Flowers How To

How to Grow Roses your Neighbours will Envy: The Ultimate Guide

If you want to grow the types of roses that will make your neighbours green with envy, then you’re at the right place.

In this guide, we’re going to take you by the hand and teach you everything you need to know to make growing roses a cinch.

We’ll start by diving into the basics of what makes a rose a rose. Then we’ll help you to understand what sort of roses actually exist.

Next, you’ll learn which of those roses is right for you and how to grow them so you maximise their potential.

To round out the guide, we’ll show you some pictures of some of the world’s best rose gardens and answer as many frequently asked questions as we can get our hands on.

Of course, if you decide that it’s all too much work, but would still love to have some cut roses around the house, then maybe we can help with that.

So whether you just want to grow a couple of roses for pleasure, or turn rose growing into a serious hobby, you’ll find everything you need (and probably some stuff you don’t!) in the guide below!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Roses 101

Before we look at how to grow roses, it’s useful to learn about where roses come from and what makes a rose a rose. In this chapter, we’ll be looking at how modern roses came to be, as well as a bunch of details that few people know.

History of the Rose

Roses have existed on this planet in one form or another for millions of years. No one knows when humans began to appreciate them, but they have been cultivated by ancient civilisations all over the world.

There’s evidence to suggest that roses were valued by ancient people in places like China, Babylon (where they were said to be part of the famous Hanging Gardens), Persia, Egypt and even Europe.

Interestingly enough, no native species of rose has ever been found in the Southern Hemisphere, despite roses from the Northern Hemisphere growing there quite well.

In ancient Egypt, where roses were thought to be a connection between this life and the afterlife, the goddess Isis required worshipers to offer her roses.

The Greeks, too, had some interesting thoughts on roses. It was said that roses were red because, in a rush to save her dying lover Adonis, Aphrodite cut her foot on some rose thorns.

The ancient Greeks also had a story that explained why roses had thorns; they believed that while Eros was literally taking time to smell the roses, a bee flew out and stung him on the nose.

Eros, in a fit of rage, took revenge on the rose bush and shot it full of arrows. While it may have been a creative story, it doesn’t really fit in with the modern theory that roses evolved to have thorns to protect them from being eaten by animals that were attracted by their scent.

Eros retaliating against the rose

Later in history, roses would continue to be popular all around the world. When the English houses of Lancaster and York went to war, roses were used to symbolise both houses.

When Shakespeare needed to come up with a witty metaphor, he often resorted to using the rose.

However, when it comes to the modern rose, things really began to take off in the 19th century. It was around this time that Europeans began to trade with the Chinese and one of the things they brought back from their journeys to the Orient were roses.

This would be more significant than those traders ever imagined. At that time, roses only bloomed once a year; in Spring. However, the Chinese roses bloomed in Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Keen horticulturalists, sensing an opportunity, began the process of hybridisation and created the modern rose. European roses contributed scent, shape and form, while the Chinese roses added perpetual bloom and hardiness.

Another significant factor in the popularity of modern roses was Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s first wife.

While her husband was away on the Egyptian campaign, she bought a chateau outside Paris called Malmaison.

Malmaison today

With her husband away at war, she passed her time by collecting flora and fauna from all over the world. And despite the variety of plants and flowers at her disposal, it was said that her favourite flower was the rose.

Over a period of about a decade, Josephine built her rose collection, which would eventually become the world’s largest and stay so for at least a century.

Being the wife of the Emperor had some privileges; it was said that Napoleon had ordered his navy to confiscate any flowers it came across while at sea and that while Britain was under naval blockade, Josephine’s large orders from British nurseries were allowed through to help her grow her collection.

Scientific Names & Rose Naming Conventions

If you’re going to be spending some time talking about roses, it helps to have an understanding of their naming conventions so you don’t become lost.

Roses belong to a genus (which is like a sub-category) called Rosa, which in turn belongs to the family called Rosaceae.

In botany, plants are generally given two names, much like most people. The first name is the genus name, which is italicised and capitalised. It is then followed by the species name. Some roses will have a third name which indicates its variety.

However, there’s no need to learn all of these or to get too concerned; after all most modern roses are not species roses and therefore are given regular names, which tend to be easier to remember.

Anatomy of a Rose

In most plants, the flowers that we see are actually the flower’s way of reproducing; and the rose is no different. And while some plants require pollinators to help them procreate, a rose flower contains both male and female parts so it’s able to self-pollinate.

How that works is quite simple; the male part of the flower called the stamen, produce pollen that is then collected by the female part of the plant, called the pistil. The pollen works its way down to the eggs where it fertilises them and begins the process of reproduction.

Petal Particulars

While understanding how roses propagate might be interesting, most people are interested in roses for their ornamental value, which is mostly derived from the petals.

If you think about a rose, the petals that make up the flower are probably what comes to mind. Yet there’s more to petals than meets the eye. For starters, not all roses have the same number of petals.

Not even close in fact!

Some roses have so few petals that you probably wouldn’t even recognise it as a rose. And others have so many petals that it more closely resembles a colourful cabbage than what most people consider a rose.

