Growing and Caring for Roses

Growing and Caring for Roses

Roses are the most popular of all cultivated shrubs and there are hundreds of species and named cultivars (varieties) available. Basically, there are four types: shrub roses, grown for their flowers and brightly coloured hips; hybrid teas, which carry one large bloom per stem; floribundas, producing several blooms per stem; and climbing and rambling roses.

Many roses are sold as bare-rooted, dormant plants. When selecting one, make sure the roots are firm and plump, rather than thin, dry and shrivelled.

Choose a sunny site and rich, well-drained soil, away from over-hanging trees.

Dig a hole 15 cm (6 in.) wider and deeper than the root spread. Carefully fork over the bottom of the hole, incorporating a bucketful of well-rotted manure and a handful of bonemeal. Plant the rose firmly, working fine topsoil between the roots. As most roses are grafted, make sure that the join between the root stock and the named variety is at the same soil-mark level as it was when bought. If suckers appear from the roots, pull these off with your hands.

If you are planting standards or half standards, hammer in a stake before planting, to avoid damaging the roots. The top of the stake should be at least 5 cm (2 in.) below the lowest branch. Tie the trunk to the stake once near the top and again halfway down the stake. Mulch round the plants each spring to conserve moisture and keep down weeds. Check and adjust stakes and ties as necessary during the year.


Initial rose pruning consists of cutting the branches back to about 20 cm (8 in.), to an outward-facing bud. This prevents the bush rocking in strong wind. Roses planted in the autumn should not be pruned back hard because severe frosts could kill all above-ground growth, leaving only the rootstock living.

In autumn, shorten the stems of established hybrid tea roses by about half, removing all old blooms. During March or early April, cut each stem back to a strong bud, 10-15 cm (4-6 in.) from the base.

Established floribunda roses are pruned in much the same manner as hybrid teas. Being naturally more vigorous, however, they are pruned less severely in spring. Cut back to an outward-facing bud 15-20 cm (6-8 in.) from the base.

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