even dusky lilacs – you’ll be spoilt for choice.
At this time of year most roses for sale are pruned back ready for planting, but you also need to select which variety suits the personality of your garden the most. With strong upright growth, the Hybrid Tea is a very traditional bush that produces beautiful single flowers. Its long stemmed roses also look stunning when cut and arranged in vases. Whereas the Floribunda, which means lots of flowers, holds true to its name producing a large number of flowers in large clusters.
There’s also the range of roses developed by David Austin Roses. Not as hard pruning and more lapse looking, the plant arches slightly and produces larger bushes very reminiscent of a romantic country garden. A very popular variety of rose, its scent is also exceptional and it repeat flowers across the summer. But if you don’t have a lot of room in your garden, varieties like the Floribunda, but with shorter stems, also fair very well in containers.
When you’ve selected the types and colour of your rose, your next task is to select a good location. Rose bushes and trees are at their happiest in a sunny position. Traditionally they should be planted two foot apart, however it is fine to be more relaxed with your planting depending on the look you would like to achieve.
In the first season of planting the goal is to get the roots established. You need to start by conditioning the soil. Dig over the ground and prepare it with a comp ost full of the right nutrients for root growth, like specific rose tree and shrub planting compost.
Next, you need to dig a hole that’s a bit larger in size than your plant pot. Then fork over the bottom of the hole and add compost in the bottom to form a good base for the roots to knit into. Sprinkle a handful of bone meal into the hole, also scattering it around where the plant will go, then use your heel to compact the soil in around your plant and give it a water around the roots.
Your plant will need frequent watering during the first few months, particularly during a dry spell, and when it reaches the summer months you’ll need to water around once a week with a real puddling of water at its roots.
When the first main flushes of flowers arrive in June/July time, give your plants a rose fertiliser like Rose Plus which will help them to keep performing for the rest of the summer. Your next job is across the summer months as fading flowers need deadheading. Just cut back the stem with secateurs until the next leaf joint or bud, cutting off approximately 15 cm to 25cm (6in to 10in). This then helps your rose plant repeat flower across the flowering season.
By late October/early November your roses will need pruning, cutting back to a leaf bud or joint by about half. This helps prevent wind-rock, where heavy winds and rain ‘rock’ the plant around and cause a gap in the soil at its base enabling frost to get in.
Just make sure you cut at an outward facing bud to help keep the shape of the bush or tree. This helps your bush or tree look nicer and helps prevent disease by encouraging the air to circulate throughout the plant.
Although pruning does frighten some people, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s hard to make a drastic mistake and that cutting back doesn’t damage the plants, much the opposite, in fact it helps new and stronger growth next year and helps encourage a better shape.
Finally, next spring time you may need to remove any damage caused by a hard winter and remove any spindling or weak shoots to maintain this beautiful addition to your garden.