However, most roses that you come across can be quickly categorised as one of three types.

If you’d like to see more examples of different petal categories, the National Gardening Association has some great ones.

Sitting immediately outside the petals are what are called the sepals. While some people mistake these for petals, they actually serve the purpose of protecting the petals and can be quite pretty in and of themselves. Once the flower opens, you can peel these off if you desire.

Exhibition vs. Decorative Roses

If you get into growing roses as a hobby, you may want to understand the difference between exhibition (formal) and decorative (informal) roses.

Roses with many petals and a petal form generally considered superior are called exhibition roses. These are what most people think of when they think of roses. The petals are usually symmetrical and the centre of the rose should be high.

Decorative roses are the opposite. They often have fewer leaves and lower centres. And while many hardcore enthusiasts consider them to be inferior, there’s nothing holding you back from growing these yourself if you so please.

Growing roses is about doing something that brings you pleasure, so make sure you grow whatever you like.

Colours of Roses

Roses can be found in all sorts of colours, but they’re most typically soft reds, pinks, orange, yellow and white.

What about rainbow roses? While rainbow roses are something we sell, they don’t actually exist in nature. Nor have hybridisers been able to create them. That said, how they’re created is quite interesting.

While some people think that they’re made by dipping the petals into a dye, this process actually wouldn’t work very well. The process they actually use takes advantage of how flowers naturally work.

First, the stem is cut into several sections. Then, each sliver of the stem is placed into water that has been dyed a certain colour. The stem then drinks up the dyed water which then finds its way to the petals.

Quite clever isn’t it?

What about black roses? Do black roses exist in nature? Despite seeing black roses in shops and all over the internet, black roses do not exist in nature. While plenty of people have tried to create them, it’s thought that even if they’re successful in creating black flowers, that they absorb too much sunlight that the flower dies before it gets the chance to open.

Black roses that you’ve seen are either painted like that, or they use the same technique that we mentioned with the rainbow roses; they’re put into vases filled with black water and the colour finds its way to the petals eventually.

Recurrent vs. Non-Recurrent Roses

As mentioned above, the roses that are native to Europe tended to bloom once a year and the roses brought over from China tended to bloom a few times a year. Most modern roses are hybrids of these two, so how often they bloom varies from rose to rose.

Most modern roses, such as hybrid teas and floribundas (more on these soon!), are everblooming, which means that the flowers continue to bloom from Spring to Autumn.

However, many of the original European (or old roses) are what are called recurrent roses, so they only bloom once in Spring and once again in Autumn.

Roses that only bloom once a season are called non-recurrent and are usually old garden roses. If you’re a fan of the flowers, you might wonder why people would even bother with these types of roses, but the answer is because the resulting blooms can be really beautiful; it’s as if they decide to go out in a blaze of glory.

So there’s no right choice between recurrent and non-recurrent roses; the only thing that matters is your preference.

Rose Scent

A lovely scent is not the main reason most people grow roses, but it’s certainly a factor. It’s thought that approximately a quarter of roses have no fragrance, a fifth or so have strong scents and the remainder are somewhere in the middle.

While all the parts of the rose can be fragrant, it’s the petals that tend to contain the strongest scents.

The best-scented roses can be awarded the James Alexander Gamble Fragrance award. According to the American Rose Society:

“The James Alexander Gamble Fragrance Medal is awarded to outstanding new, very fragrant roses. The selection is made by the ARS Prizes and Awards Committee for the rose considered the most fragrant in municipal and private gardens throughout the United States over a five-year period. The rose must be registered and must be rated at least 7.5 in the Handbook for Selecting Roses. It is not mandatory that a rose be selected yearly for this medal”

Uses for Roses Around the World

Roses are predominantly grown for their ornamental value, but that’s not the only use people have for them.

The scents of a rose can be turned into perfume by a process of steam distillation.

Some lovely examples of rose hips

The fruit of the rose, called a rose hip, is commonly made into jams and spreads, particularly in the Middle-East.

Chinese roses have long been part of Chinese medicine, where they are often used to treat stomach disorders.  

Rose Glossary

If you’re going to be growing roses and learning as much about them as you can, then you’ll want to get your head around some common rose terms. Here are a couple of our favourite glossaries that you might want to familiarise yourself with:

Rose Gardening Terminology from Planet Natural

Glossary of Rose Terms from Regan Nursery

Chapter 2: The Many Types of Roses

As you may begin to feel already, there’s more to the ordinary rose than many people realise. Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of roses it’s time to delve a little deeper into the topic of the different types of roses.

Only once you are familiar with all the different types are you able to figure out which roses you should grow and this will be the focus of the next chapter in our guide.

While there are lots of ways to categorise roses, in this chapter we’re going to focus on the eight most common types of roses; you’ll learn what each type is, where they came from, what they look like and a few other useful tidbits of information.

Roses are typically put into one of eight categories

Hybrid Tea Roses

Hybrid tea roses first came into being in 1867, after a French nursery hybridised two old-garden roses.

