How to grow
Roses need plenty of sunshine – about six hours or more each day. Northerly and westerly aspects are usually the sunniest spots.
Most Aussie climates are suitable, with the exception of the tropical far north. Bare-root roses need to be planted in winter when they are leafless, but potted roses can be planted all year round.
Roses will happily grow in many soil types, but good drainage is essential. A few weeks before planting, add at least half a 30-litre bag of compost and aged manure per rose, and fork in. For heavy clay soil, use a liquid gypsum.
New plants need to be kept moist, so use your finger to test the soil. Once established, roses will enjoy a weekly soaking, but need more in the dry summer months.
These beauties are hungry plants, so apply organic rose food twice in spring, summer and autumn, and water in well. In winter, apply a 40mm layer of composted manure to condition the soil and feed.
Lucerne hay, pea straw and sugar cane are all great mulches for roses. Apply a 50mm layer in spring and top it up in summer to help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
Roses respond well to pruning, producing new canes and many more flowers. Mid to late winter is a good time to cut back established roses (leave spring- only bloomers and most climbing roses until after flowering in late spring). A mid-summer tidy up will help reinvigorate tired roses and encourage autumn blooms.
Where to plant roses in your garden
Just one rose bush can make magic in your garden. But why stop there? You've got a whole box of tricks up your sleeve if you decide to plant more. It depends on where in the garden is the best place for your bushes to thrive. It could be the front or back yard, deck or terrace - just so long as it's a sunny spot.
This is where you can show off! Go formal with box hedging if your house is modern, or informal with soft lines if it's cottagey.
- Plant drifts of three bushes - about 45cm apart - of the same variety for greater visual impact.
- Flatter your rose bushes with borders of plants that have grey or silver foliage as they work with all rose colours. Try French lavender, lamb's ear, wormwood, dusty miller, catmint or germander.
- Accentuate your bushes with strappy-leafed plants such as dilanella, minature agapanthus, variegated carex, Brazilian walking iris or mondo grass.
- Position potted standard roses on either side of your front door for a classic, elegant touch.
This is your secret garden others can only view by invitation only.
- Put in seating where you can take a spell and really enjoy the beauty of your garden.
- Add a water feature and garden art - something you treasure that won't disappear from your garden overnight.
- Create an archway that a rambling rose can claim.
- Let a climbing rose run rampant over your potting shed.
Consider your view of the garden from inside your home and plant so the best bushes are framed by windows.
- If your back yard is small, maintain scale with smaller rose bushes. If it's large, go for the big bloomers.
Space along these passages can often be tight, but there's no need to waste it!
- Put a trellis against a wall - about 20cm away to allow air to circulate through - for a climber or rambler.
- Incorporate another climber, such as a clematis, to create a dramatic vertical effect.
- If your wall has an interesting texture - say brick, stone or render - an espaliered rose will complement this feature. Climbing roses are best because their canes are long, strong and flexible.
- Plant old-fashioned polyantha roses. They're small and more compact than modern varieties, but make up for their small size with an abundance of flowers in sprays or bunches from late spring until late autumn.
- Limit your colour range and stick to lighter colours so the space doesn't seem cramped.
Balcony, deck or terrance
The absence of a garden to call your own is no obstacle to growing roses. Many varieties do well when planted in containers, and you're never far from being able to appreciate their beauty or perfume. Put a few varieties on display in a window box planter! It can attach to your window or balcony rail.
How to grow roses in containers
- Not all roses are suited to containers. Grandifloras can grow too big, hybrid tea roses generally don't thrive when restrained in a pot and climbing roses want to sprawl, so will need a frame.
- Rose roots grow deep so, in planting, your pot should be both about 500mm wide and deep.
- Use quality potting mix, preferably one formulated for potted roses.
- Put your pots on a sturdy cradle with wheels to allow excess water to drain away, and also so you can move the container into the sun when necessary or into shelter in winter.
- Because potted roses don't have the microbial benefits of garden soil, feed them in spring and then every fortnight while they are blooming.
- Because patio plants may be exposed to rain, ensure the potting mix is always moist.
- Most potted roses need to be repotted every two or three years because they are heavy feeders and the growing mix quickly runs out of nutrients.
- Roses have large root systems, so you can either trim roots when you repot or move to a large container.