Watch Mark’s Complete Guide to Roses

Award Winning Garden Designer and BBC presenter Mark Lane talks us through all there is to know about roses with Primrose TV. From Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Climbers, Mark’s useful advice will help you find the perfect rose for you, including how to get the most from them in your garden!

Primrose TV – Mark Lane’s Complete Guide to Roses

Watch Mark's Complete Guide to Roses with Primrose TV

Watch Mark’s Complete Guide to Roses with Primrose TV

Text to accompany video:

Hello, I’m Mark Lane. I’m a BBC gardening presenter and a multi-award-winning garden designer. Welcome to my garden.

Today I’m going to talk about beautiful roses in your garden. So, if you want some tips and tricks you’ve come to the right place.

There is no doubt that roses are one of the most popular flowers to grow in Britain. In fact, so many are planted each year, that if you set them out as a single row, they will encircle the equator! With the proper care and maintenance, you can expect your roses to last for at least 20 years.

First, what’s the difference between potted and bare-root roses?

With potted plants, the bare roots have been wrapped with compost and put into a pot to keep them moist during transportation. This extra bit of protection prevents them from drying out and allows them to get off to a flying start. Between November and March, however, you can also buy some, but not all varieties, bare root. In other words, without any soil on them. They have been grown in open fields, lifted just before delivery with very little root disturbance, and need to be planted immediately upon receipt. Yet, if you want to plant roses at any time of the year, so long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged, then potted roses is the best way forward.

When it comes to selecting roses there are of course hundreds of different varieties. You can go for bush roses, climbing roses, rambling roses, hybrid tea roses, polyantha, floribunda, grandiflora, miniature and species roses. A little research to start with is always advisable to find the right rose for you and the conditions within your garden.

Today, I’m going to chat about 5 Floribunda roses.

But, what is a Floribunda rose?

These were originally produced by crossing Hybrid Teas with Polyantha Roses. They create a mass of colour by bearing many flowers held in large clusters – in fact, few plants can produce so much colour over such a long season. Many Floribundas have little scent, although more fragrant varieties are now appearing, such as the ones that I’m going to share with you today.

The great thing about Floribunda roses is that they are ideal for growing in mixed borders as well as pots and containers, so if you’re tight on space then you can still grow a colourful, scented rose. They’re also hardy, more robust and more disease resistant than Hybrid Tea roses. In other words, they’re easier to grow, which is always a bonus.

My maternal grandmother’s garden was full of roses, but I always remembering visiting and having to pick off the dead or diseased leaves and squashing green fly between our fingers. All my brother and I wanted to do was play outside, but we always had rose duty.

As a nod to my grandparents, I now have a dedicated rose border, but I have been thinking about adding more roses, but within my existing borders, and therefore really wanted to give Floribundas a go, but I want to plant them in a modern way with herbs, herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses.

The 5 varieties I have are Fab @ 60, Happy Retirement, Friendship, Burgundy Ice and Amber Queen. Now it’s early August in my garden, so the potted roses already have quite a lot of growth. If you order yours for early spring then please don’t be surprised if it arrives with only 15cm of growth. This is because the roses have been carefully pruned back by the UK nursery during the colder months to ensure strong, healthy growth throughout the growing seasons. Later in the year your potted rose may well come with several buds, ready to flower just like the ones I have.

Fab @ 60 is a gorgeous deep red rose and is a great repeat flowerer and has a medium fragrance. It gets to about 80cm in height and spreads to 60cm, so is ideal in the middle of a border or in a large pot. The perfect gift to celebrate a 60th birthday. I’ve planted mine alongside Euphorbia and Phlomis for a great textural planting scheme. [CLIP 1]