Since their introduction, it’s fair to say that hybrid tea roses have not only become the most popular rose in the world, but also the most popular flower! Considering the popularity of other flowers worldwide (such as gerberas and lilies), this is quite the achievement.

This is in part due to hybrid teas making up the majority of cut roses around the world. While other types of roses are used as well, nothing is quite as common as the hybrid tea.

Hybrid teas are known for having large flowers that grow one per stem. The bush itself can grow quite tall, with heights usually ranging between 1 and 1.5 metres and the shape of the bush (what rose growers call the habit) is upright.

And while the shape of the bush is fine, it’s the flowers that have made the hybrid tea as popular as it is today. The flowers bloom continually throughout the season and are considered to have good exhibition form (see the previous chapter) with flowers that have a high centre.

In addition to the flowers being large and with plenty of petals (many have more than 50 petals per flower!), hybrid tea flowers are also known for their fragrance.

Grandiflora Roses

Grandifloras, as the name suggests, are usually tall growing plants with flowers that closely resemble hybrid tea flowers, but are smaller. Where hybrid tea flowers grow one to a stem, Grandiflora flowers grow in a cluster, with several flowers per stem.

These roses are particularly great if you want lots of visual impact in your garden. They’re also popular for cut roses.

Whether or not you consider Grandiflora to be their own class of rose depends on where you live. In some parts of the world, they are, in others they aren’t, which shows you how similar many of these types are.

Polyantha Roses

Polyanthas were created in the late 19th century by the same guy who created the first hybrid teas and were the forerunners of the more recent floribunda.

The bush itself tends to be smaller than for most roses, with heights of 60-90cm being normal. They tend to have small flowers that grow in clusters on the stem and bloom continually throughout the season.

If you like smaller bushes but still want plenty of flowers, polyanthas are a good choice.

Floribunda Roses

Floribunda roses came about after someone crossed a polyantha with a hybrid tea. They seemed to inherit the bush size of the hybrid tea, with sizes of around 1-1.5 metres. As the name suggests, floribundas offer flowers in abundance.

Their flowers grow in large clusters (which they inherited from polyanthas) while the flowers themselves tend to resemble those from hybrid teas. As a result, the flowers are great as cut flowers.

Another feature of floribundas that makes them popular in the rose world is that they’re particularly easy to grow.

Miniature Roses

Miniature roses are just like regular roses with one exception; they’re smaller. This may not come as a surprise given the name, but many people assume that they’re completely different when in fact they really only differ by size.

They’ll often be found growing in sizes of 15-90cm. And even though the size of the bush may be small, the leaves and flower are in proportion to the rest of the bush. This makes them very popular, particularly with people who have limited space in their gardens.

They’re ideal if you’re low on space and you can even grow them in pots if you prefer. And despite being small, they’re also quite tough, so don’t be afraid of killing them just because they’re small.

One thing to note is that more frequent watering might be required if you live in an area where the soil gets dry often. Because miniature roses have smaller root structures, they sometimes need a bit of extra help getting water at times.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses, despite what many think, are not vines in the true sense of the word. If left to their own devices, they’ll end up growing as large shrubs. What makes them climbing roses is their long canes, which can grow up to six metres in length.

Because of this feature, climbing roses can be trained to grow over trellises or across walls. They just need some help being attached to things.

They’re most commonly used to take up space on a wall, fence or trellis.

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses include a very diverse range of plants, so it’s hard to explain what separates them from the rest of the roses. However, they do tend to have a long season of bloom, which, combined with the shape of their bush, makes them great as landscape plants.

Because they’re lower to the ground than most other roses, yet much more spread out than miniatures, they are great for ground cover or hedges.

In addition, shrub roses tend to be quite hardy as well, which is helpful if you’re not exactly a green thumb.

Old Garden

The name “Old Garden” is used to refer to roses that were popular before the 20th century. A huge amount of hybridisation has occurred since then, so old garden roses tend to be a bit closer to nature.

That said, some people wrongly believe that old garden roses are actually species roses (that is, roses that are found naturally in the wild). While many are actually species roses, old garden roses tend to be a mix of both species and hybrids.

And while old garden used to be the most popular type of rose found in gardens, since the introduction of more and more hybrids, this is no longer true. However, since these are the roses that were used as breeding stock for the more modern roses you see today, there’s a bit of old garden in every rose.

Chapter 3: The Right Roses for You

Now you understand the basics of what makes a rose a rose, as well as a few different types of roses, it’s time to think about how to find the right roses for you.

Your wants and needs are going to be different to everyone else who reads this guide which means there’s no one answer here.  So instead of providing hard recommendations, it’s our aim to help you figure it out for yourself.

Where to Buy Roses

If you’ve decided on growing some roses in your garden, then it follows that you’ll need to find a place to buy them.

While some plants are quite tricky to get your hands on, getting your hands on good quality roses doesn’t take a huge amount of work.

Your best bet is your local nursery. They’ll often have a good range of quality roses at a reasonable price. If you’re just starting out growing roses, this is probably the best way to go.

