Roses have long been cherished in both private and public gardens for their stunning variety of colours, fragrances, and forms. Growing beautiful roses, however, can be a rewarding yet challenging experience for gardeners.
With the right combination of care, attention, and patience, anyone can cultivate a thriving rose garden that will be the envy of their neighbours.
1. Sun, Sun, Sun!
For the healthiest plants and best flower display, rose bushes should receive six to eight hours of sunlight daily. Choosing a site that receives adequate sunlight when planting roses is crucial.
Some roses are more tolerant of partial shade than others. However, no roses thrive in full shade. If you want a lot of blooms, then you need a lot of sunlight.
To ensure optimal light exposure, select a planting site that provides:
- At least six hours of direct sunlight daily
- Good airflow to promote healthy growth and reduce disease risk
2. Soil Conditions
The ideal soil for growing roses should be well-draining, rich soil, that is neutral to slightly acidic. This type of soil provides the necessary drainage that roses need while still allowing it to retain enough moisture and nutrients for the plants.
Roses thrive best in a soil pH slightly acidic to neutral, which means a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. To determine the pH level of your garden soil, it’s recommended to perform a soil test.
You can get simple strip test kits to test the acidity of your soil.
If the test results indicate that your soil lies outside the desired pH range, amend the soil accordingly before planting. This can be done by adding lime to raise the pH or adding sulphur to lower the pH.
You also want to add plenty of organic matter to your soil to improve rose growth. I like to do this by adding lots of homemade compost as mulch; you can use store-bought or well-rotted manure too.
3.Feed, Feed, Feed!
Roses, being heavy feeders, require regular fertilisation to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms.
I like to mulch my roses with compost, but you can also do this with manure to get a lot of nitrogen into the soil. I also spread a handful of Fish Blood & Bone around the base of my roses in spring. I then swap to a rose feed for the summer months.
As the growing season progresses, fertilise your roses every two to four weeks. The frequency of a
Then when the roses go into their dormant stage come winter, I will again mulch them. If I have access to it, then I will use well-rotten manure for this, but I often don’t, so instead, I will mulch them with some of my homemade compost.
As with any flowering plant, deadheading is essential to getting the best possible display. This is simple enough, just remove any spent blooms when the start dying back.
This essentially “tricks” the plant into making new flowers. The plant is trying to reproduce by creating seeds, if you remove the flowers before they can turn to seed then the plant must make more.
Pruning roses can be a thorny subject… with many gardeners having a certain way of doing it and telling anyone who will listen that any other way is plain wrong.
I keep it simple, as with most things in my garden. The exact advice will vary depending on the type of rose you have, a shrub rose requires different pruning than a climbing rose for example.
The advice below is just general, as this is not intended to be a pruning guide. If you want a pruning guide, then the RHS have an excellent one here.
Step one is to open the centre of the rose bush up to allow for good airflow. This reduces the chances of fungal problems. Any canes that rub against each other should also be removed, much as you would do with a tree.
Remove old, weak growth to encourage new healthy growth that will carry more flowers.
6. When To Plant Roses?
When choosing the best time to plant roses, it is important to consider the climate and local conditions of your garden. Typically, roses should be planted after the last frost in spring or in autumn, at least six weeks before the average first frost.
In early spring, temperatures tend to be cooler, allowing the rose to establish itself before facing the summer heat. Spring planting also provides the benefit of finding a wide variety of roses for sale. This period comes after frost, which reduces the risk of damage to more frost-prone roses.
Autumn planting offers milder temperatures, which will not stress the new rose. However, it is crucial to plant at least six weeks before your region’s first frost date. This timing ensures the rose’s roots have enough time to get established before going dormant during winter.
The ideal time usually comes anywhere from February to June, depending on the climate, allowing the plant to form strong roots before the full heat of summer arrives.
7. Dealing With Pests
One of the most common pests you will encounter with roses is aphids; these tiny little buggers can be a real pain to deal with. Here are some methods that I have found to work over the years.
Put some gloves on, because this will get messy, and run the rose leaves between your thumb and forefinger, squashing the aphids as you go.
A bucket of soapy water next to you to wash the bug juice off your gloves is a good idea as you squish. It is messy and time-consuming, but because 99% of the aphids will be flightless, you can do some serious damage to their numbers.
If, however, you don’t get them all, they will soon be back, so this is not a one-time and done job.
Hose Them Off
One easy method of trying to keep aphids off your treasured roses is to spray them off with a high-powered hose.
This should knock the aphids off and also kill a few at the same time. This is a fairly easy method and doesn’t harm the plant at all.
Crucially though it won’t kill all of the aphids so it is more of a method to try and minimise the damage rather than get rid of the aphids altogether.
Washing Up Liquid Spray
This is one of those home remedies that seem to get recommended for every problem but it can work on aphids.
The idea behind this is that you spray a diluted mix of washing-up liquid onto your aphids. The sticky spray makes it so the aphids can’t breathe and they therefore die.
It does work but it is nowhere near as effective as commercial sprays.
One issue with this method is that it can cause burn-like damage to the leaves and flowers of your roses so you do need to be careful. Just because it is not a pesticide doesn’t mean you can go spray crazy. Rinsing the plant with a follow-up water spray can really help here.
There are lots of different bug sprays that will kill aphids, some organic, some not. I always advise trying to use organic methods where possible but I can understand why you may want to try and use a proper pesticide on your precious lupins.
but I will say, give the organic methods ago before resorting to pesticides if the other options don’t work.
- Same day, spray and eat
- Contact insecticide for ornamental plants, fruit and vegetables
- 100% natural active ingredient
- Controls greenfly, blackfly, whitefly, scale insects, mealybugs, red spider mites and other mites
- For use both indoors and outdoors all year round
While made for fruit and veg this spray can work just as well on roses.
The main active ingredient in this spray is rapeseed oil which is where the made from natural ingredients claim comes from. This spray should be a lot better for the environment and other animals than using a pesticide spray.
If you want to go the whole hog and get a heavy-duty bug spray then I recommend rose clear ultra, made by the same people as the spray above but this is the full pesticide version.
- Kills Aphids, Greenfly, Blackfly, Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, Rust etc
- Prevents Further Attacks
- 3 in 1 Action
And finally, we have my favourite method, introducing ladybirds to your garden or allotment. Ladybirds are natural aphid predators.
You can buy them in their larvae form and then introduce them to your garden where they will hunt and eat aphids.
These native British Adalia Bipunctata ladybird larvae have a huge appetite for soft -bodied garden pests such as aphids (greenfly and blackfly), spider mite, scale, mealy-bug etc.