War of the roses

For the novice gardener, roses can be a little intimidating – the wide variety of different types, strange names, care and attention, spraying, fertilizing, and of course pruning.

However, growing roses doesn’t have to be scary. Trust me, I’m no expert! However, chose the right type for your garden and you’re half way there. And with all the different varieties to choose from, its not too hard to find a perfect match.

Roses are beautiful and will create a dramatic focal point in any garden. All you need to do is learn the basics and your roses will be the envy of your neighbours.

Choosing the right rose for your garden

Today, there’s an vast selection of different colours, sizes, shapes, and fragrance of roses. There is so many different types to choose from that it can be a little overwhelming. The best advice we can give you, is just to consider local climate and your particular landscaping needs.

Do you want roses to cut and share, or is it purely to add a splash of colour to your garden? Are you interested in how they smell? Think about the size of the mature bush too. Do you want to create a specific colour scheme?

The following list shows the popular types of rose in the UK:

  • Hybrid Tea Rose
    Makes an excellent cut flower with its large single bloom. Hybrid teas grow to approx 5ft.
  • Floribunda
    Provide a large cluster of medium sized flowers. They’re hardy, easy to maintain and will grow to approx 3ft.
  • Grandiflora
    Produce clusters of large flowers on strong straight stems that can reach up to 8ft.
  • Rambler Rose
    Winter hardy and will bloom once in spring. Can easily reach a width of 30ft.
  • Standard Tree Rose
    A hybrid of Tea and Floribunda roses. They are a formal looking rose that can grow up to 6ft
  • Patio Tree Rose
    A combination of Floribunda and Miniature roses. Perfect for containers and will grow to approx 4ft.
  • Modern Shrub Rose
    Combining the appearance of old roses with modern colours. Will grow to around 6ft – 7ft.
  • Ground-Cover Rose
    Vigorous, disease resistant and low growing. They can spread up to 8ft wide and are pretty hardy.
  • Climber Rose
    Long stemmed shrubs that are at home when trained on walls, trellis or fences. Can reach from 6ft – 20ft high.
  • Miniature Roses
    Dense, low growing plants with small blooms that generally grow to approx 2ft.

Choosing the right rose for the climate

It is important to consider the local climate when choosing a rose. For example, too much sunlight can cause yellow roses to fade, giving petals dark edges. Yellow roses are also susceptible to diseases in damp conditions.

No roses are drought resistant and need regular watering during the summer. Certain types of rose are more susceptible to disease than others, so always do your research, check the label, and go for a disease resistant variety.

In terms of the best types for the UK, that one is open to debate and a search in Google will yield many varying top ten’s. With so many great roses, it really does come down to personal preference. However, we would say that you can’t go too far wrong with Old English, Hybrid Tea or a Shrub Rose.

Buying a Rose

Most roses come with exposed roots or in containers. Bare root are bushes purchased in a dormant state with soil removed making them easy to transport, hence why many online stores sell this way.

A container rose on the other hand is they type you see available at most garden centers. And the good thing about potted roses is you can see the plant and judge whether it looks healthy or not. The difference between the two is basically variety, with the container range a little more limited.

Planting a Rose

Roses are generally best planted amongst other plants and mixed into your borders. Keeping roses clustered together can encourage the spread of disease and pests.

Always plant a rose in good, compost enriched soil with good drainage. Roses need at least 6 hours of full sun per day and our general rule is new rose, new soil.

Newly planted roses need frequent watering until the plant becomes established and you see new growth. You may notice some slight wilting for 5 days or so after first planting, but this is common while the rose establishes itself.

If you want to go down the container route, then this little video on YouTube from eHow Gardening Tips offers some good advice:


The amount of water a rose needs after it is established depends on climate and soil conditions. Sandy soils drains quickly, so you need to water every 5 days. Check for drainage to see if you need to water more frequently. Hot, dry, or windy locations need more water than average. Heavy, clay soils take much longer to drain and hold moisture for longer, so you’ll need less water.

Always water deeply to encourage deep root growth. And five days to one week after watering, check soil for moisture retention. Dig down beside the plant (but make sure you don’t disturb the roots) to a depth of about 16″. If the soil is very dry, you need to water more often. Remember that newly planted roses should be watered daily.

The best time to water your roses is early in the day and this avoids leaving wet leaves at night which can encourage disease. You can use an irrigation system and this will avoid getting the leaves wet and give the roots a good drink.


The main ingredient in most off-the-shelf fertilizers are as follows:

  • Nitrogen
    Encourages leaf and stem growth, and promotes a rich, green healthy plant
  • Phosphorus
    Promotes root growth, flower growth, and photosynthesis
  • Potassium
    Builds resistance to disease, and regulates metabolism, making them hardy and vibrant.

Organic fertilizers are generally made from natural ingredients such as bonemeal, cottonseed meal, and fish emulsion, while the non-organic fertilizers are made of mineral salts. Fertilizers come in granule, powder, crystal, and liquid form.

Slow release fertilizers are convenient granules that need infrequent application, sometimes only once a year will suffice. Like feeding a lawn, always make sure you read the product label so that you don not over fertilize your roses.

Sprays, Pests, and Diseases

The susceptibility of roses to disease and pests makes it a good idea to practice preventive measures and encourage stronger plants in the long run. Maintain good garden hygiene by removing damaged leaves from the plant and the soil below.

Water early in the morning to prevent mildew and fungus. Treat any pest infestation immediately with an organic or chemical insecticide.

How to Prune

Pruning can intimidate new rose growers. It just seems wrong to cut away new, healthy growth. But pruning is necessary for future growth and flowering and you need to remove new growth in oder to control the plants size, increase productivity and to keep it healthy.

Left unpruned, most roses will become lanky with poor flowers. Pruning stimulates new growth and all you need to do is cut a 1/4 inch above the bud at a 45 degree angle. Always slope the cut away from the bud where you want the new stem to grow.

In the UK the best time to prune roses is early springtime. And also make sure to remove any dead or damaged stems.

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