If you’re slightly more experienced or are particular about the types of roses you grow, then you might want to consider looking at specialist rose growers. While the prices here may be more expensive than at a nursery, you’ll usually find much larger ranges of roses.

One great example in Australia is Treloar Roses. They’ve been around a while and have a great range of all sorts of roses.

Another option that might be for you if you’re more budget conscious is to check out your local hardware store, like Bunnings. This is where you’ll usually find the cheapest roses and while their range might not be equal to your local nursery or a specialist grower, they’ll probably do the trick for many beginner growers.

What to Look for When Buying

Before you rush off and buy enough roses to fill your garden with flowers, you should try and understand the various ways that roses are sold.

To actually understand why this matters, we need to learn a little more rose plant anatomy. The rose bush can be broken up into two main parts:

  • The top half that has thorns and gives us the flowers we’re after
  • The bottom half that works as the engine room of the plant, creating roots to provide the top half with the energy needed to grow flowers

In Winter, during the dormant period, roses are typically removed from the ground and excess soil is shaken off. These roses are called bare-root roses. While the plant is dormant, a rose plant has no need for soil as there’s no growth happening, so the plant doesn’t need any nutrients.

An added benefit for rose buyers is that these roses weigh very little, meaning that it’s cheaper to ship them than a rose grown in a pot.

Buying bare-root roses have the added benefit of being cheaper as well since the soil in pots also costs money. So if you’re on a budget or planning buy a large number of roses, buying bare-root often makes the most sense.

If you’re ordering from an online source then you’ll have to trust that the roses being sent are top quality. However, if you’re buying in person then you’ll have the chance to choose the best rose that you can see.

It’s for this reason that you’ll want to be able to tell a good specimen apart from a poor one.

Firstly, have a feel around the packaging and root system and make sure it’s not dried out. Dry roses aren’t healthy ones, so you’re better off finding ones that still have some moisture in them.

Second, try and find plants that have well-developed root systems. The roots should be strong and healthy; if you find roots that are dry, broken or soft, then avoid that plant.

The Best Roses for your Climate

Roses can be grown in plenty of climates, but there are a few requirements in order for roses to bloom successfully.

Roses don’t like the freezing cold, so you’ll need to ensure that you get some degree of warmth before selecting your roses. In some of the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere, such as Canada or the northern US, roses can be lost altogether because of cold weather.

Extreme heat isn’t desirable either, especially for flower production. So if you’re somewhere where there is a lot of heat, it’s best to place your roses somewhere that they’ll get some shade in the afternoon when the sun is at its hottest.

Here are some guides that provide examples of some of the better roses to grow in warm climates:

Roses that Thrive in Australia

Tropical Roses – Fact Sheets (ABC)

Roses that Grow Well in Hot, Humid Conditions

If you’re living in a colder climate, fear not, as there are plenty of good resources on choosing roses that will be suited to your climate. Here are some of our favourites:

Species Roses for Cold Climates – University of Vermont

Roses for Cold Climates

Cold Climate Rose Management – All About Roses

Matching Roses to Light Availability

Roses tend to love lots of light, that’s just how they’re built. So as a general rule you want to plant your roses where they get at least six hours of solid light per day.

But what if you really want to plant some roses somewhere where there’s only partial light? Is this possible?

Fortunately, it is.

Here are a couple of articles that go into the topic in some depth:

Some Roses Have it Made in the Sun – CS Monitor

Growing Roses in Partial Shade – American Rose Society

The Best Roses for Aesthetics

Of all the sections in this chapter, this is probably the hardest for us to help you with. After all, there’s no right answer when it comes to something as subjective as aesthetics.

So instead of just telling you what we think are the most beautiful roses, we’ve enlisted the help of a few other people to provide you with plenty of examples so you can decide for yourself:

Top 15 Most Beautiful Rose Flowers – Style Craze

Top 10 Most Beautiful Roses in the World – Earth N World

4606 Best Beautiful Roses – Pinterest

What is the Most Beautiful Rose? – Quora

The Most Fragrant Roses

Many people plant and grow roses for the fragrance. Just like Eros, it can be hard to resist smelling a rose when you come across one. Since there are more varieties of roses than you can poke your nose at, we thought it would be good to list out a few of the most fragrant roses if that’s what you’re after.

Your garden doesn’t need to be filled with fragrant roses. What many keen gardeners do is plant the majority of their roses for aesthetic reasons, then choose 1-2 intensely fragrant roses to add to the mix.

If that sounds like a good idea to you, then here are some good ideas to start with:

10 Intensely Fragrant Roses to Plant in your Garden – Mysterious World

The Most Fragrant Roses for your Garden – Better Homes & Gardens

Perfumed Roses – Garden Clinic

The Best Roses for Beginners

While roses tend to be quite easy to grow and easy to maintain, some are easier than others. If you’re a little anxious (or realistic!) about your gardening skills, or are just after something that requires little work, then you’ll want to focus on roses that are more suited to beginners.

