Granny Mouse is blessed with many beautiful flowers and none so beautiful as their rose bushes. Guests often tell our team how much they admire the display and say that they are pretty intimidated and couldn’t imagine producing such blooms on home turf.
However, take it from us, roses aren’t as high maintenance as they’re made out to be. Modern rose bushes are really tough and much easier to grow than ever before and seldom need more loving care than most other flowers or shrubs.
The general rule is to keep your rose bushes in a sunny spot and make sure that the soil is well drained. Fertilize regularly, water evenly and prune before the summer kicks in… and, if you’re still a little daunted by the prospect of producing home grown roses, here are 10 tips from our Granny Mouse pros:
1. Know your roots
You can purchase roses already potted in soil or as dormant bare-root plants. Each type has its benefits. If you’re a novice rose grower, container roses are a great way to go because they are easy to plant and establish quickly. They can also be purchased at local nurseries throughout the growing season, allowing you to plant them when climate conditions are ideal. For first-time rose growers, a potted rose may be worth the additional expense if you can find the specific rose variety you want to grow in your garden
2. Don’t overdo it
There are numerous classes of roses, ranging from micro-miniatures to grandifloras and from groundcovers to climbing roses, with some classes containing hundreds of different varieties. While it may be tempting to fill your rose garden with a wide assortment, you are likely to end up with a disorderly array. A few well-chosen plants will give you far more satisfaction than dozens of mismatched plants that don’t work in harmony. Ask your local nursery for some advice as they are experts and can tell you which plants are likely to suit your garden and climate. They can also tell you which roses are best planted in the garden and which are ideal for containers.
3. Find the right spot
For the best show of flowers and the healthiest plants, rose bushes should receive six to eight hours of sunlight each day. In especially hot climates, roses do best when they are protected from the hot afternoon sun. In cold climates, planting a rose bush next to a south- or west-facing fence or wall can help minimize winter freeze damage. Roses also thrive when planted in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. In heavy clay soil, mix in compost, peat moss, and other organic matter to improve drainage. In lean, sandy soils, adding compost will help to retain moisture near the plants’ roots.
4. Time it right
The best time to plant roses is in the spring after the last frost or in the autumn at least six weeks before the average first frost in your area. This gives the roots enough time to burrow into the soil before the plants go dormant over the winter.
Bare-root roses are typically available only in early spring and should be planted soon after you bring them home. Roses growing in containers give you more flexibility in planting time and can go into the ground whenever climate conditions are suitable. For the best results, plant roses on a calm, cloudy day. Try not to plant on a hot, sunny day or during a summer heat wave.
5. Dig deep
The size of the hole in which you plant your roses is one of the key factors when it comes to getting them off to a good start. Whether you are planting bare-root or container roses, you need to dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s roots and to allow for good drainage. Add a little bone meal to encourage good root growth.
6. Feed often
To produce an impressive show of flowers, remember to fertilize regularly. Garden magazines, your local nursery and retailers will be able to tell you which are the best fertilizers for your particular roses and conditions.
7. Water wisely
Roses do best when soil moisture is kept uniform throughout the growing season. The amount and frequency of watering will depend on your soil type and climate. Roses growing in sandy soils will need more watering than those in heavier clay soils. Hot, dry, and windy conditions will also parch roses quickly. How you water is as important as the frequency. Using a soaker hose is recommended so you deliver water directly to the roots and avoid the leaves. Alternatively, you can install an irrigation system. Many have timers to ensure regular and uniform watering.
8. Prune like a pro
This is probably what scares inexperienced gardeners the most. But, take it from us, it is almost impossible to kill a rose bush by over pruning it. However, it is best to go easy as most modern roses don’t need as much pruning as most people think. The simplest rule to follow is to prune established rose bushes in early spring so they can get off to a good start. Remove all dead and damaged branches (any that look brown), then cut back a third to a half of the previous year’s growth until you find healthy, white centers inside the cane. Each cut should be 5 to 10mm above a node.
Use clean sharp secateurs and avoid tearing and splitting branches as this creates open wounds that are susceptible to fungi. Take care of your secateurs by washing them in soap and water after use and sterilizing them in a mild bleach solution.
9. Ban the bugs
The best way to prevent rose diseases is to choose disease-resistant varieties from the outset. The most common diseases and bugs with which a rose grower has to contend are black spot (identified as black or brown spots on the leaves), powdery mildew and insects such as beetles and aphids. The latter can often be dealt with by simply hosing down the bush. However, chat to your nursery or advisor in your gardening store if you’d like to spray them with an insecticide to make sure you have the right one and know how to mix and apply it.