Rose Cultivation

Rose Cultivation

Even for the inexperienced gardener, roses should pose no problem as long as the correct choice of variety is made and a few, very simple, basic rules are followed.
Unfortunately, a tradition has grown which implies that roses need specialist treatment to grow successfully. This has largely arisen from roses being grown for the perfect flower for the show bench which does, of course, require a high level of expertise. The majority of roses in this catalogue are very easy to grow.

Variety choice - Make a careful choice of varieties. To help you, please read the notes on choosing roses or contact our customer services team.

Planting position - Choose a site with at least a few hours of sun each day and where the roots of the rose will not be in excessive competition with the roots of other plants, especially trees. The exception is the ramblers which can grow well by trees.

Soil type - Roses appreciate a humus-rich soil, ideally with a pH of 6.5 but will cope well with soils either side of this ideal. The addition of generous quantities of well rotted manure or compost both before planting and as a mulch each spring will make almost any soil suitable.

Planting - On arrival, plant as soon as possible, never allowing the roots to dry out. When planted the base of the stems should be about 3" (7.5cm) below ground level. (See fig.1). If immediate planting is impossible, keep the sealed bag in a cold but frost free place or heel the roses in.


Planting distances -In a formal bedding scheme 18" (50cm) is the ideal distance for Hybrid Teas, Floribundas and the more compact English Roses. This will give a good, full bed. In a rose border, planting in groups of 3 or more looks most effective giving the effect of one large bush ­ figure 3 below. Roses are superb as hedges. Depending on the size of variety and the speed you want it to fill out, 18" to 3'. (50cm-1m.) between plants is recommended.

Fig. 3.


Feeding - All roses, especially the repeat flowering varieties, greatly appreciate the application of fertilizer. We use Vitax Q4 (a semi-organic
fertilizer) here at the nursery and apply it to all the roses at the start of the growing season (March or April in the UK) and again in June to the repeat-flowering varieties. Many other fertilizers are suitable, please follow the recommendations on the packet for the rate and frequency of application.

Watering - Roses particularly appreciate a moist and cool root run which is easily attainable by generous mulching and occasional deep waterings. This is particularly important in climates with hot, dry summers where the waterings should be frequent enough to keep the soil moist at all times.

Healthy roses - The best way to keep your plants free from pests and diseases is to grow them as well as possible, however, an occasional spray can be very beneficial. The most effective sprays are those at the start of the season before symptoms develop, but beware of frosts the night after spraying - they will scorch the leaves badly. 'Roseclear 2' is the best all-round spray for diseases and aphids. If rust alone is the problem use 'Systhane'.

Dead heading - It is useful to remove the flowers as they die, not only to keep the plant looking good, but also to encourage speedy repeat flowering. With a variety that produces many flowers in a cluster, each bloom can easily be snapped off and, when the last bloom has died, cut the stem back to the first full sized leaf. Alternatively, 12" (30cm) or more of the stem can be removed if you want to restrict the size of the plant during the growing season. This is particularly important in climates that have hotter summers than the UK. If the variety normally produces attractive hips then the flowers should not be removed.

Pruning - is very easy. In the UK and other climates with relatively mild winters, January and February is the best time. In regions with cold winters pruning should be delayed until spring growth is just starting. Firstly remove any dead, diseased or very weak growth from the plant. Any stems that have become very old and woody and that are not producing vigorous new stems, should also be removed.

Repeat flowering bush / shrub roses should be cut down by between 1/3 and 2/3. (See Fig. 2. dotted line 1.).

Non repeating shrubs should be left alone or lightly pruned by no more than 1/3 (See Fig. 2. dotted line 2.).

Climbers - the previous year's flowering shoots should be reduced to 3 or 4 buds or about 6" (15cms). Ramblers should be left to ramble at will unless they need to be constrained, in which case treat them as climbers.


With so many varieties to choose from making the correct and final choice can be very difficult. Therefore we hope that the following will help: -

The Old Roses are limited to shades of white, pink, red and purple whereas all the other groups include yellow and apricot. The only colour not represented in roses is true blue. The modern bush roses are often distinguished by being rather brighter but also harder in colour, this can cause problems with clashing. This is not nearly such a problem with the generally softer colours of the other groups.