What makes a rose best suited for beginners isn’t always straight forward; there are different opinions, so instead of just telling you a few of our favourites, we’ve gone and found you a few different opinions:

Choosing Low Maintenance Roses – Gardening Know How

The Easiest Roses you can Grow – Better Homes & Gardens

Getting the Colours Right

When you’re just starting out and your garden has a rose or two, where you plant them and the impact they have on the garden as a whole isn’t that important.

Once you begin to increase the number of roses in your garden you’ll want to start thinking about the garden as a whole. This requires a bit of planning to get just right.

Think about the colours you choose and how they will look amongst your other plants and even other features of your home.

Because selecting the right colours comes down to taste, there’s no one right way of doing things, but there are a couple of rules you can follow that will help make your garden stand out and be the type of garden you want it to be.

One way to do things is to use colours that blend together well. These are usually roses that are similar colours or shades of the same colour. These kinds of gardens tend to have a calming feel to them.

Another way is to go the complete opposite direction and have lots of contrasting colours. Instead of planting several shades of red, you could plant a white rose next to a red one.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, at the end of this guide we’ve provided you with links to some of the most famous rose gardens in the world. Do some further research on them and find sections of their gardens that would suit yours and then just create something similar.

Chapter 4: How to Master Growing Roses

At this point, you should be confident in not only understanding how roses work, but which roses are right for you and your garden.

Now it’s time to learn how to grow them so that you end up with the rose garden that you have been dreaming of.

Roses are hardy plants so this section shouldn’t be frightening; actually, you will probably find that growing roses successfully is a lot easier than you originally thought… as long as you get the basics right.

The Best Soil for Growing Roses

When looking to talk about growing any kind of plant, talking about the soil is always a good starting point.

After all, it’s the soil that the plant depends on for its nutrients. So if you get this wrong then everything that follows is hard to get right too.

Despite what some people think, roses are some of the least fussy plants when it comes to soil. The one thing that they can’t stand is dry or sandy soil. Roses require moisture at the roots, so having dry soil won’t help.

Treloar Roses have a great article on the best soil preparation for roses here:

Soil Preparation by Treloar Roses

How (and when) to Plant Roses

Planting your rose is pretty straightforward, but there are a couple of important facts that you need to take into consideration.

As well as planting the rose at the right time, you also need to make sure that the procedure used for planting is correct. This following video includes a good demonstration on how to do just that:

How to Plant a Rose Bush

How to Water Roses

It won’t come as a surprise to you that roses need to be watered from time to time. What might surprise you are the specifics; how often to water your roses, when to do it, how much water to use, what method of watering to use… and so on.

The answer, surprisingly, isn’t as simple as giving you a prescription to deal with the above questions.

Ultimately it comes down to making sure that your rose has the right amount of water at the right time and this can differ depending on a whole range of factors.

It will depend on the roses you have, your local climate, where the roses are planted, the type of soil in your garden, so in this section, we’ll try to provide some common sense rules to help make watering a cinch.

Here are some guidelines to help get you started…

Remember that your roses will need more watering when the weather is warmer compared to when it’s cool.

The more your soil drains, the more you’ll need to water your roses. Sandy soil and clay soil are very different in how they hold onto water.

Roses soak up water through their roots, so remember to water the soil, not the leaves. This has the added benefit of keeping your roses disease free since many diseases flourish in wet conditions.

It’s a lot easier to kill a rose through underwatering than overwatering, so if you’re unsure, then err on the side of more water. A rose bush will survive through a period of heavy rain, but if a drought goes on long enough then it will die.

The key to watering your roses correctly is to figure out a routine that keeps them alive and then sticking to it. Start out with your best guess and adjust the routine according to the plant health.

If you’re really keen, you can dig around a little bit and see for yourself how much moisture is left in the soil near the roots.

Getting Mulching Right for Roses

Done to keep ground cool and moist and to prevent weed growth. Covering is a loose, organic material that lets water through.

Mulching is mostly recommended in hot periods when your plants require more water. By mulching, you’ll manage to keep the ground cool and moist, which will make sure that your rose plants are happy plants.

Materials such as straw, sawdust, grass from your lawn mower are popular, but you can be pretty flexible about the material as long as the method is correct.

One mistake new gardeners make is spreading the mulch out too thin. Since the purpose of mulch is to cool the ground and retain water, the mulch needs to be put on thick. When you’re starting out, try adding about 15cm of mulch to your rose plants and see how that goes.

How to use Fertiliser with Roses

If you want to make sure that your roses bloom continually throughout the season and that they bloom as well as physically possible, then you’ll need to learn some basics about fertiliser.

In order for a plant to bloom, it requires nutrients. It usually absorbs these from the ground, which is fine in terms of survival, but in order to bloom often the plant needs extra nutrients, which is where fertiliser comes in.

If you’re short on time and not really interested in maximising the potential of your roses, you can probably find a good solution by going to your local nursery and picking up some basic fertiliser.

However, if you’re a little more hardcore, then you’ll want to learn a few more things in order to optimise the performance of your roses.

