Roses are not to be trumped in terms of flower splendour. Small or large flowers, filled or unfilled, fragrant or unscented, white, pink, pink, red, orange, yellow or violet, single flowering in early summer or repeated flowering until October – there are roses to suit every taste and every place of use. They belong to the rose family (Rosaceae) and are at the same time their name giving plant genus (Rosa). numerous wild roses like the dog rose (Rosa canina) or the wine rose (Rosa rubiginosa) are native to us. In Central Europe, the native wild roses were already used by Celts and Teutons, as rose hip finds in settlements show. In the Middle Ages the Apothekerrose (Rosa gallica ‘Officinalis’) was cultivated as a medicinal plant. With the arrival of species from Asia, Africa and Persia, rose-growing began in the 16th and 17th centuries after the birth of Christ, because now important characteristics such as more frequently flowering and tufted flowering as well as yellow flowering could be crossed into our native wild roses. Whereas until a few decades ago the rose was still regarded as a somewhat bitchy diva and once one had to almost stand by with sprays to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew and sooty stars, now more and more garden lovers dare to try new, healthy, robust and flowering rose varieties, which thrive splendidly even without too much care. Breeders today attach great importance to these qualities and bring numerous varieties onto the market that meet the highest requirements of the ADR seal: This predicate is only awarded to the healthiest, most robust varieties after several years of testing and is therefore a good guide in deciding which roses to plant in your home garden.
But it is not the better health of the plants alone that has helped the roses to gain popularity in recent years. At the same time, another trend developed that began in England: nostalgically densely filled, wonderfully fragrant flowers reminiscent of historic varieties. Rose lovers from all over the world jumped at it, and the breeders consequently began to combine both characteristics. The result is impressive: In recent years, more and more roses have come onto the market that not only convince with their eyes and nose, but also score points for their flowering season and health. In addition to the popular nostalgic flowers, there is also a small trend towards natural-looking, simple flowers, reminiscent of wild roses, which appear throughout the summer on small, richly branched shrubs and attract numerous insects. The roses are also very popular as a bee pasture. A further upward trend can be seen recently, especially in the noble roses, which for many years have fallen behind the bushy growing, lush flowering bed roses in popularity. Here, too, new breeds offer better characteristics. In the meantime, some varieties have even received the coveted ADR seal – unthinkable for noble roses a few years ago.
Picture gallery: The most beautiful “blue” roses
The colour palette of rose petals is so large that, apart from blue tones, no wishes remain unfulfilled. The number of petals, the shape and size of the flowers as well as the intensity of their scent also provide countless flower variations. Whether small covering the ground or climbing several metres high: the variety does not end with the flower shapes and colours, but also extends to the numerous growth forms, by means of which the roses are divided into different classes. However, these borders blur a little in modern breeding, especially between small shrub roses and bed roses.
The flower is more important for many hobby gardeners, because more and more roses are bought flowering in a pot, and the exact assignment to a rose class is pushed into the background. Noble, bedding, small shrub and dwarf sizes all thrive in the bed, and only that counts when it comes to selection. Strongly growing shrub roses can be grown as small climbing roses, weaker growing climbing roses also as lush shrubs. For many, compact growth is important in their selection, which is certainly due partly to the ever smaller gardens, but also partly to the trend to combine roses with filigree shrubs and grasses.
To give you a clue when choosing the perfect rose variety, here you will find an overview of the most common growth types.
The flowering wonders are also called climber. They reach a height of about three meters and grow upright with strong shoots. The shape and size of the flowers vary and are reminiscent of bed roses in many varieties. Climbing roses are more often blooming and need vine arches and other scaffolding to support them on their way up.
The soft shoots of the Rambler, also called climbing roses, like to look for hold in trees. Many older varieties flower only once over abundantly in early summer for a few weeks, grow the rest of the summer and reach heights of up to six meters and more. They are therefore not suitable for the greening of normal arches. Newer varieties that flower throughout the summer and thus remain smaller are therefore very popular.
The minis under the roses grow up to about 30 centimetres high and are usually more often in bloom. Their flowers look like little noble roses. They are in good hands in pots, but robust varieties also grow in beds.
Groundcover roses can quickly cover large areas growing flat with long shoots. They bloom from spring to autumn, grow to about 50 centimetres high and, depending on the variety, their flowers are unfilled, half-filled or full. They are also often assigned to the small shrub roses.
