Rose Gardening: Growing Roses For Beginners

Roses and rose gardening have also been around for a very long time. The fossilized remains of wild roses were discovered by Archaeologists that date back more than 40 million years. Today, there’re tons of different kinds of roses that have been discovered, around 150 to 200 species of the genus Rosa and thousands of varieties. There’s even a Rose Reference Database that lists over 6,716 roses, searchable by name, classification, variety, color and many more characteristics.

Rose Gardening

Roses are considered the queen of flowers because of their beauty and fragrance, which also draw us to roses. Roses fill our gardens with glorious blooms all summer long and well into autumn or even winter and many are deliciously scented. So what better way to enjoy the romance of the garden than by growing roses?

However, you might hear that growing the “queen of flowers” can be a thorny endeavor and roses are just too much trouble. All that special fertilizers, pruning (which look difficult), talk of blackspot and diseases…that’s enough to put the novice gardener off rose gardening forever. But it’s not that hard to grow shrub roses. In fact, shrub roses are bred to be low maintenance, disease resistant, and easier to use. Moreover, “Modern rose bushes are both beautiful and tough in a wide range of growing conditions, so they are easier to grow than ever before,” says Christian Bedard, research director for Weeks Roses, America’s premier rose grower.

That being said, growing roses doesn’t have to be a challenge. As long as they are placed in a sunny location and given some TLC, you’re halfway to having a spectacular rose garden. In this detailed guide, you will learn how to grow your own rose garden successfully.

Rose Gardening: Planting Roses

Choosing roses

Take into consideration your site before choosing roses because the wrong rose for the site conditions will mean extra care of roses and not so good results. As I mentioned above, there are literally thousands of different varieties and species of roses, there is always one that will grow happily in your site.

When you buy a rose plant, it helps if you are careful to choose healthy plants, whether you are buying bare-rooted roses or potted roses. Look for signs of fungal diseases on bare-roots and always check the leaves, stems, and flowers before buying and only buy strong healthy-looking plants.

You can buy roses in different ways: Containerised, Container-grown, bare-root or pre-packed (Pre-packed roses are basically the same as bare-rooted roses, but have their roots trimmed and wrapped in plastic with a little compost).

Pre-packed roses and Bare-rooted roses

Bare-rooted roses have a lot of varieties available and they are a convenient way to order plants by mail if you can’t find at a local nursery.

These dormant roses are best planted in the early spring after the last frost and should be planted after you bring them home. They will take time to bloom over the spring.

Containerised and container-grown roses

If you are a novice rose grower, a potted rose is a great way to go since growing and caring roses in containers is easy. These potted roses are also perfect for those who don’t have space or soil to grow them in the ground.

Roses growing in containers can be planted any time between spring and fall. Most potted roses have been frown in the ground then lifted and potted up, so check plants have developed a good root system before choosing and planting.

Choose The Right Site

In rose gardening, it’s important to choose a site receiving at least six hours of sun each day. There are some roses that will be happy in partial shade, but most roses bloom their best if they are in a spot that gets sun all day.

Roses benefit from plenty of room and air, so it is never advisable to plant roses under trees or where they will be overshadowed by surrounding shrubbery. But some shade during the heat of the day will be a benefit because this will prevent your blooms from fading. And a good spot should have good air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases.

Prepare the soil

Rose foots are hungry feeders, so the soil needs to be thoroughly dug over and improved before planting. Dig in plenty of bulky organic matter will help ensure strong, healthy growth.

Light, sandy soils tend to dry out quickly, nutrients leach away and they often fail to provide the physical support to withstand strong winds, so rose bushes must also be located in well-prepared clay soil, rich in organic matter. Also, make sure your soil has good drainage because roses’ roots will rot if left to sit for a long time in wet soil.

Most roses will not tolerate extremes of alkalinity or acidity, generally preferring soils that are slightly acidic or neutral (5.5 to 7.0). If the soil is alkaline, treating it with sulfate of iron will help to make it more acidic.

