Caring for Your Roses
It’s a common misconception that roses are high maintenance, flouncy divas. Provided you follow a few simple steps, these tousled treasures will have no trouble blooming spectacularly. Welcome to Sproutl’s month by month guide to keeping your roses in check all year long.
Everything you need to know for the months of June, July and August.
Treat newly planted and patio roses to a generous drink at least once a week, being careful not to splash the flowers or foliage. Keep feeding these voracious beauts every fortnight and you’ll soon be rewarded with masses of rumpled petals and heady scents.
Tie in any new growth that emerges on your climbing roses to give the plant a good shape, protect it over the winter and make space for more flowers to form next year. Tying in young shoots is a cinch but, if you leave it too long, they’ll become tough and woody and much harder to handle.
Deadheading involves regularly removing dead or fading flowers from a plant. It paves the way for fresh blooms and keeps your garden looking gorg. For multi-flowered roses use clippers to snip past-it flowers off each cluster. Once all the blooms in the cluster are spent, remove the whole stem, down to the last strong leaf. For single-flower roses, take off the flower head and around 15cm of stem, to just above a healthy leaf.
Hazy late August days are a good time to give repeat-flowering roses another high potash liquid feed to encourage a final flush of ruffled petal joy.
Everything you need to know for the months of September, October and November.
Got some well-established roses in a windy spot? Give them a quick haircut now. By trimming around 30cm off the top, you’ll protect them from damage by winter storms.
Go for it now if you’re planning to transplant your mature roses. Dig up the rootball and rehome it in a new spot - ideally somewhere sunny and sheltered, with rich, well-draining soil.
Bare root planting
Late autumn is the best time to plant bare-root roses, whilst the soil’s still warm(ish) and full of moisture. Planting bare-root roses now will give them a head start in the race to put down strong roots. First one to bloom is the winner.
If the mulch you spread around your roses earlier in the year has disappeared, tuck them up under a second layer, to keep them snug as the colder months draw in.
Everything you need to know for the months of December, January and February.
Your roses will be in full-on hibernation mode by this point in the year. Thankfully they’re hardy plants and won’t need any frost protection. So you can cosy up indoors and agonise over which blushing beauties to put centre stage in your garden next year.
After pruning your climbing roses, train individual branches by tying them to a wall or trellis (or even up a tree) to create the bones of a display that will be overflowing with knock-out blooms come summer. Top tip: Gain extra points for stems tied horizontally - these are likely to produce way more flowers. No train = no gain.
Pruning Take your loppers to established bush roses and reduce them down to 10 - 15cm from the base of the plant. It may seem drastic, but hold firm. This ‘Oh god, what have I done?’ moment will reward you with neat, tangle-free growth as spring gets underway. Promise.
Top tip: Stand back once in a while to make sure your rose still has a balanced shape...
Evict any rogue weeds you don’t want around the base of your roses. Gather up messy, fallen leaves and stick unwanted debris on the compost heap. Voila. The ground is clear. Just in time for feeding and mulching in March.
Everything you need to know for the months of March, April and May.
When the first buds start to break on your roses, go on a feeding frenzy. A high nitrogen fertiliser applied around the base (to roughly the width of the plant) will give these thorny gluttons a welcome boost, encouraging top-quality growth and knock-your-socks-off blooms.
Mulch it, baby. When feeding time is over, add 1-2 inches of soil improver or peat-free garden compost around the base of your roses, again out to the width of the plant. Well-rotted manure or composted straw or bark would also do the trick. Mulching is essential as it helps the soil retain moisture, suppresses weeds (win) and gives an injection of all-important nutrients.
Patio roses are generally small and self-contained specimens that are perfect for pots or small spaces. May is the best time to order and plant them out, ready to be enjoyed on hazy summer days over a long drink.
Bare root roses
March is your last chance to plant out bare root roses. Soak the roots in water overnight to rehydrate them. Weed the spot where you want them to grow and dig a hole big enough to fit the roots. Break up the soil at the bottom and add some well-rotted compost or soil improver before nestling the plant inside. Cover up the roots with soil, firm the whole lot in and douse it with a generous glug of water.
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