Small shrub roses are very variable in their use. They can be used as a shrub, a hedge, as part of a flowering border, or even as a ground cover. They grow to about 60 to 80 centimetres in height, are robust, more frequently flowering and available in many colours and flower variants.
Bush rose ‘Westerland’ (left), English fragrant rose ‘Charles Darwin’ (right)
The flowering shrubs, which are between one and two metres high and used as solitaires, in mixed hedges or as pure rose hedges, promise lush flowering abundance. A distinction is made between the modern, more frequently flowering shrub roses with single or double flowers and the old roses, most of which flower only once, but score points with densely double, nostalgic, strongly fragrant flowers. Most of the roses of the English breeder David Austin are also classified as shrub roses.
The natural charm of their simple flowers and their robustness convince many garden owners. In autumn they often adorn themselves with rose hips. The disadvantages: They bloom only once in spring and with a height of up to three metres they need plenty of space to grow.
Large, elegant single flowers on long stems offer noble roses, also called tea hybrids, and are therefore not only suitable for beds, but also as cut flowers. They grow to a height of about 100 centimetres, bear double flowers and are more frequently blooming. Many also smell very intense. In the bed, they are best shown off together with suitable accompanying shrubs, which conceal their often somewhat stiff growth habit. Some newer varieties grow more compactly and also form their flowers in clusters.
Beetroses carry their flowers in large tufts, with colours and flower forms all variants are available. However, many varieties do not or only weakly smell. Nevertheless, they are one of the most popular groups of roses because of their joy of flowering from early summer into autumn and their flower size. They grow between 50 and 80 centimetres high.
In flower beds or in pots, stem roses with a stem height of 40, 60 or 90 centimetres are welcome. For the relatively compact crowns, for example, small shrub roses, bed roses, noble roses or shrub roses are grafted onto the trunk.
Cascade roses offer a picturesque sight, for which long-drawn-out ground-cover roses or weakly growing climbing roses are grafted to stems about 140 centimetres high. Numerous varieties offer a wide variety of colours and flower shapes.
Roses are suitable for a wide variety of garden styles and areas. The classic form of use for bedding and precious roses is the rose bed, either as a pure rose planting or – in a more modern form – as a combination of different types of roses with other small flowering shrubs, bedding shrubs, ornamental grasses and summer flowers. With climbing roses you can plant rose arches, with the growing rambler roses also the crowns of old fruit trees. Ground-cover and small shrub roses are used as greening plants, also in public areas. Dwarf sizes can be kept well in pots and other plant containers. In the nature garden, the wild forms or near-natural old breeding roses are in demand. You can even create colourful flower hedges and borders from robust wild and shrub roses, such as the hedges from the potato rose (Rosa rugosa) which are common in Scandinavia.
Step by step: Planting bed roses
Roses are offered root naked, baled (roots are loosely wrapped in soil and packaging material) and potted with bales. While potted roses can be planted at any time, this time is limited to spring and autumn for the cheaper root product. Before planting, these leafless plants are completely placed in water for several hours so that shoots and roots are sufficiently moist for a better start in the soil. Rose varieties are grafted by the breeder by oculation, i.e. insertion of an eye, onto robust wild rose rootstocks. This thickened grafting area between brown roots and green shoots must always be five centimetres below the earth’s surface to protect against frost, even when planted in pots and purchased pot roses that are planted out in the garden. Therefore, a sufficiently deep hole must be dug in which the roots fit without bending over. After filling the planting hole, watering is started immediately. To ensure that sufficient water seeps away in the root area, it has proved successful to pile up a small watering rim around the plant, which prevents the water from flowing off sideways. By the way, no fertiliser is administered during planting. The rose should first go on a season-long “search for food” itself and thereby form as many new fine roots as possible. “If you feed it too early, it stays lazy and does not grow in sufficiently.
Most rose classes are pruned back each year, so how they are pruned depends heavily on their growth and purpose. As a general rule, diseased and dead shoots as well as shoots growing too densely or transversely are removed in any case. No stumps should be left behind. The main pruning in early spring mainly concerns dwarf, beetroot and noble roses. At this point, one orients oneself towards the forsythia blossom in the region: if this starts to blossom, one removes the winter protection from the roses and cuts back the shoots to a height of about 15 to 20 centimetres. They are always cut diagonally about one centimeter above an outwardly directed leaf bud (eye). shrub roses, small shrub roses and climbing roses are cut back more as needed and not as much. Groundcover roses can be reduced to a height of about 15 centimetres every few years. Single-flowering roses are thinned out directly after flowering in summer. If you would cut them in spring, you would also remove the flower bases.
