top of page

Roses - How to Grow & Look After

Tips for Growing Roses


Choose the right rose for where it is being planted




















Tips for Growing Roses

Choose the right rose for where it is being planted


Plant bar root roses from August - December - container roses can be panted anytime. 


Most roses like to grow in full sun


Roses need rich soil that is kept moist but does not get waterlogged 


Make sure you water roses at the base try not to get foliage wet if using a hose at that can encourage disease to sit on the leaves, such as mildew and water regularly 


Make sure you deadhead at this encourages new flowers but in late summer you might want to not do this as then rose hips will form and this can give be attractive in an autumn/winter garden


Remove any spindly stems as they will be weak and this will encourage new growth


Mulch roses in spring and winter with some good compost and then add some bark chipping’s 

In spring before you add the bark feed the roses with some potash which encourages better flower heads and also some fertiliser to give them a good feed - this could be rose fertiliser or blood and bone, sheep pellets what ever you want to use.  Water in then cover with bark.


Prune roses annually to promote healthy growth.  When you do this is subject to debate.  Some gardeners like to do this in autumn so they have a tidy garden but I like to do it in spring.  My thought is that by leaving them in tack over winter they have time to preserve some reserves to help them through winter.  I start to prune my roses from late winter to early spring.  I am happy for them to have new growth before I cut back as this shows me that they are healthy and growing.  It is up to you, what ever suits you are your garden the best.


















Deadheading Roses


What is deadheading?  Deadheading is removing the faded, drooping flowers once they are past their best so they don’t put their energy into forming rose hips to produce more flower heads, which is what we want during the growing season.  If you don’t deadhead the faded flowers make the rose look messy and can lead to fungal infections.


How to Deadhead


If you have single flowered roses, simply snip of the spent flower where it joins the stem as you probably have other buds or flowers coming from the main stem.  Once all buds have flowered you can then make a cut about 10cm further down the stem where the stem is thick and just above a leaf.


When you have a cluster of rose flowers just snip out the flowers that have faded and leave the rest until they have all faded.  By snipping out the single flower it prolongs the life of that group of flowers.  Once the cluster has totally finished cut the stem back about 10-15cm where the stem is thicker just above a leaf.  By doing this ensures a thicker shoot and will carry more flowers.  If you cut it high you will get a more spindly stem and this will produce less flowers and be weaker.













How to Look After Roses Through the Seasons




September - Time to feed your roses, giving them a boost of energy for the growing season.   Feed with good organic matter such as compost, manure, seaweed, blood and bone, sheep pellets, worm tea. or if you prefer you can purchase fertiliser such as  Yates Thrive Granular Rose Food or what ever your preferred brand is.  Once you have fed and watered your roses top them up with some mulch such as bark, pea straw, or my preferred option Lucern.  Add some potash to help with flowering.

This is the time to sow some companion flowers if you have the space.  I like to add Cottage Garden mix which can be bought from various seed retailers such as Garden Post, Kings Seeds etc.  The companion plantings then attract beneficial insects who loves to eat aphids so a win, win not having to use chemicals.  Flowers such as  Phacelia, Honesty, Queen Anne’s Lace, Cornflowers, Bergamot are nectar rich so bring in the birds who also will eat aphids.


October - Time to get weeding around the base of the roses otherwise all the fertiliser you have put on will only make for strong weeds and will be difficult to get out if you leave them!   Check your roses all over for any signs of black spot or rush and remove and dispose of (in your rubbish bin not compost) any leaves.  If you do have a break out of aphids I get some soapy water (dishwashing liquid) and gently wash the aphids off.  If you prefer to use the non organic method you can use some fungicide to help control them.


November - Water roses if they need it, preferably in the morning before it get too warm and make sure you water at the base and not on the leaves as this can lead to disease to sit on the leaves such as mildew.  If you need to add more mulch do so.  This is a time that you can get an aphid infestation.  You can give them a good blast with your hose to wash them off just be a little careful how you do this and support the buds with the hand you are not using for the hose.  This also helps to deter spider mites who loves dry conditions.  Soapy water or a garlic spray or neem oil can be used to get rid of them.  Please be aware that if you use insecticide this will also kill off any beneficial insects such as Hover flies and Ladybirds which happily feed on aphids and it will also deter any birds that feed on the aphids so depleting natural life within the garden.




December - Time to sit back and smell the roses!  Enjoy all your hard work and pick those beautiful blooms and bring some indoors to pop into a vase!  Plenty of deadheading to be done which will help bring on more buds and blooms.  Apply liquid fertiliser/tea every two weeks.  Seaweed or fish based sprays are good and those pesky aphids don’t like them!  Make sure the soil is not drying out which it can easily do at this time of year, remember water at the base of the rose not spray on the foliage.  It’s a good time to feed with blood and bone or sheep pellets, check your mulch and top up if needed as this will help keep the moisture in but remember to keep the mulch away from the stem to avoid collar rot. (Collar rot is caused by the fungal pathogen, which thrives in damp conditions where organic matter on the soil surface is allowed to contact the stem).  Also a good time to had a good sprinkling of potash which will encourage more blooms.


