Rose Beds and Planting Roses

These may be of any shape. The length is immaterial, but the width is determined arches, pergolas or fences and, in the case of climbers, on walls. Ramblers are not suitable for walls since they are likely to be attacked by mildew if grown in this position.

There is a basic difference between ramblers and climbers. Ramblers are very vigorous, somewhat lax growers, and bear a heavy crop of small flowers in clusters. They bloom only once a year on long, flexible shoots which grow from the base of the plant during the previous summer. Climbers make fewer basal shoots; the growths are stiffer, the flowers are individual and much larger. Some varieties bloom more or less continuously.

By practical considerations. Avoid excessively wide beds, otherwise frequent treading is inescapable. A bed 6 ft. wide holds three rows of most hybrid teas or floribundas comfortably. In large beds, standards set in the middle, and elsewhere according to taste, improve the over-all effect.



Rose trees of all types can be planted from late October to late March provided the ground is neither frozen nor sodden with rain. On heavy soils, which usually contain good reserves of moisture, planting in early spring is often more successful. On light, sandy soils, however, spring planting, is seldom as successful as November planting, because March winds plus prolonged drought often lead to serious die-back.


Roses thrive on any type of soil provided it is given careful initial preparation. Complete the soil preparation about three weeks before planting in order to allow the ground to settle.

The whole area should be dug two spits deep; if there is clay in the bottom spit, mix hydrated lime freely with the soil to break it up. In light or medium soil the bottom spit must still be broken up thoroughly. Always be careful not to mix the two spits during digging.

The top spit needs careful preparation and such humus-forming material as rotted compost, hop manure, damp peat, old leaf mould or chopped-up old turves should be added in generous quantities. As long as the various materials used are well mixed in the soil and not left in layers or lumps, what is used matters little. Bonemeal or fish manure is useful on any soil, and sulphate of potash is beneficial to sandy soils, which are usually lacking in potash. If farmyard manure is added it must always be well rotted and free from weed seeds. Mix it freely with the top soil so that the roots of the roses do not come into contact with slabs of manure, otherwise they may ‘burn’.


Plants may be delivered by the nursery-man as a pyramidal straw bundle with damp moss round the roots, in a card-board box with polythene sheeting covering the roots, or in three- or four-ply paper sacks with straw, hay or polythene for root protection. Do not worry if the trees cannot be dealt with immediately. Leave the packages intact in any unhealed, frost-proof shed, garage or cellar, or under the greenhouse staging, and they will be perfectly safe for about ten days.

If the trees cannot be planted in 10 to 14 days after delivery, unpack them and find a sheltered spot in the garden. Dig a trench and place the trees in it in a single row so that they can eventually be lifted a few at a time without disturbing the remainder. Cover the roots and lower portions of the stems with soil. Do not set the trees firmly in the ground but place them on a slight slant, making sure that they are unlikely to become loose in the soil. This is called heeling-in, and with this treatment the trees can safely be left for weeks or even months.


Never let the roots dry out before planting. Plunge the roots of each tree in a pail of water. Cut off any foliage, buds or flowers, and decayed or twiggy shoots. If the stems are at all shrivelled, leave the whole plant in water for several hours, when it will usually freshen up.

Make the planting hole about 15 in. in diameter and, except for standards, no deeper than will be required to bring the budding union (a bulge where the main stem starts) about level with the surface soil. Place a double handful of mixed moist peat, bone meal and fine soil in a mound in the middle of the hole. Hold the bush in the centre of the hole and spread the roots out without bending or twisting them. Work in plenty of fine soil, shaking the bush a little so that the soil falls through the roots and there are no air gaps left. Press the soil down firmly all round with the foot — when this has been done the budding union should be level with the surface or not more than l in. beneath it. Always plant firmly, because loose planting encourages the development of suckers or wild growths from the stock on which the rose was budded. On light ground the soil round each bush should be pressed down firmly as the hole is filled. Deep planting is detrimental because subsequent manuring, feeding and mulching will gradually raise the soil level.


Most kinds can be spaced 20 in. apart, the compact growers rather closer, say 16 to 18 in., and the very vigorous varieties farther apart, say up to 2 ft. Bush roses are more effective when staggered.


Before planting the trees, drive stakes firmly into the ground at least 3 ft. apart. After planting, tie each tree to its stake in three places, making one tie just below the budding union, another half-way up the stem, and a third towards the base. Stakes should always be treated with a proprietary wood preservative from the base of the support to a couple of inches-above ground level.


If the plants are to be grown on garden walls or fences, place them not less than 10 ft. apart so that their long shoots can spread out properly. If climbers are to grow on house walls, plant them 15 in. away from the house, as the height of the walls tends to prevent moisture from reaching the roots if planted closer. Keep the surrounding soil clear for about 18 in. in all directions. If a rose is to be grown up a pillar, first put the pillar in position, then plant the rose 12 in. away from it, and tie it loosely to the post.


Choose a sunny position, and soil which is reasonably retentive of moisture but is perfectly drained. If the soil is on the dry side, work in plenty of damp peat and compost.


Countless disappointments have been caused by planting new rose bushes in an established bed without changing the existing soil. Preparing a hole as just described is not sufficient. Soil which has grown roses for many years gradually becomes ‘rose sick’ since all roses take considerable quantities of plant nutrients from the soil. The existing roses will, however, continue to flourish for many years because their roots are all the time spreading to new areas with untapped supplies of plant foods.

If a gap is to be filled, first remove the soil for each new tree to at least 12 in. deep and 18 in. across and exchange it for soil from another part of the garden where roses have not been grown. (In the case of well-established climbers and ramblers make the hole 18 in. deep and not less than 2 ft. across.) Then prepare the ground in the usual way. This is laborious work but it is a basic necessity and not a counsel of perfection.


Roses may be successfully moved at any time of the year, even in full flower and when the soil is bone dry, provided certain precautions are taken.

Remove all buds and flowers, but do not cut them with long stems. Lift each tree carefully, cutting back any extra long roots. There is no need to lift with a ball of soil, but cover the roots and lower portions of the stems with damp sacking since it is even more important in the summer than during the normal planting season that the roots are never allowed to become dry.

Replant the roses in their new position as soon as possible, having first removed all leaves and ‘puddled’ the roots. (This means dipping the roots in a bucket containing water and enough fine soil to form mud.)

Firm planting is vital. Water freely if the soil is dry and continue watering if dry weather persists. Spray the entire plant with clear water two or three times a week until fresh growth is apparent. A 2-in. mulch of damp peat spread round the base of the plant is also helpful.

Do not prune until new growth appears, then cut away any dead shoots. Some die-back invariably occurs, but there is no cause for anxiety.

18. September 2013 by admin
Categories: Gardening History, Plant Biology, Top Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rose Beds and Planting Roses


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