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Roses & rose growing

Help solve your gardening problem. Here are the answers to some commonly asked gardening questions about roses, rose care and rose growing with hints, tips and advice.

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We have a yellow rose that we had to move. Prior to the move it blossomed profusely. Two years after the move it has failed to have a single bud but grows very well. We have tried banana peel, Epsom salts, coffee grounds, MiracleGro, you name it, but no blossom. What do you recommend?

Depending on when the plant was moved, and how, it could simply be ‘sulking’ after the move - some plants do take a while to settle in after being moved, especially if they are quite old.

Your feeding regime seems a bit haphazard! MiracleGro is a fairly high nitrogen feed that can encourage growth at the expense of flowers. I would leave off feeding with any of the things you mention and swop to a granular rose fertiliser. Give a feed in early spring and another one in late June/early July.

This spring I planted a climbing rose in a 33cm (13in) plastic tub. Should I plant it in the garden or can I leave it in the pot?

Climbing roses are suitable for growing permanently in a pot - providing the pot is big enough. Your 33cm (13in) diameter pot is only suitable for a short period. So, you would do better replanting it into something at least 45-60cm (18in-2ft) in diameter, such as a half oak barrel, using a John Innes No 3 compost.

If this isn't suitable then plant out the rose in the garden.

Do I need to prune my rose bushes?

Bush roses (hybrid teas and floribundas) should be pruned from late February to early March. It's best to wait until the top buds have started shooting, and then prune to lower dormant buds.

If the top buds shoot any earlier than now, don't be tempted to prune any earlier - very cold, frosty weather can damage the shoots and if you've pruned away most of the dormant buds there won't be many left to replace them.

Feeding - with a specific, granular rose fertiliser (plenty of nitrogen but high in potash and containing magnesium) - should be carried out immediately after pruning.

If rust, mildew or blackspot have been a problem, spray with a rose fungicide after pruning and repeat regularly. Fungicides act as a protectant - there's no point waiting until the diseases get hold and then try to eradicate them - it won't work.

My roses are suffering terribly from black spot and rust, yet I have sprayed them a couple of times with a recommended fungicide. What's going wrong?

Once a plant is severely affected by a disease it is often very difficult to control - fungicides are usually used as a protectant not a cure.

Rose rust and black spot will be very difficult to control once the leaves are badly infected. You should start your spraying programme in late winter/early spring treating the leaves just as they are beginning to emerge; RoseClear Ultra is particularly effective against these diseases.

Pick up and destroy badly affected leaves, especially in the autumn, as the disease spores will overwinter on them in the soil. In winter, prune back the stems by up to half to remove diseased wood, then spray the rest of the plant.

I am having a difficult time getting my 'Belle of Portugal' (old climbing rose) to bloom. Do you know how to prune it properly to get it to bloom?

'Belle Portugaise' doesn't have a very hardy constitution. It is essential that it is planted in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot.

Train the main shoots horizontally to form a framework. The sideshoots from these will produce flowers and should be pruned back hard (to a couple of inches) in spring.

Feed in March and June with a granular rose fertiliser.

How do I prune my shrub rose? It's a 'Buff Beauty,' which is a hybrid musk rose. I want to train it against a wall.

The best time to prune and train is in spring. The first aim must be to set up a series of branches to make the framework of the plant. These should be tied to the support in either a fan shape or horizontally; the latter is better as it helps encourage flowers.

Don't worry too much about pruning for flowers in subsequent years; 'Buff Beauty' won't need regular pruning after the framework is built up - just remove really old non-flowering wood.

I have 800 roses in a formal garden, due to have irrigation supplied, what would be the best system required i.e. 100% coverage in rose beds at 3-4 inches high, the gardener on site has informed us that we do not need to water the roses, is this correct?

Roses are usually very capable of surviving without regular watering once they are established. In the first year they can, like all shrubs, become very reliant on 'normal' supplies of water. So, it's a matter of can you survive watering them by hand or sprinkler during that first year. After that time it would only be severe and prolonged periods of drought that would cause any problems.

If you are going to install a watering system, a trickle one that delivers water directly to the roots is the best type to choose.

When watering make sure the soil gets a good soak. One really good soaking once a week, rather than a 'spit' every day is far better; you need to get the water right down to the roots - maybe to a depth of 38cm (15in).

Don't forget that a good mulch of bark or similar will help maintain soil moisture levels. You will need a thickness of about 7.5cm (3in) for best results.

I have a 'Just Joey' rose planted in my border which receives sun from the early morning until just after lunch, but although it flowered last year I have had no flowers this year but plenty of small leaves on the stems! I have a clematis 'Bill Mackenzie' growing from behind this rose (which I am contemplating cutting back and installing an obelisk for it to grow up).

I also have the climbing rose 'Schoolgirl' in the same border and this has flowered this year but the flowers only seem to last about two days at the most.

Also can you recommend any thornless roses I could grow in pots as my garden is only 32 foot wide by 22 foot long and I only have room now for smaller plants now!?

I can't see any reason why your 'Just Joey' didn't flower this year - there is nothing in what you've told me that gives any clues.

But I suggest the following:

Don't hard prune in February/March. Simply tidy over the bush, removing about one-third of long shoots to just above a bud; aim for a plant that is about 75cm (30in) tall once you've finished. Feed with a granular rose fertiliser after pruning and again in late June.

Keep the plant well watered during dry spells and mulch with compost or well-rotted manure.

Then keep your fingers crossed!!!

The blooms of 'Schoolgirl' aren't that long lasting, but dry soil and cold winds (or both) will seriously reduce the time the blooms stay open.

There are very few thornless roses. 'Iceberg' is relatively thorn free. There is a series of American thornless roses, called the Smooth series - 'Smooth Angel', 'Smooth Princess' etc. Being American they aren't completely used to our climate, but they're OK in warm sunny spots.


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