Van Meuwen
How to Grow Roses

How to plant and grow roses


Growing roses is easier than you might think and with such a variety available, there is one for every garden situation. Whether you have a patio rose, climbing rose or rose bush, this guide will help you with every aspect of care, from planting to pruning roses.



Types of Roses

ExampleRose typeHabitFlowerSuitable for
Rose Black Baccara Hybrid Tea roseBushyLarge, many-petalled flowers in a range of colours, often with fragrance. The flowers are borne singly or in threes at the tips of stems throughout the summer and autumn. These roses are the ones normally used by florists. Containers, borders
Rose Champagne MomentFloribunda rose Bushy Produce flowers in clusters at the tips of stems. Each flower within the cluster opens at different times giving a long-lasting display throughout the summer and autumn. Many varieties are fragrant.Containers, borders
<Rose Bonica Shrub rose BushyNormally larger than hybrid teas and floribundas. Flowers can be single to double and are usually borne in clusters. Modern varieties are repeat flowering whereas old varieties will produce one heavy flush of flowers in early summer. They are usually very fragrant. Borders, hedging
Rose Masquerade Climbing rose Upright, vigorous, stiff-stemmed plants Very diverse - there are a range of flower types available, many with fragrance. Wall, fence, pergola
<Rambling Rose Collection Rambling rose Vigorous climber with lax and flexible shoots Flowers are single or double and are borne in clusters on short shoots from old wood. Flowering normally occurs in one heavy flush during the summer. Many varieties are fragrant. Wall, fence, pergola, growing into a tree
Miniature Rose Miniature rose Very compact with small leaves and flowers. Produce clusters of single or double flowers in flushes throughout the summer and autumn. They are rarely fragrant. Containers, window boxes, border edges


Where to grow roses

Roses like to be grown in a sunny position that is sheltered from strong winds. They don’t thrive in the shade or if crowded by other plants. A well-drained soil is important - roses will suffer in wet soils. If you have a heavy clay soil, dig in some organic matter and coarse grit to improve the drainage. Even if your soil is well drained it is best to improve it with organic matter such as well rotted manure, compost or recycled green waste before planting. Mix in some slow-release fertiliser (a specific rose food is best) as roses are heavy feeders. If the soil hasn’t been cultivated recently, aim to dig the soil to about 45cm (18 inches) deep.


Bareroot roses

Our roses are supplied as bareroot plants, which simply means they have been lifted from the ground during their dormant season and will arrive as a bare shrub with exposed roots. This may look unimpressive at first but once planted they will soon start to send out roots and grow!

If you have to delay planting then keep your rose plants somewhere cool but frost-free. If planting is heavily delayed it may be best to ‘heel-in’ your rose. This simply means to dig a trench in ordinary garden soil and place the roots inside. Cover the roots with soil, firm in and water well.


Planting roses

The best time to plant roses is during their dormant season, throughout autumn and from late winter to early spring. It’s best not to plant them when the ground is frozen in the middle of winter. Soak the roots of your bareroot rose for 2-3 hours prior to planting. Dig a planting hole that is wide enough to accommodate the roots comfortably and deep enough so that the bud union (the point where the rose has been grafted on to the rootstock) rests at soil level. The bud union should be visible as a bulge at the base of the shoots. Position the rose in the centre of the hole and check the depth is correct. Laying a bamboo cane across the top of the hole and lining it up next to the stem is a good way to check you have the correct depth. Spread the roots out and backfill around them with the remaining soil. Tread the rose in firmly but not too hard. Make sure you water the rose thoroughly and keep the soil moist, especially in hot sunny spells. Do not mulch your rose in its first year.


Planting a climbing rose

Climbing roses will require some support, normally in the form of horizontal wires spaced 45cm (18 inches) apart up the wall or fence and positioned about 7cm away from the wall to allow air circulation. You can also grow climbing roses over a rose arch, which is very effective. Walls and other solid structures often cause the soil at their base to be dry so place your climbing rose 30-45cm (12-18 inches) away from the wall or fence at a 45 degree angle. This will enable it to receive sufficient moisture. Planting is the same as for other roses, with the bud union at soil level. After firming in, use canes to guide the shoots towards the support.




Growing roses in containers

If you have heavy clay soil or just want to brighten up your patio you can successfully grow roses in containers. Containers need to be at least 30-45cm (12-18 inches) deep for bush roses; miniature roses can be grown in pots as small as 25cm (10 inches) deep. Fill your chosen container with loam-based compost such as John Innes No. 3 and plant out as for planting in the ground (see above). Roses in containers will also need a top-dressing of rose fertiliser each spring. Once they begin to flower, your container roses will benefit from a regular liquid feed with a high potash fertiliser (such as tomato fertiliser).


