Planting and caring for roses

Planting rose bushes

Roses bloom in the summer and turn your garden into a romantic retreat. Create your rose paradise by planting a mixture of different types and colours side by side. Here are some tips for planting and caring for your roses.

Start with the perfect soil

Roses like humus-rich and slightly calcareous soil that allows enough oxygen to come through. Soil that is too wet or too dry can impact the development of your roses. Before you plant your roses, you should turn over the soil with a spade. No matter what soil type you have, it is recommended to dig a large planting hole and filling it with special soil for roses. This potting soil will contain the right food and structure for roses. If you want to do everything strictly by the book, prepare the soil in spring and work fertiliser through it. A good fertiliser with trace elements (low nitrogen content and sufficient magnesium and potassium) will keep your roses strong and healthy so that, when autumn comes round, the soil will be ready for you to plant your roses.

Planting roses

how to plant rose bushes

There are many different types of roses that can be planted in many different ways. Climbing roses should always be planted beside a wall or pergola, while open-ground roses make perfect borders. How you should space your plants also depends on the different types. Plant ground-cover roses, spray roses and large-flowered roses 35–45 cm away from each other. Standard roses need 80–100 cm and climbing roses should be at least 1–2 m apart. All roses have one thing in common: they love places that are sunny and airy. Here are some tips for planting different types of roses.  

Open-ground roses

Open-ground roses can be planted between mid-October and late April. If there is no frost on the ground in winter, open-ground roses can be planted as normal. Planting roses when there is snow on the ground is not advised as this can damage the roots. Autumn is the best time to plant roses because they then have all winter to form roots and then bloom in the spring.

By the time they arrive, the roots may have dried out a little, so place your roses in a bucket of lukewarm water overnight before planting. Pick a sunny spot to plant your roses in. Only ground-cover roses can grow in half shade or even completely in the shade, unlike other open-ground roses. Do pay attention to what other plants you have in the border. Tree roots can take a lot of water and food from the soil, which your roses need. Till the soil before you start planting. The planting hole must be deep enough and wide enough for the roots to be placed into the ground without bending. Place the rose with the roots spread out at the right depth, which you can find on the plant label. The thicker part that the branches stem from should be about 3–5 cm below the ground. Gently shake the rose to fill all the gaps between the roots with soil. Press down firmly and give it plenty of water. Pack a mound of earth around the rose. This is called 'earthing up' and protects the roots from frost in winter.

Roses in nursery pots

Roses in nursery pots can be planted almost all year round, except in periods of frost. Place the roses in a bucket of lukewarm water for half an hour before planting. Dig a spacious hole for planting and till the soil well. Remove the rose from the pot and place it at the right depth:

  • Grafted roses in nursery pots are sensitive to frost at their grafting point (the thicker part that the branches stem from). This point should be about 3–5 cm below the ground when planting. Fill the planting hole up with improved soil, press down firmly and give it plenty of water. Pack earth around the roses to protect the grafting point.
  • Cut roses in nursery pots are not grafted and therefore have no grafting point. Make sure that the top of their root ball is just below the surface. Improve the soil and use it to fill the planting hole. Press down firmly and give it plenty of water.

Climbing roses

The best thing about climbing roses is that you can plant them just about anywhere. They love to climb old hedges and fences, and can turn unsightly walls into extraordinary displays with ease. It is important to make sure that climbing roses are well protected from the wind, so choose a spot that isn't too breezy for your roses.

Against a wall

Nearly any wall is suitable for climbing roses. The only walls you should avoid are walls that are very sheltered or face south. South-facing walls can get too warm and cause the roses to dry out. To plant climbing roses against a wall:

  1. Attach a climbing frame to the wall. Leave 2 cm between the lattice and the wall for air circulation.
  2. Plant your roses about 30 cm away from the wall — any closer to the wall and the soil will be too dry.
  3. Choose four or five main branches to tie your roses to the bars.
  4. Give your roses plenty of water.

Along a pergola or obelisk

Roses can be grown on a pergola instead of a wall. To do this, plant several roses on both sides of the pergola so that they will come together to form a roof. Roses that are well placed along the structure of a pergola yield excellent results within a year. Within three years, you'll get the full effect: a colourful roof of roses.

Planting roses in a pot

Potted rose bushes

In principle, all roses can also be planted in a nice planter. Unlike perennials, rose roots grow deep, not wide. Once their roots hit the bottom, the plants stop growing, so always make sure that you use a large pot and regularly adjust the pot size to the growth of your roses. Roses that don't grow any higher than 80 cm are the best suited for planting in pots. Please note: roses growing in a pot need (even) more water.
To make it as easy as possible, here are some helpful tips:

  • Make sure that you use a pot with drainage holes
  • Place a layer of pot shards or hydro grains at the bottom of the pot.
  • Sprinkle a layer of rose potting soil over this.
  • Make sure that the grafting point (where the stems are attached to the root) is also covered with rose potting soil to prevent frost damage to the plant.
  • Fill up the rest of the planting hole and press this down firmly.
  • Give plenty of water!

Caring for roses

Roses love a splash of water. Normally they get enough from the rain, but give them a little extra water during dry spells. Roses also need a lot of food because they grow so quickly. Between April and July it is advisable to give them rose fertiliser about every three weeks. For example, try rose fertiliser to help your roses flourish even more.

Additionally, you should prune your roses every summer after they bloom. Snip away any spent flowers and leaves so that all the energy can go to the new blooms. There is a special way to prune each type of rose. Read more about this on our pruning page.

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