January - Keep the watering up, remember at the roots only not the foliage!  Two to three deep watering is better than a quick sprinkle which only encourages the fibrous roots to the surface which you don’t want.  Keep deadheading and once the flowers have finished prune back about 10-15cm just above a leaf and where the stem is reasonably thick.  This will encourage new growth and more flowering.  Keep feeding liquid tea every week.


February - Keep deadheading and watering.  If the roots dry out this makes the roses susceptible to mildew along with wet leaves.  Best to water in the morning, if you water at night water can stay on the leaves.  When you get hot and humid conditions this can bring on fungal disease such as black spot and mildew.  Spray with natural sprays.  Mildew spray - 1 tsp washing up liquid, 1 tsp of baking soda and 1tsp of fish fertiliser if you have mixed together with 2ltr of water.  For blackspot try a mix of 50% milk and 50% water.




March - Growth and flowers are coming to an end.  Just keep them mulched and only water when necessary.  Time to slow down and take it easy for both you and the roses!  No need to dead head any more.  By not dead heading you will send signs to the rose that they need to go into a dormant period.  Leave them unpruned and enjoy the hips.  No more feeding now, time for the roses to rest.  


April - This is the time of year you can take cuttings.  Take more cuttings than you need as success rate can vary and make sure you label you cuttings.  Add more potash as this will help strengthen the canes and enhance flowering come summer.  If you want you can have a light cut back of spindly stems and also deadhead.    This is also a good time of year to thing about preparing new beds or making space for new roses.


May - Time to prepare the roses for winter.  Give them a good mulch at the base remembering not to having it touching the stem.  If you have found that your roses have grown more than you thought, this is a good time to move them.  Roses need good space around them for airflow, if they are too close together this can make them susceptible to fungal diseases.  If you are going to move your rose, you need to prune them back, roughly two thirds and dig them out carefully and you can trim back any long fibrous roots and plant them into your prepared area, watering them in well.




June - This is the time of year that new bare root roses arrive into nurseries and garden centres.  So have a good look and choose wisely!  


July - This is generally the time when most gardeners prune roses as it is the time they are dormant and storing energy.  There is good reason to do so, as by pruning back then the branches don’t get broken in strong winds or snow and damage the plant.  Plus it’s a job out the way come spring.  I generally choose to prune either late winter or early spring just as the rose is coming back to life.  I feel it gives it a chance to start on its new buds and you can see more easily where you want to prune.  


August - Time to plant those new roses digging them in well with plenty of manure or compost and give them a good feed of blood and bone or sheep pellets or what ever you wish to use.

Also don’t forget to label them or at least make a note where and what you have planted.    Now is the time to give all your roses a good feed of compost, manure etc, plus some potash to give them a good start for spring.





















Pruning Roses


The reason we prune roses is to promote new strong growth and remove any thin, twiggy stems as they are not likely to produce good growing and flowering potential.  We also prune to keep the rose a suitable size and shape.


The best time to prune your standard garden roses is late winter early spring just around the new growth starts.  If you do it in spring it is easier to see the new growth and prune accordingly.  If you have climbers you can start giving a gentle trim late summer early autumn and then again in late winter early spring if necessary.    If you have ramblers they usually only flower once and then they can be pruned after flowering in summer.


Depending on they type of rose you have will dictate how hard or light you prune.  The modern rose can be pruned back harder, where as an old rose needs light pruning.


Roses are very tough and your can rarely do any damage to them that time can not fix, so be bold and get those secateurs out! 


To prune you need a good sharp secateurs and possibly a pruning saw or loppers for big thick stems.  When I am pruning I always where thick clothing and aways long sleeves as the thorns can be vicious!  I always where gloves, I have some nice long gloves that come up to my elbow.  This is not a job you do in short and t-shirt!  I often where sunglasses as I am always pocking my self in the eye with a twig or branch!  This all sounds as if you are going into battle but it’s not that bad, you just need to be careful when dealing with rose thorns. 


Take a jar of disinfectant (I use methylated spirit) to dip your secateurs into after pruning each rose.   By doing this you make sure that any disease or infection is not passed on to the next rose.

Before you start cutting stand back and look at your rose/roses and decide what size and shape you want to cut back to. 


1.    Remove any damaged or dead stems.


2.    Remove any stems that are growing towards the middle of the rose, you want to keep an 

    an open shape.    


3.    Take out any cross over stems and any thin, twiggy stems, they are not going grow             strong.  If the rose is very thick in the middle try and thin it out which will allow more air to         circulate and help prevent disease.


4.    Make your cuts just above a leaf or a bud and cut on an angle as this allows water to run         off rather than go into the cut if you cut straight across and potentially cause infections to         occur.


5.    Remove any old leaves that look weathered or diseased.  Remove any debris on the 

    ground to help prevent fungal spores staying in the ground.  


6.    Give the roses a good feed by adding a good amount of compost or manure, some blood

    and bone, sheep pellets etc and some pot ash and mulch.  The mulching will help aid any fundal spores getting on your roses. 

    Or if you some manufactured fertiliser of your choosing. 

bottom of page