Dummies have created a useful guide to help you understand how to better fertilise your roses:

How to Fertilize your Roses – Dummies

How to Prune & Deadhead your Roses

If you want to ensure that your roses bloom at their best and grow as well as can be expected, then you’ll need to perform some basic pruning from time to time.

This is the process of removing unwanted shoots, buds or flowers to make the plant more productive.

Some novice growers worry about the process of pruning; that they’ll be a little too enthusiastic and end up destroying the plant. While this is possible, with a little knowledge, pruning is very simple and you’re unlikely to do any lasting damage.

There are lots of reasons why pruning is important. By removing the dead wood of the plant, you help maintain the health of the plant.

By removing all of the “suckers” that grow out of a plant’s root system, you ensure that more nutrients end up in the part of the plant that you want.

By removing certain shoots, you prevent overcrowding of the plant, which means that not only will the remaining ones be best positioned for flower display, but the plant will be stronger since you typically remove some of the weaker shoots.

When done right, you’ll also end up with bigger and better flowers since you’re increasing the efficiency of the process that makes flowers on the plant.

So there’s no reason to fear pruning but plenty of reasons to make sure it’s part of your regular gardening process.

Before you start, you’ll need to get your hands (literally) on some basic tools.

First up, because roses are covered in thorns, you’ll want to make sure you are using gloves. They should allow you to use other tools while you’re wearing them, so they need to be tough but not so tough that you can’t safely use anything else.

Second, you need to get yourself a decent set of secateurs. When it comes to buying one of these, it’s best to not be too cheap. Low-quality tools can end up bruising the cane of the plant, which is counterproductive to what you’re aiming to do.

If you’re going to be growing lots of roses over a decent period of time, it’s well worth your money to spend a little extra to get secateurs that cut cleanly through the cane every time. You’ll find that they stay sharper for longer too.

Here’s an example of bypass blade secateurs

When it comes to secateurs, there are two main types; anvil and bypass blades.

With bypass blades, the blades pass by each other (as the name suggests). This makes them best for cutting, but the downside is that if the force required to make the cut becomes too high, then the blades will separate.

With anvil secateurs, a single blade slices onto a single anvil. This makes the cuts less sharp and can bruise canes, but the blades will not separate.

For roses, bypass secateurs are the best choice as you’ll rarely encounter canes thick enough to trouble your secateurs, but bruising the canes is something you’ll want to avoid. If you do encounter thick canes, you can always use a different tool to help you.

Once you’ve got your tools then you’re ready to start.

Some people worry a lot about when to prune, afraid they’ll make a fatal mistake. But if you remember the reasons why we prune, the timing becomes a lot simpler.

Since we’re essentially doing this to help the plant grow and bloom, you’ll want to do this before the growth starts.

Here’s a quick video from Bunnings that shows you how to do this:

How to Prune Your Roses

Most of the pruning that you’ll do will be done before the plant begins its next growth phase. However, you’ll also need to do some pruning while the roses are in full bloom. This is known as deadheading; which means to remove dead flowers from the plant so that the plant can focus its energy on producing more flowers.

Caring for Roses Year Round

Roses are pretty hardy and don’t require as much maintenance as some other types of plants, but there are some tasks you’ll need to perform throughout the year and things to watch out for in certain seasons.

Fortunately, the Rose Society of NSW has put together a great guide for Australians on what to do in each month of the year:

Rose Care Calendar by the Rose Society of NSW

How to Grow Roses in Pots

While most people think of roses as plants to be grown in the garden, they’re also fine plants to grow in pots.

Terracotta pots are a popular choice for growing roses

As well as growing well in pots, growing roses in pots also add some flexibility to your garden. You can bring them out when they’re flowering and hide them away when they’re dormant.

The downside is that it does require a little more care.

The first thing to consider is the size of your rose. Just about all types of roses will grow in pots, but larger roses will require very large pots in order to be stable and at that point, you really don’t have a pot, but a permanent fixture in your garden… which defeats the purpose of having potted roses in the first place.

This is why smaller roses tend to work best for growing in pots.

Once you’ve decided to grow a rose in a pot, your first step is to find a pot that you like. There are no rules here except to pick something that suits you and your garden. Whether you choose a rusty old bucket or an ancient Chinese pot, that’s completely up to you.

Some of the more common examples of pots include:

  • Clay Pots
  • Plastic Pots
  • Wooden Pots
  • Hanging Baskets

Another difference between potted roses and planting them in your garden is the type of soil you use. When you plant in your garden you’re generally stuck using whatever soil is there. But when you’re using a pot, we tend to use potting mix, which generally performs better than regular soil.

You can get a bit pedantic about creating the ultimate potting mix for your roses, but really as long as they provide the plant with nutrients and drain well then you’re fine to go with whatever you can pick up from your local Bunnings.

Here’s a quick video that demonstrates a few things:

How to Grow Roses in Containers

How to Grow Roses from Seeds

If you’re the type of person who likes to bake their own bread, then you might be the type of person who wants to grow their roses from scratch.

