Make sure roses grow on you! | Love The Garden

Make sure roses grow on you!

Geoff Hodge's picture
By Geoff Hodge, Botanical Expert (BSc, MCIHort)

Yellow rose

We love roses - well, most of us do. They still come out top of favourite plant surveys. But some people think they take a lot of time and effort to look after. Well, it’s just not true! That does depends on which ones you grow and how much time you want to spend on them. All these things were running through my head as I was pruning my rose bushes this weekend.

Easy pruning

Pruning is often seen as a daunting subject. OK, so all the old books say you’re supposed to prune 3mm above an outward-facing bud using a slanting cut. Well it doesn’t matter that much. Yes, it needs to be close to a bud, and yes outward-facing is best so that the resulting new shoots don’t grow into the middle of the bush and become crowded - but no, it doesn’t have to be a slanting cut.

In fact, a few years ago the Royal National Rose Society carried out a pruning experiment. Some roses were pruned in the traditional way as described here - others were ‘pruned’ with a hedgetrimmer. And yes, those cut with the hedgetrimmer performed better! At least for the first 3 or 4 years. After that time, it was best to prune with the secateurs for a year – and then go back to the trimmer.

And it’s only hybrid teas and floribunda bush roses that need this pruning treatment. The Old English, shrub, species roses don’t need regular pruning - apart from, as with any shrub, the removal of very old growth and the 4Ds: Dead, Diseased, Dying and Damaged growth.

Feed for best results

Roses are hungry plants, so do need plenty of feeding for a great show of perfect blooms. Feed them after pruning or in early spring with a specific granular rose feed - Miracle-Gro Rose & Shrub Plant Food is perfect for this. However, I’m lazy (sorry busy!), so I always tend to use a controlled-release feed, such as Miracle-Gro Rose & Shrub Continuous Release Plant Food. Then mulch around them with well-rotted manure, or any bulky materials, like tree and shrub planting compost. This will help to keep the roots healthy and reduce weed growth - easy!

And they may have some pest and disease issues, but then so do a lot of other plants. Using a good protective combined insecticide and fungicide, such as RoseClear Ultra, is all that’s needed for strong growth that is free from pests and diseases.

We have lots of information on growing perfect roses, find out more. And if you’re looking for easy-care roses, that don’t need a lot of pruning, have good disease resistance and fabulous flower shapes and scents, then I always recommend David Austin’s New English Roses.

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