The Cultivation and care of Roses

Roses are enduringly popular, which is hardly surprising when you consider the magnificent array of colours and shapes available today.

Either for formal rose beds, mixed borders, walls, pergolas or patio containers, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to roses. And as well as being ornamental, roses can be hard working, too – as dense, thorny, hedging shrubs or weed-proof ground cover.

Some cultivars and species produce a profusion of small blooms; others carry fewer but magnificent flowers. Carried singly or in clusters, roses come in nearly every colour, except true blue. They can be single (with fewer than eight petals), semi-double (eight to twenty petals), or double (more than twenty petals).

Climbers have a variety of flower sizes but all have a climbing habit. Floribundas are bush roses varying in height from 45-210cm (1 1/2.-7ft) with sprays of blooms. The new rose classification system calls them cluster-flowered roses. Ground cover roses have a trailing or sprawling habit. Hybrid teas are compact and bushy with elegant, well-formed blooms. Under the new rose classi-fication system they are called large-flowered bush roses. Modern shrub roses are free flowering with a shrubby habit. The clusters of blooms are sometimes followed by spectacular hips. Old garden roses have an open, shrubby habit; the flowerhead type varies.

Patios and miniatures are small bushes with miniaturized foliage and flowers; they usually flower in clusters.

Ramblers have a scrambling habit and clusters of mainly double flowers.

Species roses, the original wild roses, are open shrubs bearing single flowers followed by showy hips.

All roses are bought as container-grown or bare-root specimens. Container-grown roses can be planted at any time of year, weather permitting, but bare-rooted ones must be planted between late autumn and mid spring.

Roses prefer a sunny site, although a few tolerate partial shade. Most garden soils need to be prepared for roses; garden compost, well-rotted manure, a peat substitute or leafmould has to be incorporated and a dressing of fertilizer applied.

Once planted, roses need mulching in the spring and feeding in early to mid summer, spraying against pests and diseases, and rigorous pruning.

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