The 5 Ps for easy Rose Growing

1. Planning 2. Preparation 3. Planting 4. Preservation 5. Pruning

1. Planning

Try to plan well in advance of purchasing your plants. Roses come in a multitude of sizes, habits and colours. They prefer a sunny position and a neutral or slightly acidic well drained soil. Try not to plant where the roots will be in competition with other plants. Certain varieties will tolerate a certain degree of shade and some will thrive in poor soils. Do your research.


We have a hardiness rating in all our rose descriptions, these should be considered especially if located in very cold winters. The overwhelming majority of our roses will survive in all UK climates, with only handful which might struggle to grow in temperatures below -12°C. Most UK growers should be aware of roses listed as zone 8, these will need a well-sheltered position (particularly from strong winds) or ideally grown in a conservatory or orangery. The lower the number the hardier it is, with Zone 3 being able to withstand temperatures down to -40°C.

3: – 40 to -34°C. 4: -34 to -29°C. 5: -29 to -23°C. 6: -23 to -18°C. 7: -18 to -12°C. 8: -12 to -7°C.

2. Preparation

The area to be planted should be free from weeds and deeply dug with the addition of plenty of organic matter such as garden compost. Soil that has previously grown roses should be removed to a depth of 45cms and replaced with good soil from elsewhere. Try to complete this well in advance to allow the soil to settle, especially if mixing in well-rotted manure.

3. Planting

If the final destination is a container we suggest using a loam based compost such as John Innes no.3 and for the container to be knee-height, 40cm-50cm as a minimum. Head to our Roses Ideal for Container page to choose the right cultivars.

Planting Bare Root Roses. These are roses dug up in the dormant season (November-March). They will arrive tied together in a plastic bag which has been enclosed in a wax-lined paper sack. If conditions are unsuitable for planting immediately e.g. frosty or very wet then they can be left unopened in a cool and dry location such as a shed, for up to 1 week. If you are ready to plant open the bag and untie any string, if the roots appear dry then soak in a bucket of water for several hours. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the roots without cramping. Mix in a good handful of bone meal or rose fertilizer with the excavated soil. Spread the roots out in the hole and gradually replace the soil firming well so the union (where the roots meet the shoots) is 3-4cms below soil level. Water well.

Planting Potted Roses. These can be planted all year round. Ensure the rose is well rooted in the pot (freshly potted roses are best left until they have established a good root ball) and the compost is moist before planting. Prepare a planting hole 45cms deep and across adding well- rotted organic matter and a handful of bone meal or rose fertilizer to the soil. Remove the pot and tease out a few of the outer roots. Place root ball in hole and replace soil firming well so the union is at or just below soil level. Water generously.

The use of mycorrhizal fungi such as Rootgrow when planting has been shown to aid the establishment of all roses and help prevent rose replant disease. (See Rose Care Products for more information)

4. Preservation

Roses can be long lived plants provided they are properly maintained. They require plenty of moisture and nutrients to stay healthy and flourish. In dry spells water well especially in the first few years after planting. The application of a deep mulch (5cms) every spring will help retain water and supress weeds. Feed twice a year on heavy soils (March and June) and more regularly on lighter soils with a good rose fertiliser, blood, fish and bone or special formula’s such as After Plant Rose Food. Dead heading roses can induce them to repeat flower quicker and keep them looking tidy. Do this by cutting off the spent flower heads down to just above the leak axil below. Do not dead head if you want hips. Pests and diseases if they do occur are best prevented by spraying early on in the growing season.

5. Pruning. How to prune roses

This will help maintain a productive, well balanced, healthy and long lived plant. Different rose types require different strategies.

Once flowering shrub roses (e.g. species, alba, gallica, centifolia, damask and moss). These flower on old wood so require little pruning until well established. Then remove one or two of the very oldest stems annually (after flowering in July) and a shortening of the stems by up to 1/3rd in spring to tidy and shape the plant.

Repeat flowering shrub roses. Best pruned in February/March. In the first year prune very lightly, reducing the stems by no more the 1/3rd. In subsequent years growths can be reduced by up to a ½ to leave a shapely open centred plant.

Climbing and Rambling roses. These both require tying to a support in order to climb. They also require some training in order to maximise their potential. Climbing roses generally repeat flower and produce more flowers if trained horizontally. This is achieved by bending over and tying in new shoots to their supports until they fill the allotted space. Do this in the autumn when the canes are more flexible. If training up pillars and posts twist the stems around the uprights. Any side shoots that have flowered can be reduced by 2/3rds in the spring. Once fully established it is worth removing some of the oldest stems completely in spring to encourage fresh basal growth. Ramblers generally only flower once and only produce flowers on old wood. They will only require pruning once fully established having out grown their allotted space. Remove one or two of the oldest canes completely either after flowering or in the spring. Other growth can be tied in or cut back to keep the plant tidy.