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How to Grow Roses

Originating from China, the earliest modern rose was the tea rose. With centuries of breeding, modern roses are long flowering with it possible to achieve continuous flowering from spring to autumn. There are single, semi-double and double-flowered forms in every colour imaginable and most with a beautiful fragrance.

How to Care

Roses are deciduous (falling off at maturity) shrubs. The best time to plant is in winter. If planting in spring or summer, keep well watered.


They like a sunny, open position in the garden and love a rich and well-drained soil. Prepare the soil before planting by digging in plenty of compost and a dressing of good quality rose food. Raise beds in clay soil to improve drainage.

Before planting, cut away any damaged branches. Aim for 3 to 4 main leaders and with sharp secateurs cut the main leaders to within 4 to 5 buds from the base of the plant. Plant the rose to a depth level with the bud union just above the soil.


Prune roses when they are dormant in winter. Remove weak or diseased growth to encourage new growth in spring. Always use sharp secateurs. Make the pruning cut 5mm above a bud on a 45 degree angle slanting backwards. Remove spent flower heads in summer for continuous flowering.
Feeding and Watering

Roses require regular feeding. Use a good balanced fertiliser. Feed roses in early spring when new growth appears and again in mid-summer. Water in well.

They require regular watering throughout summer. Deep watering is more effective than light sprinklings. Avoid wetting the foliage as this encourages the spread of fungus diseases.


Mulch roses in early spring and again in mid-summer with a compost or mulch. Mulching keeps the roots cool and moist.

Pests and Diseases

For all of their beauty, roses do require regular spraying and maintenance to keep them pest and disease free. Good watering, feeding, pruning and air circulation help to keep roses healthy and disease free.

Aphids – Aphids are small sucking insects that appear on new growth. Hose off, squash with fingers or spray with a suitable spray such as Mavrik.

Scale – Rose Scale look like fine white flakes stuck to the stem. Control with white oil or all season’s oil.

Mites – Mites are found on the underside of leaves causing distortion, speckling and silvering of leaves. Spray with Mavrik, or a mite killer.

Black Spot – Black spot appears as dark brown-black spots in yellow rings on the leaf, usually in summer. Avoid wetting the foliage when watering. Copper Fungicide can be sprayed as a protectant. Use a spray such as Yates Fungus Fighter or Rose Shield.

Mildew – Powdery Mildew appears as a white floury powder on the leaf surface. Improve air circulation around the plant. Use a spray such as Yates Fungus Fighter or Rose Shield.

Downy mildew is a disease sometimes confused with Black Spot as it appears the same. Downy Mildew tends to attack Roses in early spring while Black Spot attacks in late spring and summer. Use a spray such as Yates Fungus Fighter or Rose Shield.

Rust – Rust appears on the underside of the leaf as orange spots and turn black. Spray with a spray such as Yates Fungus Fighter.

Popular Varieties

Hybrid Tea roses grow from 1 to 2 metres in height with large double flowers on single stems. Some are fragrant.

Floribunda roses grow 1 to 1.5 metres in height with many clusters of flowers on one stem.

Climbers or pillar roses grow 2 metres plus in height. Some have hybrid tea type flowers others floribunda clusters.

Old Fashioned roses are often called species roses. Some grow to 4 metres in height, some are fragrant and have colourful hips in winter.

English roses (modern shrub) are bred to retain the best old-fashioned rose traits of fragrance and flower form but benefit from modern breeding being disease resistant and continuous flowering. They grow to a height of 1 to 2 metres.

David Austin roses are popular English roses.

Miniature roses grow from a height of 15 to 50cm, are compact bushes, do not require pruning and are great in patio pots and tubs.

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