Growing a Rose: How, When and Where? UK Guide

A rose plant is surprisingly resilient and capable of growing quite easily. Even so, a few good tips will ensure that you are successful and have beautiful roses to be proud of, come summer!

When is the best time to plant roses?

The end of autumn is by far the best time to plant bare-foot roses. This is about the time when leaves start to fall. If not for this ideal window, you can also plant them in the early parts of spring, as long as new growth hasn’t begun. As for when not to plant roses, winter is definitely a no-no period. If you plant to grow roses in a container or pot, you can plant them pretty much all-year round. You just have to ensure that the potting soil isn’t frozen or dry.

Where should you plant your roses?

The patch where you want to grow your roses is one of the most important things to get right if you want beautiful roses blooming in the summer. Choose a square or area in your garden that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. This has to be direct sunlight. 8 hours is ideal. This can be a challenge if your garden is small as shadows cast by your house and other structures can prevent direct sunlight from falling on the soil. You obviously also want to choose a plot where you can enjoy the view of your roses. You will after all put in a good amount of work to watch these beautiful flowers bloom and it would be a shame if you can see them easily or in plain sight.

Also remember that rose plants aren’t the best looking plants when not in bloom. In fact, they can actually look like an eyesore without a bloom. So, you don’t want them too front and center either.

Choosing the right soil

Rose plants thrive in any kind of soil that drains well. This is one reason why they suffer on frozen or hard soil. As added insurance, you can add a bed of good quality compost before planting your rose plants. It takes about two years for a rose plant to let its roots dig deep down into the soil, after which they are quite resilient. In the first two years, it will be wise to take extra care to ensure that the soil doesn’t dry and harden. Careful watering and composting is critical during this time.

Planting it properly

Planting rose plants too deep or too shallow will mean you are setting them up for failure. As a general rule of thumb, aim for 2-3 inches below ground level in the UK, where it is usually cold at night. If you live in a warmer part of the UK, you can try to plant your roses closer to ground level. Rose bushes thrive best when planted at least 3 feet away from each other. The last thing you want is your rose plants fighting against each other. It’s also generally not a good idea to grow other plants, especially the flowering variety, too close alongside rose plants.

Watering roses - How often?

Newly planted roses require watering only once every two to three days. This is particularly relevant during the period between March and May. If your rose plants have already bloomed a few times, it might be enough to water them just once a week between the months of March and May.

During summers which in the UK is typically between June and September, new rose plants have to be watered every other day. If they have already bloomed a few times, watering them just once a week will suffice.

For the months between October and February or essentially the entire winter period, you will not need to water both newly planted roses and established roses.

Adding compost

Rose plants have a healthy appetite for compost, particularly during early spring. Any specialized compost for roses or even general compost will do. Manure added at the base of these plants is particularly helpful as it will allow the soil around the roots to remain well drained. This will also usually prevent weeds from competing against your rose plants. Do not skip the fertilizing even if your rose plants are doing well without it. With the right compost, you will definitely get an even better yield than you are enjoying now. Besides providing nutrients, fertilizer also regulates the pH balance of the soil, optimizing your rose plant bloom.

Extending the bloom time

Roses in full bloom are an amazing sight. And, it can be very satisfying to just walk out to take in the scene every day. Unfortunately, a full bloom doesn’t last for very long. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could make that bloom last a bit longer? Well, you can! By simply culling flowers that look like they are fading or dying will encourage the plants to bloom more. When breaking off roses that you want to discard, simply use your hand and cleanly break off the roses at its head. Do not use clippers or shears to break off rose flowers.

Pruning for success

Pruning is best done after the worst of the winter has passed. In other words, wait for the coldest days to roll on by before pruning your rose plants. In the UK, this is typically between January and February and maybe even March in some places.

Pruning is important because roses have a tendency to bloom only on the most recently grown part of the plant. Without pruning, you will have a bed or rose plants that have roses just at the top with nothing to show for from the shoots in the middle.

Also please remember that pruning should be begun only after a whole season has gone by since your rose plants have been in the ground. Pruning too early is just as bad a mistake as not pruning.

Choose the right variety to start with!

Sometimes, growing a rose just depends on what variety you choose to grow. These days, you have the ability to buy varieties that are remarkably resistant to diseases that cause mildew or black spots. Both mildew and black spots are usually caused by air circulation problems. To best prevent these problems, water your rose plants at the ground level, without getting the leaves and flowers wet.