Repeat Flowering
With very few exceptions the summer flowering Old Roses, wild roses and the ramblers flower only once during the spring or summer usually for about 4 - 5 weeks. Nearly all the varieties in the other groups will repeat flower. It is worth noting, however, that many of the species, rugosa and some of the ramblers set a good crop of hips in the autumn.

Height and Habit of Growth
The Hybrid Teas and Floribundas have generally rather neat, upright growth in the 2 ft. to 4 ft. (60cm-120cm) range that is best suited to the more formal areas of the garden. The great majority of English Roses, Old Roses, Shrub Roses and Wild Roses are more informal and often grow taller, between 3 ft. and 6 ft. (90cm-180cm). The approximate size of each variety can be seen by looking at the measurements which show height x width, however judicious pruning can alter the size substantially. 
The climbers tend to have larger flowers and stiffer, shorter growth than the ramblers and generally repeat flower. As a rule the ramblers will grow more successfully in difficult situations.

General Reliability
This varies hugely within each group but the varieties marked with a ` tend to be more reliable and healthy. Most of the Rugosas, Wild Roses and Rambling roses are extremely healthy and the general level of health of the English Roses and of the Gallicas, Damasks and Albas in the Old Roses, is very good.
However, please do not dismiss the rest of the varieties including those in the supplementary lists - there are some wonderful and often a little different roses to be found. Which Roses to Plant Where Below are some places in the garden where one might plant roses and the groups that would be best adapted to them. However it is worth noting that, with the help of some appropriate pruning and training, roses are very adaptable.

Rose Border -
This can be anything from a low, formal border that would be best planted with bush roses to a more informal affair using English Roses, Old Roses and shrub roses. The English Roses, with their superb flowers, wonderful fragrances, repeat flowering, attractive shrubby growth and general reliability are first class for the informal border. However the addition of a few varieties from the Old Roses (especially the summer flowering group) and the shrub roses can add some extra character and variety.

Mixed Border -
Roses associate beautifully with herbaceous plants although care should be taken with the more vigorous varieties as they can easily swamp the roses. The English Roses are ideal as they repeat flower and so provide a mainstay, ensuring as many flowers as possible at any one time - the secret of success of any border. However the Old Roses and Shrub Roses (especially the Hybrid
Musks) will also look superb in this situation.

Bedding - 
This is generally restricted to Hybrid Teas and Floribundas
however there are a few English Roses that have fairly short, upright growth with the extra advantage of superb blooms, wonderful fragrances and, with their rather bushier growth, the ability to fill the bed up more effectively. Some of the best varieties are Molineux, Cottage Rose, Sophy's Rose, Mary Rose, Eglantyne, The Mayflower, Miss Alice, Charlotte and Winchester Cathedral.

Wild Areas - 
The obvious group for this area is, of course, the Wild Roses as they are very tough, have simple flowers and often set hips. Being very large, they make wonderful supports for other climbers - especially clematis which could flower earlier with varieties of C. alpina or later with varieties of C. viticella and C. texensis. The other sections do contain a few varieties that would be excellent in the wild area, some repeat flowering e.g. The Alexandra Rose, Shropshire Lass, Alba Semi Plena, Fruhlingsgold, Fruhlingsmorgan and some of the Rugosa roses.

As Climbing Plants -
Roses make the most wonderful climbing plants, but unfortunately gardeners frequently make an unwise choice, deciding on over-vigorous varieties. It is important to assess fairly accurately the height and spread that you want the rose to cover and compare it to the height quoted in the catalogue.
Ramblers are the best for growing into trees or covering garages, sheds etc and (the rather less vigorous varieties) for pergolas. Although they only flower once they can be used as a support for other climbers such as Clematis or honeysuckle.
The climbers are variable in height and the taller varieties can end up as 6 ft. of bare stems with all the flowers and leaves at the top and out of reach. However the shorter climbers, for instance the English Roses as climbers and the miniature climbers e. g. Laura Ford, Warm Welcome and Open Arms are superb at producing flowers and leaves all the way up the stem. They are perfect for most situations in the garden as they grow up to about 8' and so are easy to manage.
If, at the end of the day you are still struggling to make a choice or would like confirmation of your ideas then please do contact us - we will be delighted to help you.

Roses are one of the most fragrant groups of all plants. Most groups have at least some varieties that are scented, but the best are the English Roses, the Old Roses (both summer and repeat), the Hybrid Musks and the ramblers.