Happy Retirement forms graceful, light pink flowers that release a delicate floral scent. It’s easy to grow and is repeat flowering. Again, this wonderful variety is a lovely way to celebrate a loved one’s retirement, or even as a treat to yourself! It has additionally achieved the RHS Award of Garden Merit which is proof that it has a reliable nature, is resistant to pests and disease, and has commended flowers and foliage. This too grows to 80cm x 60cm. This I have underplanted with Calamintha nepeta and a backdrop of Eupatorium maculatum (Atropurpureum Group) ‘Purple Bush’. The small clusters of flowers on both neighbouring plants highlight the light, pink flowers of this celebratory rose. [CLIP 2 AND 3]

Friendship forms clusters of creamy blooms on burgeoning, glossy green foliage. It repeat-flowers from May to September, and is an excellent gift idea for a close friend, where it will happily grow in borders, beds, and pots. The graceful flowers of this rose also release an exquisite scent, making this plant a lovely addition to your patio space where you can best enjoy the fragrance. A great gift for your best friend. 80cm x 60cm. I recently added some white borders in my garden, so this will be planted with Achillea ptarmica and Sanguisorba. [NO CLIP]

Rosa ‘Burgundy Ice’ is a free-flowering Floribunda Rose that will flower ceaselessly until autumn. It forms clusters of deep plum blooms with velvet-like petals, which contrast strikingly against their handsome green foliage. Paired with its delicate fragrance and hardy nature, this rose will make a wonderful addition to a mix border, but it can also be grown in a container. ‘Burgundy Ice’ will be happy in any aspect, (apart from north facing), but is ideally placed on an open, sunny site in moist, well-drained soil. 80cm x 60cm. I love ornamental grasses, so I’ve planted this alongside Molinia Poul Petersen, the red leaves of Cotinus coggygria and the rust-orange spires of Digitalis ferruginea Gigantea. [CLIP 4]

Repeat flowering during summertime, Amber Queen is a perfect choice if you’re into warmer colours! Its delightful, golden amber blooms will illuminate your garden even on the rainiest of days, with their jewel-like appearance contrasting strikingly against their shiny green foliage (which will look particularly beautiful on a dewy morning!). First introduced in 1984, Amber Queen has become a widely loved floribunda variety, where it will grow contently in pots and containers, making it a lovely choice for patio gardens and even balcony spaces. It grows to 75cm x 60cm. This has been planted alongside Thyme and Hylotelephium or Sedum. The Thyme makes the rose shine while the Hylotelephium will keep the display going for months on end. [CLIP 5]

So, how do you plant roses?

Well, the first thing to say is that roses are easy to grow. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider before planting your roses.

  • Hardiness: Modern roses are produced from an amalgamation of rose species – many of which come from far colder regions than the UK – and are therefore fully hardy.
  • Position: Rose plants benefit from being planted in full sun. Slight shade in the afternoon is good but not continuous shade. Planting your plant in a sheltered spot will allow the plant to put more resources into flowering. Your rose will need shelter from cold winds. A nearby hedge or fence is good but should not be too close that it shades the bush.
  • Soil Types: Ideally you want to grow your roses in slightly acidic soil with a PH of 6.0-6.5 and be reasonably rich in plant foods and humus. Roses cannot thrive if the soil conditions are poor. Every plant will eventually adapt to its conditions. Having said that, less than ideal conditions will reduce growth.

    Waterlogged soils will starve your plant of oxygen, which plays a key role in photosynthesis, cause its roots to rot and create the perfect environment for many diseases. Similarly, compressed soils can starve a plant of oxygen and water, so do not compress the soil when planting. Aeration can be improved further with mulching. Your rose will need good drainage as it will not grow in waterlogged soil.

