Roses-The Nations Favourite Flowers

Roses are the nations favourite flowers. This may, in part, be because there are so many different types that there is one to suit every situation.

Species Roses are the original ancesters of all our modern hybrid Roses. They tend to be large, only to flower once a year and have a restricted number of colours and flower types. However, they do not grow suckers. All other roses have been created by growers and are hybrids. They can be grown as bushes or standards and many varieties of climbing and rambling roses are available. Small, ground hugging roses can also be bought. There are known as Patio roses . Standard Roses are simply bush roses which have been grafted onto a small tree to give them a long stem.You can also buy ‘weeping standards’ which are rambler roses grafted onto a long stem. These look much less formal in a mixed border in a small garden than its more formal cousin, the standard rose.

It is sometimes difficult to choose roses, given the wide variety of colours and shapes of the flowers along with the variety of types. However, always consider where you are putting it, how large it will grow amd what it will eventually look like, before coming to a decision.

Unlike many other shrubs, roses should always be planted a little lower than they grew in the nursery , about 1 in (2.5cm)  will do. However, the grafting point should always be below ground. The reason for planting it lower is to encourage growth of new shots below ground. If you are planting in Autumn, they should be pruned back hard immediately after planting. This ensures they do not suffer wind damage during winter and that they put all their energy in establishing a good root system. Always keep all newly planted  roses watered throughout their first year, then ensure their root system does not become too dry.

Suckers are shoots which have grown from the original root below where your hybrid rose has been grafted. If you have suckers, then they should be removed as soon as possible, since they are usually stronger than the hybrid and will take over the plant. Remove by digging down a little towards the root and pull off the sucker. If you cannot pull it off, the cut it off as near to the root as possible.

Pruning on hybrid bush roses is carried out every year in early spring just before the bush rose start to grow. This is so that you can assess the amount of damage caused by frosts and cut it out. The principle of pruning is that the harrder you prune, the more vigorously the shoot will grow. So, get into the habit of cutting back weak shoots further than the strong ones.  Bush standards are pruned just like ordinary hybrids whilst weeping standards are pruned after flowering, just cutting out very old, diseased or overcrowded wood.

Dead-heading Roses (removing dead flower heads)  particularly continuous flowering varieties will ensure a supply of blooms through summer and autumn and often into early winter. Some varieties are grown for their spectacular hips, so of course, you do not dead head these.

Roses have their own particular pests and disease, mainly blackspot, mildew and greenfly.  Mildew shows itself as a mealy, pale grey coating on leaves, bud, flowers and young shoots. This results in yellowing and general lack of vigour. It is worse when the roots are dry. It thrives in cool damp and humid conditions, so ensure your roses are not overcrowded and are not being overwatered. Mulching will also help keep it at bay. Remove and burn any leaves showing signs of the disease and if it is persistant  you could spray with a copper fungacide.

Greenfly are aphids. They suck the sap from your roses causing distortion and particularly attack the young growing tips. Greenfly excrete sticky honeydew on which sooty mould can grow, and transmit virus diseases. There are a number of predators, such as ladybirds and hoverflies, which eat greenfly by the thousand, so the trick is to attract these into your garden. You can grow French Marigolds (Tagetes) close to your Roses to attract these. You can also rub the greenfly off with your fingers (they feel sticky) or you can spray them off with a powerful jet of water. You could also use insectorcidal soap but since the soap only lasts a day, it seems to me to be a treatment which introduces  foreign material into your garden a bit unnecessarily.

Black Spot on roses is a fungus. It starts as a small black spot and merges into large dead areas.which drop out and leaves may wither and die. If your roses become infected with black spot, then ensure that they are not too overcrowded. Remove infected parts of the plant and burn them. Spray the rest of the plant with dispersible sulpher if the infection is really bad. Hard Pruning in autumn will kill off any remaining overwintering spores. Burn all the prunings.

Roses are beautiful flowers to grow and, provided you look after them, are usually free from pests and diseases  and will give years of pleasure. . Every garden deserves at least one.