Ever dreamed of creating your very own rose garden, filled with a variety of stunning, fragrant roses? Here are some helpful insider tips to get you on your way. From soil preparation, to selecting your perfect rose, to feeding, watering and pruning…
Getting started – choose a sunny position
Roses need an open sunny position where they will get 6 – 8 hours of full sun daily. In hot climates they will benefit from protection from late afternoon sun. In cooler climates a position close to a north facing wall may help reduce frost damage.
Best soil types for roses
A beautiful display of roses starts with good soil preparation. Roses are heavy feeders so dig the area deeply and add plenty of compost. They prefer neutral pH and clay-based soil but also good drainage, so add gypsum with organic matter. If your soil is sandy it can be enriched by compost and a high nitrogen fertiliser e.g. aged chicken manure.
Roses don’t like root competition so if you want them to thrive, plant them away from existing trees or large shrubs.
How to choose your rose variety
Roses grow across most regions of Australia but prefer temperate climates with less extreme swings in temperature and humidity. Roses grown in high humidity are more susceptible to fungal diseases so consider choosing new varieties that are disease resistant.
There are so many varieties to choose from: hybrid tea, floribunda, standards, climbing, weeping, miniatures and ground covers. A good place to start is by looking around your neighbourhood to get an idea of what grows well and also make a plan for the type of look you are after. Do you want perfume, a particular colour, cutting roses or a ‘wall of colour’?
Dig the hole about 450mm square and add compost to the soil dug out; heap up slightly into the centre of the base. Spread the roots over the base and partly fill the hole half way with the compost/soil mix and water thoroughly. When the water has subsided fill the remainder of the hole, packing down firmly. A dilute solution of fish emulsion will help stimulate root growth.
Watering in warmer months
Give plants a regular deep watering once per week in Summer. Mature plants in a clay soil may only need watering every 10 – 14 days. Water direct at the soil level to avoid fungal leaf disease – drip irrigation tubing such as Drip-Eze is ideal for this type of application, as the water is kept off leaves by dripping water directly to the base of the plant. Keep the soil moist by covering with any locally available good quality mulch.
Prune to perfection
Light pruning can be done through the growing season to encourage more blooms, but the main pruning should be done in June (August in frost prone regions). Don’t be afraid of hard pruning plants that have been neglected. Cut back by between half and two thirds and remove dead and twiggy branches. Try to open up into a vase shape to allow good air circulation. If you see a sucker coming from the root stock (below the soil surface) expose the area and peel away completely.
To find useful local rose growing information contact the Rose Society in your state.