How to Care for Roses

The flower of romance 

Written by Natalie Anstey

The rose is the perfect plant for a romantic English garden. Roses get a bad rep for being difficult to care for, but in reality they are a truly hardy and must-have plant for every garden. Roses are easy to look after and create a dazzling display with heavenly scent from summer through to fall and beyond! Whether you love the cottage garden favorites that are English roses, want to create an impenetrable hedge to keep the pesky deer out, or want to cover a structure in your garden such as a shed or archway - there is a rose for everyone! 

Many roses repeat flowering, which means that normally they flower twice between spring and fall bringing more color and drama to your garden throughout the season! The season will last even longer if the flowers are not pruned off after the second flush and are allowed to create hips bringing winter interest and fruit that the birds (and humans) will enjoy through the winter. What’s not to love!

Botanical Name: Rosa spp.
Common Name(s):Rose                                                          
Plant TypeWoody, perennial shrub
Place of Origin:China 
Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full sun 
Watering Schedule:Every 7 days during growth season
Seasonality: May to April, September to October 
Bloom Time: Spring through autumn
Toxicity:Safe for cats and dogs

ROSE LIGHT REQUIREMENTS:

Different roses require different amounts of sunlight but no species of roses will grow in full shade. Aim for 4 hours sunlight a day in the growing season (spring-fall) and any more is a bonus!

ROSE WATER REQUIREMENTS:

From spring to fall, roses do need to be watered but do not fall into the trap of watering too little. Roses enjoy a deep watering (about a watering can full) once a week. The soil should be moist to a depth of 15-20 inches and water at the base of the rose for the best results. A good tip is to water roses in the morning as this will allow for any moisture on the leaves to dry off throughout the day - cold and wet leaves are often a breeding ground for disease such as blackspot, so this will avoid any unnecessary moisture when the sun goes down!

ROSE TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS:

In the right conditions roses are indestructible so it is best to do your research before planting a rose. Roses do not tolerate temperatures below 32℉ and are best transplanted somewhere more protected for the winter. You can cover them with horticultural fleece/straw in the winter to protect them from frost. As with all plants, heat can also affect roses. If the leaves or flowers are becoming brown and brittle maybe think about moving your rose to a more sheltered position. Likewise, if the rose is not thriving maybe think about transplanting into a sunnier spot.

ROSE HUMIDITY REQUIREMENTS:

Roses typically enjoy moderate humidity, not too dry and not too humid. When exposed too humid environments, it could affect their leaves and flower petals. So try to keep humidity levels on the lower side to avoid disease. 

ROSE SOIL:

Roses are tough and can thrive in the most difficult of conditions. When planting roses, dig a hole about twice as wide and deep of the pot or bare root and fill with a good quality compost. Gardeners also swear by sprinkling a product called mycorrhizal fungi on the roots or in the planting hole. Mycorrhizal fungi are fungi that draw up water so by sprinkling these on the roots it will ensure your rose gets the best start it possibly can and the roots develop quickly.

ROSE FERTILIZER:

Use a slow release granular rose feed. Very often liquid feeds are used but in the long run a granular rose feed is much better. Think of it this way - a liquid feed is like drinking an espresso and expecting to be full all day... It's much better to have a bowl of oats. Your roses will thank you for it! Roses should be fed in March and again in June after the first flush of flowers. Nothing could be simpler, just a handful of rose feed around the base and that’s it!

ROSE REPOTTING:

Rose roots do need space to spread out so if planting in a pot make sure it is a pot 18-21 inches deep and wide. Plant in a mixture of multipurpose compost and repotting compost - although specialist rose compost will work just as well! As with all plants that are grown in pots, roses do require a little extra care. Make sure they do not dry out and the soil should be replenished every 2-3 years for the best results! The best time to do this is during the dormant season - so early spring or late fall is probably the best as the rose should be either dormant or preparing for dormancy. When preparing for dormancy, the rose is put through the least amount of stress when repotting.

ROSE PROPAGATION:

Propagation can be hit or miss but always worth a try! If you are moving house or if a stem snaps off unexpectedly, here are some tips on how to propagate and save your roses: 

First, prepare your pot. Use potting compost along with vermiculite or perlite with a breakdown of 75% compost to 25% perlite/vermiculite. Choose a healthy stem with 3-5 leaves that is about 5-10 inches long and cut at a 45 degree angle using clean tools. If the stem has more leaves than this, remove them on the lower part of the stem leaving 3-5 at the top of the stem and remove all flowers and hips. At the bottom of the stem, make 3 snips upwards of an inch long and dip the base in a rooting hormone (this step is not required but yields the best results).

Now you can plant the stem in your pot, water and cover with a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse. Keep your cutting in a warm and sheltered spot and don’t let it dry out. Soon roots will form once the risk of frost has passed it can be planted outside!

ROSE DISEASES & PESTS:

Like any other plant, Roses have their fair share of problems. So if you're wondering what to look out for with your rose plants, here are a few common problems: 

01. Blackspot - This is a very common problem and is an airborne fungus that spreads from garden to garden and LOVES humid conditions. Black spot is exactly as it sounds - dark purple or even yellow patches that cover the leaves and leaves the rose looking sad and unhealthy. At the first sign of blackspot remove the affected leaves and spray with a fungicide.

02. Powdery Mildew - Fear not, this is not an insect or mold invasion. Powdery mildew is a white coating/fungus and is a sign that the rose does not have sufficient air circulation or water and is very common with young roses as the roots cannot take up enough water. In this instance, remove the infected leaves and keep the rose well watered and/or increase air circulation.

03. Rust - Again this is an airborne fungus that spreads from plant to plant and loves humidity. It shows up on leaves as little orange powdery circles that darken over time. Remove the affected leaves and spray with a fungicide.

04. Aphids - Aphids feast on newly formed buds that are full of juicy sap. Aphids are easy to see on the buds as clear green insects and the buds will wilt and look dehydrated. Remove by hand or spray with insecticide/neem oil.

05. Thrips - Thrips are also known as Thunder Bugs and are prevalent in the summer. They look like black dots and again they love to munch on fresh rose buds. The rose buds will look distorted and almost burnt with black edges. A little tricky to remove by hand, so use neem oil or an insecticide.

06. Spider Mites - Spider Mites are even trickier to spot but leave a trail of destruction gorging on leaves and buds. Look for webbing on the plant along with unusual golden colored leaves. Again use neem oil or an insecticide.

TOXICITY:

Roses are not toxic, in fact rose hips can be used in many recipes such as rosehip oil, rosehip jam and even cakes and perfume..just watch out for the thorns when picking them!

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