Ena Harkness – A gracious old-timer

Fifty years ago when it was raised, ‘Ena Harkness’had no equal to its perfect form and bright scarlet colour. With robust foliage and pleasing fragrance as well, it became the top-selling red rose, and it is still popular today.




Prune. First application of fertilizer. Spray fungicide over the plant and surrounding soil.


Plant new container-grown bushes. Water regularly for the first few weeks.



Flowering. Watch for signs of black spot, mildew and aphids. Spray with a mixture of fungicide and insecticide as soon as they appear.

In mid-July, apply more rose fertilizer to encourage an autumn flush of flowers.



Cut back the bush by a third as soon as flowering finishes. November: Plant new bare-root bushes. Spread a layer of mulch (ground covering), such as well-rotted compost, around the stems of new and established bushes.



Plant new bare-root bushes as long as the ground is not frozen. Keep soil moist. February: Apply a dressing of potash to the soil over the roots to help prevent drooping heads during flowering.

STRENGTHENING STEMS ‘Ena Harkness’ has a reputation for drooping blooms due to weak necks on the flowering steins. Encourage stiffer stems by giving an extra feed of potash in February. Apply 50g of potash per square metre of soil.


A climbing form of ‘Ena Harkness’ is available from many nurseries. This climber is best grown against a wall, as a mature plant can reach a height of 3m and a width of 4m.

Planting and care

Purchase and plant bare-root roses from late autumn to early spring, or buy container-grown plants in late spring or early summer and plant out immediately. Set the bushes about 60-70cm apart.

Dig a hole wider than the roots. Fill in around the stem with a bucketful of coir (coconut fibre) mixed with a handful of bone meal. Firm it down with your heel. This planting medium allows the roots to become established before they reach out into the garden soil.

Water new roses regularly for several weeks after planting. This is essential to establish new roots.

‘Ena Harkness’ will do better if given regular doses of rose fertilizer, but never give roses extra food after the end of July.

D uring the 1930s, the ambition of professional rose breeders was to produce the perfect red rose. But it was an amateur hybridist, Mr Norman, who succeeded.

For best effect, plant ‘Ena I Iarkness’ in a bed of its own. In groups of six or eight it will produce a rich splash of colour throughout the summer months.

Preparing the soil ‘Ena Harkness’ likes a well-prepared site in full sunlight. The soil must be well dug over with plenty of organic compost worked in.

Never plant new bushes in old rose-beds unless these have been rested for at least five years. Alternatively, remove the old soil to a depth of 30cm and replace it with a mixture of compost and soil that has not supported a rose for at least five years. , PRUNING, 1

Prune ‘Ena Harkness’ in, early spring. Reduce the, plant by two-thirds. Never, prune during a long frosty, spell. As soon as the bush has finished flowering in autumn, cut it back by about one-third to make it more stable. This will reduce wind damage during winter ‘Ena Harkness’


Flowers best in full sun. A site that is not too sheltered and has good air circulation will help reduce the likelihood of fungal attacks.


Medium soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated. Must be well drained but moist.


Requires intensive disease control. Spray regularly against black spot and mildew, and watch out for aphid infestation.


‘Ena Harkness’ is particularly susceptible to mildew and black spot. Protect it by spraying the plant and the adjacent soil with fungicide immediately after pruning and again at regular intervals from mid-June. Greenfly (aphids) can be a nuisance from late spring. Apply an appropriate insecticide as soon as the pests appear on the stems and leaves. The easiest way is to apply it mixed with fungicide in late spring or early summer.

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