General Planting & Care Advice for English Roses

Position and Planting Distances:

-Choose a site with at least 4 hours of sun each day.

-Avoid sites where roots will be in competion with the roots of other plants, especially trees and hedges.

-Plant in groups of 3 or more of one variety where possible to give the effect of one dense shrub which makes a statement in the border.

-When planting in clusters, leave 18"/50cm between each rose, and allow 3ft/1m between plants of neighbouring varieties.

Planting Your Rose:

-Plant with the base of the stems about 2"/5cm below ground level.

-Potted roses should be soaked for 30 minutes or so just prior to planting.

-Water generously until the plant is well established.

-Use Mycorrhizal Fungi (RootGrow) to help create better root systems.


-Feed newly planted and established roses twice a year - at the begining of the growing season (mid-March to April) and again in mid-summer after the first flush of flowers.

Winter Pruning:

-Don't be afraid of pruning - roses are robust and will flower again. You will do no permanent damage.

-January and February is the best time to prune.

-Remove very weak, old, woody, dead and diseased stems.

-Cut back by 1/3rd to 2/3rds.

-Concentrate on the overall shape and try to create a rounded shrub.

Planting in containers

Choosing a Container:

-Recommended capacity is a minimum of 25 litres to promote good root development and avoid drying out.

-In larger containers you can plant more than one rose to create a greater impact.

-Stand the pot on feet and ensure good drainage in the bottom of the pot.

Watering and Feeding:

-Use a long life fertilizer, such as osmocote.

-Use a high quality compost: John Innes is good as it contains soil or clay particals which helps the compost hold water and helps with re-wetting.

-Don't let the pot dry out. Dry peat is waterproof. Once it has dried out completely and shrunk away from the side of the pot, if you try to water the water will just run out. If you reach that point, stand the pot in a tray of water so it soaks upwards.

-To tell if a pot needs watering the best way is to lift the pot and feel the weight. You will come to know the weight and be able to tell when its wet and when it needs water.


-If planting before the rose has flowered, pinch out the first flowers to encourage new growth and to create a bushier plant to fill the pot.

-If the plant has already flowered, dead-head the flowering stems hard, by about half their length, again to help the plant bush out.

-Always remove finished flowers and, once the whole truss has flowered out, cut the flowering stem back by half.

-Winter pruning - prune as you would a rose in the ground. Concentrate on the overall shape and try to create a rounded shrub.

Growing English Climbers and Ramblers:

Spiral trained climbers and ramblers for pillars and pergolas:

-Get the stems as horizontal as possible, by making the spirals as compact as you can. Working with soft, new growth makes this easier. Rambling varieties lend themselves best to this method.

-With climbing varieties that have less supple growth, these can be trained straight upwards for good coverage of the support, or fan trained (see below).

-Cut out any old wood, and keep forward arching stems pruned harder for low flowers and coverage at the base.

-Prune side shoots to three buds.

Espalier or fan-trained climbers for walls and fences:

-Plant a foot (30cm) away from the wall (too close and the ground will be drier).

-Use wires or trellis as support and get stems as horizontal as possible. This is best done when the growth is still soft, and can be adjusted every few days.

-This encourages flowering at each joint, and encourages the plant to produce more basal shoots which you will nedd to create a 'layered' effect.

-For any stems that arch forward, away from the wall or support, prune them as you would  a shrub to keep them shorter and more compact. This gives a full effect at the base of the plant and flowers low down.

-On trained stems, prune the side shoots to three buds.

-The same effect can be achived witha fanned climber, but as the stems will be more upright than horizontal, there may be fewer blooms along the long stems and more towards the top of the plant.

English Climbers for arches and arbours:

-In the UK, most of our climbing varieties grow to a maximum height of 8-10ft (1.8-2m), so bear this in mind when planning which arch to use, or which variety to choose.

-With arches you first need to grow the canes upwards rather than horizontally to get coverage of the structure.

-Once you have the height, you can train new stems round the structure, similar to spiral traing, to encourage more flowers.

-As for other climbers, prune forward arching growth harder for better coverage at the base and flowers low down.