White rose Rosa x alba

From pure white to pastel pink

Subtle tints of creamy-white and pink are complemented by luxurious grey-green foliage; and in early summer this rose gives a heavenly scent to the garden. As an added bonus, the white rose is a largely trouble-free plant.

ANNUAL CALENDAR

SPRING

March-April:

Remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood.

Apply a mulch (ground cover) of well-rotted compost.

Plant out container-grown new bushes.

SUMMER

May-August:

Inspect for pests and diseases and spray against any which appear.

Deadhead (remove dead flowers) throughout the season so that remaining blooms look their best.

Keep new plants watered until well established.

AUTUMN

September-October:

After flowering, cut back side shoots by a third. Cut back any very long shoots to avoid winter wind damage.

Prepare new planting sites.

WINTER

November:

Plant out last year’s cuttings. November-February: Plant new bare-root (grown in open ground) bushes. , PRUNING, 1

Reduce side shoots by one, third of their length imme-, diately after flowering

In autumn, trim back, long shoots which may, otherwise whip in the wind and damage themselves.

Remove dead or diseased shoots as soon as you notice them.

The white rose does not require spring pruning

TAKING CUTTINGS

In September, take lengths of ripe wood from this year’s growth, about 25cm long and 1cm thick. Keep 2 leaves near the top and a bud at the base. Remove other leaves and thorns. Dip the base into a hormone rooting powder and plant to a depth of 20cm, with both leaves above the soil surface. Space cuttings at 15cm intervals in a partially shaded trench filled with sharp sand. Tread in firmly on planting and again after winter frosts. Water in dry spells, remove any flowers, and plant out in November.

The white rose is not always white, but varies in hue to the prettiest pink. Clusters of blooms flower on upright growth or may bow down in a cascade of colour.

The French gave one alba rose variety a selection of descriptive names. ‘Incar-nata’, ‘Virginale’, ‘La Seduisante’ and ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ are just a few to excite the grower.

Cultivating

The white rose is happiest on well-drained soils. Even so, it is tough, weather resistant and will survive in most positions. Nearly all have an upright growth of about 1.5-2m. They are robust and self-supporting.

Scent

The sweet scent is legendary. The petals are used as one of the ingredients of pot-pourri. One form is grown extensively in Bulgaria for the production of attar of roses, a fragrant essential oil which is used both pure and for the manufacture of perfume.

Ageless beauty

Few garden plants have figured so frequently in history as the white rose. One variety became known as the White Rose of York, and another the Jacobite Rose, or Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Rose.

BUYING

Order white roses in the summer for delivery in autumn and plant as soon as they arrive. If the roots are at all dry, plunge them in water for several hours before planting.

It is also possible to obtain white roses as container-grown plants in the spring.

POPULAR VARIETIES

Variety ‘Celestial’ ‘Great Maiden’s Blush’ ‘Konigin von Danemark’ ‘Maxima’ (Jacobite Rose) ‘Semiplena’ (White Rose of York)

White rose

SITUATION

The white rose does best in full sun. However, it is a tolerant plant and flourishes in partial shade if other conditions are favourable.

SOIL

A medium or light, slightly acid soil is best. Apply plenty of rotted manure or compost to maintain a good texture. Sprinkle a handful of bone meal in the hole during planting.

CARE

Give a dressing of rose fertilizer in spring each year. Then mulch (cover) the ground with about 5cm of compost. Deadhead (remove dead flower heads) to keep the plant looking its best.

PLANT HEALTH

The white rose is one of the healthiest roses in the garden. Its only enemy is greenfly which must be controlled as soon as the pests appear in spring. Use a spray specifically recommended for greenfly and keep a good watch for repeated infestation. Removing dead and damaged wood in winter and spring reduces the number of possible entry points for diseases and pests, as well as keeping the plant attractive.

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