Planting

  • Wear sturdy gloves to protect your hands from prickly thorns.
  • If you are planting bare root roses, soak the roots in the water for at least 24 hours prior to placing them in the ground and the roots must be kept moist the first few months after planting. Have a hose or bucket of water nearby and keep your bare-root rose in water until you are ready to place it in the ground.
  • Give them plenty of organic matter and don’t crowd them.
  • For bare-root and pre-packed roses, dig out a hole large and deep enough to accommodate the plant’s roots and to allow for good drainage, since roses don’t like wet feet. (for most types, the hole should be about 15 to 18 inches wide)
  • If you want to plant several rose bushes together, space them at least 3 feet apart to give the plant ample growing room as it matures.
  • Check the planting depth by placing the rose, in its pot, into the hole. Using a cane, ensure the graft union will be below the surface, or slightly above in heavy soil, then take the rose out of the hole.
  • Water your roses and leave to drain before removing from its pot. Make a mound of earth in the base of the hole and stand the rose on top of the mound.
  • Backfill the hole with soil, add some compost and well-rotted manure into the soil and water thoroughly. Mix well to prevent the manure from burning the roots. Then finish filling the hole with the remaining soil. Water again and then mound up additional soil around the base of the plant.
  • You will have to wait a couple of months before the leaves start showing. At this time, you can then begin to feed them.

Tips: When you eat bananas, don’t throw away the peels, cut them in a pieces and plant them with your roses. It adds Potassium (K) to the soil – an essential nutrient for plant growth.

Rose gardening: Caring for Your Roses

Feeding Roses

To produce an impressive show of flowers, you should need to feed your roses regularly before and throughout the blooming cycle.

For newly planted bare-root plants, you want to use organic methods at planting time until after the rose has produced its first blooms to avoid burning the new plant’s roots.

Organic amendments not only provide a slow, steady supply of nutrients but also help to encourage beneficial soil microbes and a well-balanced soil pH. Monthly applications of composted manure, compost and other natural and organic fertilizers, such as fish emulsion, work well.

Slow- release granular fertilizers that supply the right balance of phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and other minor nutrients will also give roses the nourishment they need for optimum growth. But be careful not to over fertilise your plants, as this can damage them.

Important note: Avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides if you’re harvesting for the kitchen.

The nutrient content in synthetic fertilizers is often higher than what you’ll find in organic amendments, so fewer applications are necessary – typically once in late spring and once in the early fall.

Tips:

  • Again, you can also use old banana skins for feeding your roses by cutting and placing old banana skins (with the inside of the peel facing down) into the soil, around the roots.
  • Planting parsley can benefit your roses since the parsley improves not only the roses’ health but also the blooms’ scent.

Watering Roses

Watering roses well is a very important aspect of growing a healthy disease resistant roses. Roses need a steady supply of moisture to keep them healthy and blooming. Some roses will let you know right away when they are thirsty, Tuscan Sun for example. The amount and frequency of watering will depend on your rose kind, your soil, and climate.

Most roses generally need to be watered deeply since this encourages their roots to extend farther down in the soil where it stays moist longer. But don’t drown them, they will die if the soil is too wet in winter. The ideal soil is loose and rich with good drainage.

Use a soaker hose to deliver water directly to the roots to keep the leaves dry, that helps your plants resist disease. Also, avoid frequent shallow sprinklings, which may encourage fungus.

Use mulch to help retain moisture in the soil, reduce the level of maintenance needed and conserve water. When you are applying a mulch for the first time, it’s best applied when the soil is moist and warm. And apply a 3 to 4-inch layer of shredded and chopped leaves or shredded bark around the base of your plants.

When you water is as important as how you water. Watering the rose in hot and dry summer weather should be a thorough watering at least twice times a week and water every day in very hot weather.

Pruning Roses

Pruning is best done in the early spring, before or as plants begin to grow. However, you can lightly prune your plants all season long to keep them well-groomed.