Fertilising roses

Roses are greedy feeders and will need regular fertilising to encourage healthy plants. In the spring sprinkle a handful of slow-release fertiliser around the base of your rose, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Lightly fork it into the soil, keeping it clear of the stems. After their first year, mulch your roses each spring by spreading an 8cm layer of well rotted manure, compost or recycled green waste around the base, taking care to keep a 10cm (4 inch) collar free of mulch around the stem to prevent the bark rotting. To find out how to feed patio roses see ‘Growing roses in containers’, above.


Pruning roses

Pruning rose bushes is very easy if you follow these simple steps! The reason for pruning roses is to encourage new vigorous shoots to replace older, weaker ones and to produce an attractive overall shape. It is helpful to know what type of rose you have before pruning - all our products state whether they are hybrid tea roses, floribunda roses, shrub roses or climbing and rambling roses.

• When to prune roses

Roses are normally pruned in their dormant season, between autumn and early spring although during severe winters its best to wait until late February or March. Most newly planted roses should be pruned hard after planting, to 8cm above ground level. The only exception to this is climbing and rambling roses which should be allowed to grow freely.

• How to prune roses

It’s a good idea to wear thick gloves when pruning roses and to use clean, sharp secateurs. When pruning, make a cut at an angle above a bud, with the cut facing in the direction the new shoot will grow. All roses need to have any dead, damaged or diseased shoots removed first, cutting them back to healthy wood.

• Hybrid Tea roses and Floribunda roses

These modern roses are the most commonly available and flower on new or current season’s wood, so can be cut back quite hard each year. After removing any dead, damaged or diseased shoots, thin out weak growth or crossing shoots to leave a well balanced framework. If the bush is very crowded then remove some of the old shoots at the base to open up the rose bush. For Hybrid Tea roses such as ‘Diamond Jubilee’ shorten the remaining shoots to 4 or 6 buds from the base (about 15cm or 6 inches). For Floribunda roses such as ‘Queen Elizabeth’ shorten the main shoots to about 30cm (12 inches) from the ground and reduce any remaining side shoots by about two-thirds of their length.

• Shrub roses

Shrub roses such as 'Charles de Mills', ground cover roses and old-fashioned roses flower on wood that is 2 or more years old so require little pruning. Only prune out dead, diseased or damaged stems. Mature specimens will benefit from having a few older stems removed each winter, cutting right down to the base to encourage new vigorous growth.

• Climbing roses

Climbing roses such as ‘Golden Showers’ require only minimal pruning and are pruned in late autumn or winter after flowering has finished. For the first 2 years, no pruning should be carried out - only remove any dead, diseased or weak, twiggy growth. The most important aspect of care is to train the shoots along their supports to ensure an even coverage of the wall or fence and encourage flowering. Once your climbing rose has established, continue to annually prune out any dead, damaged, diseased or twiggy growth in late autumn. Also prune any flowered side-shoots back to about two-thirds of their length. Do not prune the main shoots unless they have outgrown their allotted space, in which case prune as necessary to reduce the overall size. As your climbing rose ages, the base may become bare. To renew growth at the base, cut back one or two of the old main shoots to within 30cm (12 inches) of the ground. New vigorous growth should emerge in the spring.

• Rambling roses

Rambling roses such as 'The Garland' are pruned in late summer. For the first 2 years, only prune out any dead, diseased or damaged growth. Once your rambling rose has covered its support, completely remove about a third of all older shoots to ground level. Tie in the remaining shoots to form a well-balanced framework. Shorten all side shoots to leave between 2 and 4 healthy ‘buds’ (or shoots) remaining. Tying in stems to a horizontal position along their support encourages more flowers to form.


General aftercare

• Deadheading roses

Deadheading roses is necessary to encourage more blooms and new growth. If your rose is still flowering in the autumn, stop deadheading as this may encourage new soft growth which could be damaged by frosts. You can also leave the rose hips (seed heads) on the plant for winter interest if you prefer.

• Autumn care

Clear away any fallen leaves from around your rose bushes during the autumn as these may carry diseases such as black spot, which will overwinter and infect your roses next year.


rose garden

Roses like to be grown in a sunny position that is sheltered from strong winds. They don’t thrive in the shade or if crowded by other plants.


bareroot-rose

Our roses are supplied as bareroot plants, which simply means they have been lifted from the ground during their dormant season and will arrive as a bare shrub with exposed roots.


rose arch

You can grow climbing roses over a rose arch or a simmilar support for a particularly effective display.


rose in a container

Roses can be grown in containers to create a beautiful, fragrant focal point on the patio.


planting climbing rose

Walls and other solid structures often cause the soil at their base to be dry so place your climbing rose 30-45cm (12-18 inches) away from the wall or fence at a 45 degree angle. to enable it to receive sufficient moisture.


pruning climbing rose

Once your climbing rose has established, continue to annually prune out any dead, damaged, diseased or twiggy growth in late autumn.


pruning close up

When pruning, make a cut at an angle above a bud, with the cut facing in the direction the new shoot will grow.