Garden Arch News & Advice ... since 2010

Caring for Roses

Caring for Roses

As we have mentioned previously here at English Garden Arches, there is nothing finer than a garden arch wrapped in colourful, regal roses.

But roses do need looking after so this article will focus on some of the most important aspects of rose maintenance.


In snowy weather, the stems of shrub roses tend to spread outwards, creating a hollow centre in the bush. Tie the branches together firmly with string or raffia around the middle of the shrub to give the bush extra support.

Frost Protection

In autumn, when you have finished pruning, spread a thick layer of compost around the base of each plant. Pile up the earth around the base to a height of about 30cm (12 inches). Remember to remove it at the start of the fine weather in spring - around April or May.

Rose Treatments

If you have to treat your roses with a spray solution, it is best to do so when the weather is calm and not rainy or windy. This ensures that the treatment is applied exactly where required and are not blown onto nearby plants or washed away into the soil. Apply during the early morning or evening, out of the heat of the sun.

The Right Time to Water

In the summer, water your roses early in the morning and never in the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. Don't water in the evening of a very hot day as this will promote diseases such as powdery mildew, which occurs when roses are grown in soil that is too dry, and black spot which develops in hot, wet atmospheres.

Apply water around the base of the plant. Avoid using a fine spray, as roses weighed down with water will not last long. Overwet leaves may also burn in the sun from the magnifying effect of the droplets. Water the soil thoroughly before spreading liquid manure around the base of the plants, or do this after it has rained.

Combating Rose Sickness

If a rose dies unexpectedly, pull it up with its rootball and remove the soil where it was planted to a depth of about 50cm. Replace with fresh compost before planting a new rose into the hole. Ideally, leave the site clear for at least three years before replanting with roses. Whenever you transplant a rose, remove the old soil from around the roots and use fresh compost in the new planting hole.

Treat your roses to a tonic of sulphur, a powder contained in most rose feeds. It helps to unlock inaccessible nutrients in the soil, gives your roses a boost and helps to combat black spot and powdery mildew. Roses grown in more industrialised areas tend to be free of black spot.

Aphid Decoys

Plant nasturtiums around a rose bed. They will attract colonies of aphids to their stems and leaves rather than your roses, which can be cut off and destroyed. The nasturtium plants quickly recover, and your roses will be untouched.

Holes in Rosebuds

This is a sign that small caterpillars are living in your rose and that the flowers may soon be entirely eaten away. There are two natural solutions: simply remove all the affected buds, or plant shrubs and flowers that attract birds alongside your rose bushes. The birds will eat the caterpillars and keep them off your roses.

Unhealthy Foilage

Chlorosis, the rapid yellowing of foliage, is usually caused by a shortage of iron, which can mean that your soil is too alkaline. Without touching the roots, dig a trench all the way around the rose at a distance of about 40cm from the base, and fill with ericaceous compost. Feed annually with this compost and plenty of organic matter.