Regular pruning is essential to keep rose bushes lush, healthy and constantly blooming. However, pruning is often seen by novice rose growers as something to be scared of and is considered the most confusing and intimidating aspect of rose gardening. Don’t let that deter you from rose gardening! With the right techniques and tools, pruning is not very difficult and you soon find that it is not such a mystery after all.

Start with pruning shears for smaller growth. Use loppers, long-handled shears, for growth that is more than half an inch thick. And a small pruning saw is also a must-have tool as it cuts on both the push and the pull. Now, you have all tools to begin pruning roses.

When planting roses, you want your roses to grow with an open center so air can flow freely through the plant, this also helps your plants to be more like “self-cleaning”. Just cut out any dead branches as well as small, weak canes and cut back a third to a half of the old growth until you find white centers inside the cane. Clean away from around the base of the rosebushes any trimmed debris in order to decrease the chances of rose disease and insects on your rose.

Every leaf has a growth bud, so removing all rosehips and dead flowers encourage new flowers to form, just cut back below the first five-leaflet stem to promote regrowth. If your roses don’t develop rosehips, so no deadheading is needed because the blooms will drop off automatically and the roses will keep on producing more flowers.

Also, keep in mind that never plant your roses on the spot where there was another one that died because that will increase the chances of rose diseases on your new rose. If the rose is dead, just dig it out and plant a new rose in another spot of your garden.

Pest and Disease

The best way to prevent rose diseases is to select roses suited to your region or choose disease-resistant varieties – but keep in mind that disease resistant doesn’t mean disease-proof.

Even with good conditions, roses will suffer at least one from a number of diseases and pests. Here are some of the more common problems and the treatment for them:

Black Spot

This disease looks as it sounds – circular black or brown spots on the top side of leaves. This disease often caused by water splashing on leaves, especially in rainy days.

Prevent this disease by improving air circulation through the rose and watering at ground level and make sure your roses are in full sun.

A garden fungicide, which is for use on roses during periods of wet weather, can help fight the spread of black spot.

Powdery Mildew

If leave, buds are covered with a white powdery coating, it is probably powdery mildew. Mildew disease typically appears during warm and humid weather, especially when the days are dry and hot and the nights are wet and cool.

Avoid this disease by watering roses at ground level in the morning, since wet leaves, to provide the perfect growing environment. Pruning out any dead or diseased branches in the spring. Destroy any diseased parts during the growing season. During new growth, prevent mildew by dusting and spraying leaf surfaces and canes with fungicide. And again, make sure your roses get plenty of sun.

Insects

Pesky insects that like to feed on rose bushes include aphids, sawflies, and spider mites. Most of these insects can be controlled with a garden insecticide containing carbaryl, neem, or permethrin. In the case of aphids, a strong stream of water from a garden hose is often the only treatment necessary. Just good rose gardening practices can also help reduce these insects.

For more information about roses and growing roses, check some useful links and websites below:

Rose Growing – Guide for Each Section – The Rose Society of NSW

Culture of garden roses – University of Minnesota Extension

The History of Roses – Our Rose Garden – University of Illinois Extension

Rose Reference Database – Garden.org

How to plant and care for roses – Almanac

New Roses for a New Garden – CommonWeeder

Selecting and Planting Roses – Colorado State University Extension (PDF)

When Is the Best Time to Plant Roses? – Garden – LoveToKnow

Growing Roses For Beginners: How To Take Care Of Roses

Winter Protection – Our Rose Garden

Growing and Caring for Roses – University of Arizona (PDF)

Roses: growing in containers/RHS Gardening

The Basics of Growing Roses – David Austin Roses

How and When to Prune Roses – The Spruce

Water, Mulch and Fertilizer – Our Rose Garden

Roses – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Preparing Roses for Winter – University of Vermont

Rose Care | Archives | Aggie Horticulture

Growing Roses – Alabama Cooperative Extension System (PDF)

List of pests and diseases of roses – Wikipedia

Treating Common Rose Diseases – Wegman’s Nursery

Summer Rose Care | Horticulture and Home Pest News