Wednesday 24 October 2018

The best time to plant new roses

Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

There was a time only a few decades ago that roses were considered a bareroot plant and virtually always supplied as such for winter planting. Today it is rare to find roses supplied barerooted unless bought via post which of course means easier transportation for the supplying nurseries.

The vast majority of retail roses today are bought in garden centres in containers. There is good and bad in this for both the supplier and the purchaser. The supplier has an all year round sales period but also has to make sure that their stock is kept in tip top condition. This is not always easy as with multiple roses in close proximity with each other during the summer months, it is a haven for disease to run amok. Nobody is going to buy a rose heavily infested with greenfly or one covered in rust or blackspot.

For the purchaser these container grown roses are more expensive to buy but are probably a little more reliable to plant as they are coming with a ready established root system. The benefits for both sides is that these roses can be sold in bloom which can make them hard to resist and also allow the customer to see the flower in its real state and to sample the fragrance to.

My one bugbear with containerised roses is that often, in the early season, these plants are not rooted into their pots sufficiently and are either effectively bareroot plants that you are paying containerised prices for or even worse they are partially rooted and when taken ,no matter how carefully, from their pots all the compost falls away from those delicate newly form root systems causing damage. Usually however by mid June ,when many roses are in their first flush of flowers, they should be root strongly enough for careful transplanting.

I still feel that the dormant season is the best time to plant new roses whether containerised or barerooted. It gives them a chance to settle and grow in with the seasons of spring through summer. Any winter planting is always weather dependent, don't try to plant in very wet conditions or if there is a frost or snow on the ground. Roses are long lived plants so good preparation is important.

Dig an area of soil at least 400mm deep and wide and incorporate plenty of manure and a good hand full of blood, fish and bone fertiliser. Most roses are T bud grafted, seen as a bump at the plants stem base, and this union point should be about 25mm below the soil level. T budded means that a slip of plant material with a bud attached is taken from a cultivated plant and via a T shaped incision [ T budding] is bound to a selected rootstock. This gives the plant the growing characteristics and health of the rootstock but the beauty of the cultivated roses flower. This said many roses can be grown from hardwood cuttings on their own rootstocks very successfully.

Firm your rose into the soil well after planting and mulch with another 25mm of manure. If you are planting many roses it is worth, certainly for the first year, to leave the label on so you remember what is where.

For those of you who think that roses are not for you think again. There is no group of plants that are more diverse in their flowering habits than roses. While I love roses myself, all roses, I do have a certain sympathy with those who find the blousy nature of some of the rose flowers around a little to saccharine for them. I suggest that they look a little harder at the genus where they will find simplicity in such roses as the seemingly erroneously named Rosa Complicata, Rosa mutablis, Rosa alba semi plena Rosa Sally Holmes and Rosa glauca.

Even if you are not planning planting any roses this year I hope the very thought of them will bring you a little beam of summer sunshine into a January day.