  • Preparing the rose: Cut off any leaves, hips or buds that may still be present. If the stems are shrivelled place all of the bush in water for several hours. Cut off any decayed or thin shoots before planting. Plunge roots into a bucket of water if they seem dry. It is crucial that the roots do not dry out before planting and make sure they remain covered until you are ready to set the bush in the planting hole. Cut back any long or damaged roots to about 30cm.
  • Planting in Pots: Patio and miniature roses will grow happily in 40cm pots, while compact ground cover, floribunda and climbing roses will grow better in 60cm containers. Don’t be scared to prune your rose’s roots, which is essential, prior to planting to encourage fibrous growth, then apply a mulch and water regularly in the warmer months.
  • When planting in beds and borders leave a distance of about a metre between each plant. When planting make sure that the bud union is about 2-3cm below the surface. This can easily be seen by a slight colour differentiation and bulge in the stem. Before planting, whether in the ground or in containers, sprinkle mycorrhizal fungi, such as Rootgrow, onto to the roots and into the planting hole. In other words the roots need direct contact with the fungi.

    Mycorrhizal Fungi helps establish young trees and plants. It is a micro-organism with which plants have a symbiotic relationship. A secondary root system develops, which helps increase the uptake of water and nutrients. Once this product has been applied, it will last throughout the lifespan of the treated plant, helping to establish them for years to come, improving flowering and fruiting season after season.

Once you have planted your rose, what do you need to do to care and maintain them?

You’ll come across the following terms when it comes to caring for your roses: Mulching, watering, hoeing, cutting, feeding, deadheading and pruning.

I garden organically and I urge all gardeners to grow organically, but I fully understand if you need help every now and then with pests and diseases.

When planting, caring and maintaining your roses I advise you wear a good pair of gloves, such as these and have a pair of clean, sharp secateurs.

In my garden we mulch on a regular basis. And roses will benefit from having a layer of mulch on the soil surface around the plants as it reduces weeds, keeps soil moist in summer, improves soil structure, reduces black spots and some mulching material even provides nutrients.

I recommend using shredded bark, well-rotted manure or garden compost and leaf mould, which we make every year in my garden. Before mulching it’s essential to prepare the soil surface before mulching by clearing away debris, dead leaves and weeds. Water the soil surface if it’s dry then spread a 5-7cm layer around the rose. Mulching also reduces the need for watering and hoeing but doesn’t replace the need for good feeding.

Roses have a deep-rooting habit meaning that the watering of established plants isn’t crucial in some seasons. However, some roses need watering after a few days of dry weather, for example, newly planted roses, climbers growing against walls and roses planted in sandy soils. All roses will need plenty of water in a period of drought in spring and summer. When watering, use about 5 litres of water for each bush or standard rose and 15 litres for a climber.

The main purpose of hoeing is to keep down weeds that are not smothered by mulching. Hoeing needs to be done frequently to make sure that the underground parts of the weeds are starved or light. Do not hoe any deeper than 2-3cm below the surface or the roots could be damaged.

Roses are perhaps the most popular flower for cutting and using as decoration. To make sure you don’t weaken the rose bush, don’t take more than a third of the flowering stem with the flower. Using a good pair of secateurs, like these, cut just above an outward facing bud. Do not cut struggling or newly planted roses.

Roses need feeding as they’re hungry plants. Feed every year using a fertiliser containing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. You can use powder or granular fertiliser, liquid fertilisers or foliar feeding.

It’s also important to regularly remove dead blooms, otherwise known as deadheading. Remove the whole truss when the flowers have faded. Cut the stem just above the second or third leaf down. This will help the rose conserve energy.

Pruning is also essential for healthy roses. If they’re not pruned the rose becomes a mass of live and dead wood. The purpose of pruning is to get rid of the dead wood each year and encourage the regular development of strong and healthy stems, which in turn means more flowers.

Always cut in a sloping direction away from the bud, so that any rain will run off the cut and not soak the bud – which can cause rotting. Remove, dead, diseased, dying and crossing branches. Don’t leave cuttings on the ground but remove and either burn them or add to your garden waste collection.

What you want to aim for is an open goblet shape. Make sure your secateurs are sharp, clean and always disinfectant your secateurs before moving to another plant.

The best time to prune roses is in late winter or early spring, around the time new growth begins. This could be as early as January or as late as May, depending on your climate.

So, by following these simple steps and tips and tricks you can enjoy your roses for many years to come.

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