Just like baking your own bread versus buying it from the shops, growing roses from seeds might take a little longer but it’s not that tricky.

Here’s a video tutorial from Mr Chip Gardener that explains the process in some detail:

Growing Roses from Seeds

How to Grow Roses from Cuttings

Another way to create more roses is to use cuttings. While most of the other topics in this guide have been pretty straightforward, when using cuttings to grow roses, there are a few places where you can go wrong, so here’s a tutorial that demonstrates exactly how to do it:

Grow Roses from Cuttings

Prevent & Treat Rose Pests & Diseases

Roses are prone to several different pests and diseases. After putting in all your hard work, it’s a real shame to see your roses infected with something nasty, so it’s better that you first figure out how to prevent pests and diseases from ever taking hold.

But no one is perfect and sooner or later you’re going to find your roses infected, so once that happens it’s also important that you’re able to identify the problem and solve it for good.

Chemical pesticides work well and we’ll be recommending them at the end of this section, but if you’re a more natural person and would prefer to solve your pest problems the natural way, then Flowers Across Melbourne has a great guide on using flowers instead of pesticides.

In order to prevent pests and diseases from ever taking hold, the best thing you can do is to ensure that your roses and strong and healthy. Just like a healthy person is able to fight off diseases, so can a rose bush.

Next, ensure the environment is just right. With good air circulation, lighting, sanitary growing conditions and adequate drainage, you further decrease the likelihood of a disease taking hold.

Once you’ve done all you can, you need to learn the signs of the major pests and diseases, so you can spot them if they do take hold, then learn how to get rid of them.

Roses and Aphids

Ants doing battle with aphids

Aphids are little insects that feed on buds, shoots and leaves. You can find them on your roses at any time throughout the year, but you’re most likely to find them in late Spring or early in the Summer.

If they’re given free rein over your plants, they can weaken it by essentially stealing some of its energy, which results in poorer quality flowers.

You can get rid of aphids by using a pest oil such as this one from Yates. They work by smothering the insect and suffocating it to death. It sounds gnarly but is very effective.

Roses and Thrips

You don’t want to see these guys on your roses

Thrips are another type of insect to watch out for. They can be pretty nasty so you’ll want to learn how to spot them and then get rid of them if they make an appearance.

There are a couple of different species of thrips, with some feeding on the flowers of roses, while another punches holes in the petals of your flowers. When your roses have thrips, you’ll find that the flowers develop numerous light spots that later darken.

The solution is the same as with aphids; pest oil.

Other Insects to be Aware of

The scale insect is another one that you’ll want to watch out for. You’ll know you have a scale problem with you begin to notice the formation of reddish/brown gunk on the lower parts of your stems.

Because scale insects are coated in a waxy substance, using pest oil to smother them isn’t as effective. Pest oil will help with scale insects that have not developed, but once they are fully grown, you’ll have to take a different approach.

What most rose growers find effective is to take a cotton bud soaked in alcohol to remove the bugs manually. Because they’re slightly larger than the other pests we have looked at so far, this method works well, although it is laborious.

Mealybugs appear on flowers and buds because they like to feed on the sap inside. This prevents the flowers from opening and so you’ll definitely want to get rid of mealy bugs if you want your flowers to bloom at their full potential.

Pest oil can work against these guys, although they are thought to be tougher to get rid of completely.

If you’d like to read more about how to get rid of aphids, mealybugs and scales, the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has some good information here:

Aphids, Mealybugs and Scales

Protecting your Roses from Black Spot

Black spot is a disease that is the most common to roses all around the world and can be quite harmful if not treated.

You’ll spot it by finding black spots on the upper side of your rose foliage, followed by a reduction in the size and number of flowers.

To treat it, the first thing you should do is make sure that there’s sufficient air circulation throughout your plant. Doing some pruning can help here if things are too dense. If you find leaves that are infected, snip them off and get rid of them.

In addition, there are several sprays available at your local garden centre that can help with the control of black spot as well.

Protecting your Roses from Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is another common rose disease around the world. When your roses are infected with this, you’ll typically see white powdery patches on the buds and flowers.

On the leaves, you’ll find raised blister-like areas, which later become coated with the powdery fungus.

Powdery mildew can cause all sorts of problems such as leaves dropping off, flowers failing to bloom and even growth of the plant can be halted.

To treat this you can start by pruning off the parts that have been infected. Once you’ve done this, you can apply a fungicidal spray to keep the rest of the plant in check.

Protecting your Roses from Rose Mosaic

Rose Mosaic, unlike the others we’ve discussed in this section, is neither a pest nor a fungus; it’s actually a virus. This particular type of virus creates what look like mosaic patterns and can cause health problems for the plant.

Virus stricken plants can’t be cured and instead need to be destroyed, so care must be taken when propagating new roses that the original stock is safe and free from any disease.

Chapter 5: 11 Famous Rose Gardens

By now should know how to grow some roses better than just about everyone. Now the education phase of this guide is over, you could probably do with some inspiration.

