Caring for Roses


Beryl Harris

I do not recommend Hybrid Tea roses, nor David Austin for the Peterborough area, unless you are prepared to lose them – I know that some of you enjoy the Austin’s so much that you do not mind if they only last a couple of seasons. If you intend to have your roses for many years then try planting the hardier Explorer or Parkland Roses.

You need to plant your roses in an area with at least 6 hours of continuous sunshine. They should have good air circulation as well.

The planting hole should be at adequate for the size of the roots or root ball, the depth of the plant the same or lower than the original soil line (I like to put the graft at least 4 to inches below the soil line). Bare root roses (shudder) should be soaked for at least an hour, then planted in the hole with their roots widely spread and covered with very good topsoil. This may help to rehydrate the plants after shipment or if the transplanting has been delayed. Potted roses can be transplanted anytime in the growing season. Pot-bound roses should have their roots pruned. Water all transplanted roses very well. The addition of a very small amount of soluble fertilizer (e.g. 10-60-10) or (10-52-100) with the water will encourage rooting after transplanting. Pruning at planting time should be limited to the removal of broken or diseased branches and roots.

Spring is the time for planting roses as this permits the development of the root system. Good results can also be obtained (I prefer to transplant in the fall) but plants will require mulching to ensure a good survival rate.

When roses are planted in a soil that is rich and fertile, only an annual spring application of fertilizer may be required. In poorer soil, 2 to 3 feedings may be needed from late-spring to mid-July Fertilizers specifically formulated for roses should be used but only according to the instructions and must be well incorporated into the soil Winter hardy roses, especially those developed at Morden are tolerant to dry periods. However, deep watering, once or twice every 15 days is required. Avoid wetting the leaves if at all possible and water early in the mornings. This will help to prevent the spread of foliar diseases. To limit water evaporation and drying out the soil, hoe the surface 48 hours after watering or a rain, or where the soil tends to form a crust. Roses do not compete well with weeds and should be planted and maintained in a weed free soil. Hoe, hoe, hoe. Mulches are an effective weed barrier and also helps to conserve moisture.

Pruning shrub or climbing roses is necessary in the first year after planting to help to train initial development. Large shrub roses should be pruned to between 5 and 7 canes with only the most vigorous and youngest wood kept. Newly planted climbing roses should be pruned to 3 canes which will promote the growth of 5 to 7 new shoots. Annual pruning is required at or before bud break. Once the bushes have been planted and have adapted, the plant only requires maintenance pruning . Remove winter killed or old canes in order to promote new growth that develops at the base of the plants. Removal of spent flowers and fruits (hips) will promote development of
new flowers. Do not do this if you want hips for the birds.

Winter hardy roses usually have good resistance to black spot and mildew. Plants should be well spaced to ensure good air circulation and drainage. Plants may require a spraying of sulphur if the humidity is very high, or we get a lot of rain. If you should need to spray for mild infections or insects, then products are available at local farm supply stores and nurseries. Do follow the instructions very carefully and remember to wear gloves at all times

Hardy roses require only snow cover for winter protection. Branches may be tied to avoid wind damage or protection from very heavy snowfalls. During extremely cold winters, canes of some cultivars may freeze and be killed at snow level. In the spring, the dead wood should be removed and maintenance pruning as previously talked about followed.