When it comes to flowering plants, it’s hard to go past roses, with their gorgeous blooms and heady scents. They’re hardy, long-lived and long-flowering, putting on a show from spring right through until autumn.
Roses come in an incredible range of flower forms and sizes – from tiny singles to fully double blowsy blooms – and fragrances vary from soft to richly scented. Plant sizes and shapes include compact miniatures, rounded buns, arching shrubs, weepers, tall uprights, standards (like a lollipop on a stick), scramblers, fence climbers and groundcovers, so there’s a rose to suit just about every garden. And right now is a fabulous time to plant them!
Did you know...?
‘Sub rosa’ means ‘under the rose’ and relates to something being told or done in secret. The phrase was first recorded in 1654 and referred to a rose being hung over a meeting table to signify confidentiality.
How do I grow them?
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.