So why not look at some of the best examples of rose gardens in the world?

Queen Mary’s Rose Garden, UK

Website link

Elizabeth Park Rose Garden, USA

Website link

Rosedal De Palermo, Argentina

Website link

Sakura Rose Garden, Japan

Website link

Roseto Municipale, Italy

Website link

Princess Grace Rose Garden, Monaco

Website link

San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, USA

Website link

Berkeley Rose Garden, USA

Website link

Butchart Garden Rose Arbor, Canada

Website link

Werribee Park Rose Garden, Australia

Website link

Europa Rosarium, Germany

Website link

Chapter 6: Frequently Asked Questions

This guide should have answered most of your questions, but if there are still a few unanswered questions floating around your head, hopefully, they’ll be answered below.

If you’re still in need of some help, let us know your question in the comments section at the end of the guide and we’ll add an answer as soon as possible.

Q: Which roses mean sorry?

A: If you’ve messed up and want to apologise to a friend, then a yellow rose is most appropriate.

Q: Which roses are the most fragrant?

A: There are lots of fragrant roses in existence, with the most well known of them being Mister Lincoln. They’re also beautiful and hardy, making them one of the more popular roses in the modern world.

Q: Which roses have thorns?

A: Most roses have thorns. Roses that don’t have thorns are the exception, although there are some varieties that have so few thorns they’re known as “nearly thornless”.

Q: Which roses mean death?

A: While lilies are usually the flower of choice for funerals and dark crimson roses are used to represent grief, it’s the black roses that mean death.

Q: Which roses bloom all summer?

A: Lots of modern roses like hybrid teas and floribundas bloom all summer. This is something that was gained from the hybridisation of the European roses with the roses from China.

Q: Which roses are edible?

A: Most roses that are not treated with pesticides are safe to eat, but there are some parts that are tastier than others. The petals and buds are used in several cuisines to make things such as rose hip jam and rose water.

Q: Which roses mean friendship?

A: Yellow roses are typically used to signify friendship.

Q: Will roses grow in the shade?

A: Roses require several hours of sunlight a day in order to stay healthy, but there are some breeds of roses called “shade-resistant” roses that can grow in the shade.

Q: Will roses grow in sandy soil?

A: Roses prefer to grow in moist environments, so they prefer soil that can hold water well. If you’re forced to grow roses in sandy soil, you’ll probably need to water more frequently than you otherwise would.

Q: Will roses grow in pots?

A: Roses will grow in pots. There are a few pointers that you need to know such as choosing the right type of rose, so if you’re interested in growing roses in pots, check out the section on it in chapter 4.

Q: Will roses harm cats?

A: Roses are not toxic to cats. Unlike lilies, roses won’t poison your cats. That said, roses are covered in thorns, so playing with rose bushes can harm cats.

Q: Will roses grow in chalky soil?

A: Roses do not like to grow in chalky soil since those soils tend to stay quite dry. However, there are hardy breeds of rose that will grow in poor, chalky soil, although you will likely need to water more often than if you were to grow your roses in ideal soil.

Q: Will roses die in cold weather?

A: Yes, every rose has a point at which it will die due to the cold. This does vary somewhat from rose to rose, with some being hardier than others. Before growing a rose in your garden, look up what climate zone you live in and make sure the rose you grow will be fine.

Q: Will roses root in water?

A: You can grow rose cuttings in water. It can take a few weeks but it can be done.

Q: Can roses be blue?

A: Roses can be made blue by dyeing or painting them, but true blue roses don’t exist in nature because roses lack the gene for blue pigmentation.

Q: Can roses be green?

A: All roses have sepals, which are the green outer layer of the flower that serves to protect the softer inner petals. There are some roses, such as Rosa chinensis viridiflora, that only has sepals, so it appears to be green.

Q: Can roses be poisonous?

A: No, there are no known types of roses that are poisonous to humans, cats or dogs.

Q: Why roses don’t open?

A: If you’re worried about flowers that are still on the plant, then the first thing you should do is check for pests and diseases since these are often the main cause of rose flowers not opening. If you’re worried that your cut roses aren’t opening, make sure that the stems are cut at 45 degrees so that water isn’t blocked or try to remove any extra leaves or foliage so that all the energy can be put into opening the flower.

Q: Are roses weeds?

A: Well, it depends on how you see them. A weed is simply a plant that is growing where it isn’t wanted. While most people grow roses deliberately, they can be considered weeds if they’re growing where you don’t want them. Although many people would consider having random roses growing in their garden a good thing!


Well, that’s all we have on growing roses that will make your neighbours envious.

You’ve learned a little about the history of roses and how our modern varieties came to be, as well as what sorts of roses exist in the world (and which ones are right for you and your garden) and you’ve been shown how to grow them from start to finish.

It’s our goal to make this guide grow and evolve over time, so if you’ve got any questions you want to be answered, or if you’re a seasoned rosarian with some suggestions, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

And if you’ve used the guide to help grow some roses, we’d love to see the end result!

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