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Care Guide: How to care for Roses

Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden, particularly popular in a cottage garden and small gardens. So we have written about the best ways to care for roses, including bare root and potted.

Roses Care Guide

Bare Root Roses

Your Roses have been field-grown and then dug up, bundled, and freshly potted for planting in your garden. Their roots have usually been trimmed and they must be kept moist until planted. If you cannot plant immediately we recommend checking the roots are damp every day, and keeping the trees in a shady spot, out of direct sunlight and the wind. Planting at this time of the year gives the trees time to establish a root system before the hot summer weather when their energy will be put into foliage and flowering.

The day you come to plant the Roses, keep the roots in a bucket of water until you are ready to place them in the planting hole. Place the topsoil in two piles and any subsoil in a separate pile. Be careful to keep the sides straight so the hole isn’t narrower at the bottom than at the top. Lightly fork the edges and bottom of the hole to let the roots grow out easily and provide air holes. Use a product such as Rootgrow at planting time, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

All of our roses are grafted on particular rootstock. It is important that the stock of the rose is not planted too deeply and covered up with soil. It should be easy to see the graft mark and keep this just above the soil when planting. The correct depth will avoid the stock sending out shoots known as suckers, which you do not want, (and should be removed if they grow. Place the rose in the hole to check it is deep enough so that all the roots will be covered, ensuring that the grafting point of the stock will be above the ground, and make the hole deeper if required.

Next, mix some good-quality compost with some of the topsoils you have removed from the hole. We suggest a mix of 25-50%compost to topsoil, which will help the roses establish. Now shovel some of this soil mix around the roots. Once the roots are covered, gently firm the soil to make sure it is tucked in around the roots. Shovel the rest of the topsoil in and firm again, until filled level.

Firm the soil again and now water the rose. We suggest giving 1 bucket per rose straight after planting, even if the soil is damp. Rose failures normally occur due to unfirm planting, competition with weeds and lack of water in the early stages.

It is important to keep the rose well watered every week with a heavy soaking regularly, more so in hot dry weather so it does not dry out. Keep the area free of weeds as these will compete for the roses’ water and feed. Mulching may be beneficial to retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.

Top Tip

Dig a channel around the edge of the dug area to stop water running away from the root area.

After Care

The Rose will need frequent and large amounts of water until it is established.

Use fertiliser to get the most out of your plants, (as directed by the manufacturer).

If planting in large patio planters, follow the steps above, except, you should use high-quality compost, and will not need to dig any holes! It is especially important for patio roses never to dry out, and get stressed. Plants should always be allowed to drain, but we suggest using a saucer with your pots in summer so that this can be kept full in hot weather to prevent the plants from ever becoming dehydrated. Feeding weekly with good quality liquid plant food will also be essential in the growing season, as the roses’ roots cannot grow to find more nutrients, so must have everything they need provided to their pots.

Potted Roses

Growing your new Rose Trees & Shrubs

Please do not be alarmed by the size of your trees if you think the head of foliage looks small. The good news is you’ve purchased a young tree that is not yet fully mature – this is the best way to buy as they are ready to grow away in your garden. Given some basic care, they might even flower this year! We have done all the hard work of growing the long clear stem, so all you have to do is nurture, like you would a normal rose bush, to produce the flowers. If you don’t get blossoms this season, it’s nothing to worry about, as your trees will establish this season, and then burst into growth and flower earlier next year.

Ideally, plant your Rose tree in a bright sunny spot in your garden that receives between four and eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Choose a planting location that also offers your tree fertile & well-drained soil. Rose trees dislike shade and dry soils, & will not thrive in these conditions. Do make sure you select your planting location carefully.

Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball & mix some of the soil with quality compost. Carefully remove the pot from the tree, careful not to disturb the Roses’ roots & position it into the planting hole. Backfill with the soil/compost mix & firm in well. Next, stake your tree – it is essential to provide standard rose trees with a stout cane or small tree stake & tie them into this. This will keep the clear stem upright & help support the head of leaves & flowers as it grows. Now water your Rose tree well. Keep a regular check on your rose trees, they will need frequent watering, often a bucket each day in hot weather whilst they establish. To get the best growth & flowers from your trees, you should also provide a good quality liquid feed weekly, (following the manufacturer’s instructions), throughout the growing season.

If you opt to plant into planters, do ensure they are of a large and generous size to accommodate a larger fully grown tree, a 20-litre pot would be a good choice. This will save disturbing the trees later on & also provide extra compost to feed the plants right away. If you do grow in pots, it is essential to provide drainage in these containers. Ensure they have several holes in the base of the planter, then add a layer of gravel, stones or old broken plant pots, before adding a mix of new, good quality, multi-purpose & John Innes compost around the root-ball. Firm well, stake, water & feed as above.

For best results, plant your Rose trees with the rootball at the same level it was growing in its pot. These are for transportation only, so do not be alarmed if they become cracked on the journey to you, they are not for keeping trees in long-term & can be disposed of with plastic recycling collections.

Watering & feeding your Rose Trees regularly is critical to success. If you do not keep the trees well watered & fed during the growing season, they will not grow well. Keeping well fed & watered will encourage each tree to form a strong, healthy root system, & in turn will produce better top growth & flowers. Be careful to never allow the trees to dry out in hot weather whilst they are establishing, particularly when growing in containers, even if this happens just once it could cause irreversible damage and kill the trees.

It is important to feed your Rose tree with a good quality water-soluble fertiliser in the growing season to promote healthy, vigorous plant growth. Always be sure to follow the application instructions on your fertiliser package.

In late winter, while the Rose trees are still dormant, you may wish to prune the top crown to keep a compact blooming head. Use sharpened & sterilized pruners to remove diseased, damaged or dead branches from your tree. Trim the length of the branches back by two-thirds each year to rejuvenate your tree & encourage healthy growth & the best flowers each summer. Roses do require a little extra effort than other plants, but they are well worth it, & will reward you for the extra care and attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you maintain roses?

To maintain roses, plant them in a sunny location with well-drained soil. To assist your roses, regularly add a fertiliser and water them evenly to keep the soil moist.

When should roses be cut back?

Ideally, you should prune your roses in the late winter to early spring.

Can you cut rose bushes to the ground?

Yes but it’s not necessary. Only cut your rose bush to the ground would be if the canes are either severely damaged or dead.

Download Care Guides

We have created two care guides to help you grow a happy and healthy plant. We have an In-depth Care Guide and a Simplified Care Guide.

Shop Roses Now

Updated on April 12, 2023

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