The Rose is one of the World’s most adored and favourite flowers. Late Winter through Early Spring is traditionally considered the best time to pamper, plant and prepare garden sites for new Roses. But Roses are one of the traditional ‘Love Flowers’. In the Southern Hemisphere many container-grown Roses are given as gifts at Valentines’ day. How should they be handled?
Container-grown Roses can be planted almost any time. Make sure to avoid root damage or much root disturbance at the time of transplanting. Water them in well and continue to water regularly in the weeks ahead until they are well established. If the season is too dry and hot to plant right now, a container-grown Rose will live happily in its container for many months provided it is regularly fed and watered plus remains in at least morning sunshine outdoors. It won’t be long until Autumn planting conditions create the perfect opportunity for planting your Rose. Here are some important things to consider when planting Roses at any time of the year.
Check to be sure that the Roses you wish to grow are appropriate for your region and particular micro-climate. Roses are quite variable and it is possible that some cultivars, species and varieties may not grow well in your particular area. Always buy from a reliable source. Make sure that what you purchase is suitable in its colour, form, size and climate range to your garden. If the Rose has been a gift, and you are not sure of its heritage or reliability, give it the best possible position and after care so that it has every opportunity to grow well in your garden. Then if it dies, you know that you gave it every opportunity not to. Roses enjoy an airy and open environment in full sunshine or at least strong partial sun. If the Rose is to be grown in a container make sure that it is of generous size with good drainage holes. Plastic or glazed ceramic containers are best. Terracotta pots and wooden tubs are acceptable provided they are internallly lined with plastic to stops excssive water evaporation.
Prepare planting beds very thoroughly. There is only one chance to get it right! Roses must have good drainage and must never continually sit with ‘wet feet’. Roses prefer enriched loamy soils that drain well but retain ample moisture. Improve drainage with the addition of Gypsum Lime. Add mature compost, well-aged manure and peat to enrich and improve and build-up moisture-retentive humus.
Plant correctly! Dig a generously deep and wide planting hole that provides plenty of room for the roots to spread out without cramping. Before planting, carefully examine the Rose plant. Trim back any damaged, dead or diseased old growth. On bare root plants trim back any broken or long roots. To ensure that bare-root Roses have not dried out, soak them in mildly warm water with a little liquid plant food added for an hour or so before planting. When planting never add fresh ‘hot’ manures or caustic chemical fertilisers into the planting hole immediately before planting. This might contact and burn the emerging roots. Plant firmly with the graft below ground level. Water in immediately and thoroughly.
Prune courageously! Roses usually respond much better to a good strong pruning. This stimulates healthy new growth. Use clean, sharp secateurs. Cut cleanly above an outward facing bud at a slant facing away from the bud. This way rain and watering will drain away from the emerging shoot. Leave three to five healthy canes/stems per bush. Prune Mid to Late Winter in mild climates; Early Spring in very cold climates experiencing late Spring frosts. When in doubt about how and when to best prune, ask an experienced Rose-loving Gardener, research in books or the Internet, attend a pruning demonstration or contact the local Rose Society.
Feed regularly and sensibly: little and often. Established bushes are best fed right after pruning, and at regular intervals. Usually about once a month. Avoid feeding after Late Summer. Both chemical and organic fertiliser work well with Roses. It is fine to vary and mix the feeding between chemical Rose Fertilisers and organic mature compost and enriched manures. Always water first before applying fertiliser of any sort. Never feed on to dry soil! Rose roots only absorb nutrients when in a water solution. If the shrub were to be dry-fed over dry ground and roots, when the shrub is watered, the soluble chemical salts might be so strong and drawn up so quickly as to burn the roots causing chemical shock.
Mulch deeply and generously. Roses prefer a cool root-run which generous mulching provides. Shallow mulching soon disappears. Best mulches include well-aged manure, mature compost, and mushroom compost, or very well-washed and composted seaweed. In arid, dry, hot and/or windy sites heavy bark chip can be added over the top of the organic mulch to further cool and shade the soil; keeping it more evenly moist.
Watch for disease and prevent it immediately. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of ‘cure’ because once the Rose becomes infected it is always much harder to get rid of it and the bush will suffer. Keep a diary of fertilisers and sprays; record the date they were applied and how effective they were. This way over time it will be possible to work out a special personalised yearly routine that best suits your special micro-climate.
Remain busy in Autumn. No slacking off! The best Roses always benefit from proper Autumn care. Make sure the beds are cleaned, tidied and thoroughly weeded. Prune back any damaged, tall or weak over-growth especially if bushes might be subjected to wintry winds. Make sure all Climbers and Ramblers are securely tied to their arbour, support or trellis. Prune out old spent canes and weak growth on Ramblers. Standard Roses must be securely staked and tied to sturdy supports. Autumn is an ideal time to dig new Rose beds and prepare planting holes sites while the soil is warm and workable and the weather remains fine. Fertilisers and enriching soil additives are best worked into the planting bed or planting holes well before the planting date so they can ‘cure’ and disperse over several months prior to planting.
Roses are meant for sharing. Roses are one of the World’s most endeared ‘love’ flowers. Give some to a lonely neighbour or share them with someone you love! Bring flowers indoors to admire and cherish. Plant some in a spot where others can admire and appreciate them; their beauty can enhance your community and neighbourhood. Perhaps enter some of your best blooms in a Rose Show or Competition. Be celebrational and proud of your blooms and your achievements and let others see your pride by sharing.
Love your Roses. Roses are one of Nature’s most beautiful Gifts from God. The pleasure that beautiful Roses give to you and others deserves all the love and attention that you can give them.
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