In winter, roses are protected from sub-zero temperatures, cold drying winds and misleading winter sun. For this purpose, the plant base is heaped up about as high as a molehill with soil and the shoots are covered like a tent with needle twigs. In the case of stem roses, the grafting site lies directly below the crown and is therefore particularly susceptible to frost. Here the whole crown is covered with sackcloth up to this sensitive area, which can also be filled with straw or brushwood. Climbing roses can be covered with needle twigs in scale-like layers (from bottom to top). Large shrub roses are only piled up, wild roses do not need to be protected at all, especially as they do not have a grafting place. The winter protection is only removed again in the following spring.
Further care tips
How to conserve roses
❶ First of all you need glycerine from the pharmacy.
❷ Now mix 1 part glycerine with 2 parts warm tap water. You must stir the solution well. The glycerine-water mixture should be sufficient for the first filling of the vase and as irrigation water to refill the used liquid for the next two weeks.
❸ Now cut the stems of the roses and accessories fresh before treatment.
❹ Now place the bouquet of roses in the vase filled with the mixture. The glycerine then replaces the water in the plant’s fluid system. The excess water of the rose evaporates. The glycerine then remains in the plants as a preservative.
❺ When no more glycerine droplets emerge from the flower tips, the conservation is complete. Now all you have to do is remove the liquid from the vase.
How to handle conserved roses correctly
Now make sure that the roses no longer come into contact with water. It is therefore best to place the bouquet of roses in a vase filled with dry sand. Do not bring your preserved plants outside either. They do not tolerate high humidity and direct sunlight.
Tip: You should dust the roses occasionally with a dust cloth or fine-haired brush. So you can enjoy the constant flowering of your bouquet.
Advantages of conservation
The roses preserved with glycerine are very temperature compatible. Temperatures from a few plus degrees up to 50 degrees Celsius are no problem. Draught-endangered places and insufficient daylight are also no danger for the preserved roses. So this is a much better method than drying flowers.
Roses grow a lot every year and produce a lot of flowers. This only works in the long run if the rose gets enough nutrients in the form of rose fertilizers. The most suitable fertilizer is an easily dosed long-term rose fertilizer, which is administered twice a year: once in spring, when the plants are heaped up and about to sprout, and a second time in June, when the first flowering pile is weakening. If fertilized now, the plant has enough nutrients for further flowers until autumn. Later than at the beginning of July you should not fertilize, because otherwise the new shoots are not yet mature enough when the first frosts come, and can be damaged by them.
If you want to multiply roses, you have several methods to choose from. Most varieties are propagated by the breeder through grafting. At home you can try to propagate robust small shrub or ground-cover roses as well as wild roses via cuttings. In June, approximately 5 to 10 centimeter long middle pieces with at least three leaves are cut from unwoody shoots. All but the upper two leaves are removed. The cuttings are put into an earth-sand mixture up to the leaves, poured on and covered with a transparent cover. The pot is then lightly placed and kept moist. The young plants are wintered frost-free and planted out in spring. Some climbing roses can be multiplied by Steckhölzer. To do this, about 20 centimetres long, woody, leafless shoots are inserted so deeply into the garden soil that only the top eye looks out, and then kept moist.
You can’t get enough of Beetroses or want to propagate a particularly beautiful variety? In our practice video, we show you step by step how you can multiply bed roses with wood.
How to successfully multiply Beetroses with woods is explained in the following video.Credit: our store/Alexander Buggisch / Producer: Dieke van Dieken
Diseases and pests
Roses that have been grafted are considered susceptible to fungal diseases. In the case of newer breeds, however, care is taken to ensure that only robust species come onto the market. In the catalogues of rose growers this is usually indicated with a dot or star system. Also an award with the ADR predicate is noted here and a further hint that one can do without spraying agents with these kinds. In case of poor location or susceptible varieties, however, powdery mildew, downy mildew, sooty mildew, rose rust or grey mould can appear, which are then treated with appropriate fungicides from the specialist trade. The rose also has animal enemies, especially aphids. Here often a shower with the water hose or a wiping with the fingers helps. If there are too many, there are chemical or natural spraying agents, as with rose cicadas or spider mites, which can contain the infestation. Leaves in the margins of which the larvae of the rose leaf roller wasps have wrapped themselves, or shoots in which the rose shoot drill has eaten its way, are immediately removed and disposed of in household waste before further infestation with insecticides is slowed down.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.