Expert shares top tips for growing roses

Rose expert Nigel Lawton.
Rose expert Nigel Lawton.

Heighley Gate Nursery and Garden Centre near Morpeth recently gave its customers an exclusive insight into the world of a popular garden plant.

And resident rose expert Nigel Lawton has now shared his top tips from the evening with Herald readers.

Mr Lawton, who was trained by well-known specialists David Austin Roses, said: “Roses are incredibly versatile, making them the perfect addition to an English country garden.

“They are planted to last 20-plus years, so it is certainly worth following a set of simple measures to ensure that you are able to reap the benefits of these glorious flowers.”

The measures are as follows.

Soil: Any average soil is fine but roses will appreciate the incorporation of organic matter into the soil beneath the root, mixed in with the subsoil. Always make sure to use robust compost.

Rose sickness/rose replant disease: Use Mycorrhiza to overcome this – sprinkle the granules into the bottom of the planting hole or directly onto the wet root ball, remove the new rose from its pot and place the roots directly on the granules.

Sunlight: Direct sun is extremely beneficial to roses, but semi-shade (up to four hours of sunlight per day) is also acceptable.

Watering: Water heavily at planting and until firmly established.

Planting: Avoid planting near competing tree roots – even large trees around 30 metres away can cause an issue.

Feeding: Feed during March and June with a handful of David Austin Rose Food. You can also liquid feed with high potash food.

Pruning: Prune towards the end of January into March – make sure not to over-prune, particularly young roses. Over-pruning will encourage softer growth that is less likely to take the weight of the flower.

During the early years, retain the plant’s shape, but allow shoots to go woody. Support the flowers until this has happened. It may take around three to five years for the roses to mature and create a framework.

After this, implement selective thinning of older branches from the centre of bush and allow fresh new roots to take place.

Disease: prevention is better than cure. Disease is unlikely to kill a plant, but try to select newer varieties that tend to be less prone to disease.

Use a chemical spray to provide a chemical barrier to the leaf and start spraying during spring when the leaves are open – avoid the frost. Make sure to repeat spray as the weather will wash the chemical off.

Remove old leaf litter from the soil surface or apply a mulch over the top to act as a physical barrier.

Dead heading: Remove individual flowers when they die and when the whole truss has finished flowering. Cut back the stem by a third to encourage new growth.