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Winter is rose time. This seems an odd concept, with most roses being bare of both leaves and flowers throughout the cool months. But it’s an apt term because much of the seasonal rose activity, especially pruning and planting, takes place in winter.
The reason winter’s the star season in the rose calendar is because roses are deciduous. This means that their roots and tops become dormant in winter and, while they’re in this state, they can be cut back, lifted and transplanted with little risk.
Most roses are produced in the ground. The vigorous rootstock is grown first and eventually the desirable – and desired – rose is budded (a form of grafting) onto the top. The strong roots ensure the rose plant develops more quickly and has much more vigour.
When the rose is at a saleable size, it’s taken out of the ground in its dormant period and moved with no soil at all around its roots. Hence it’s a lot easier and cheaper to transport than if it were in a pot. These days, rose roots mostly come packed into moisture-holding material and then into plastic. The result is a bunch of thorny stems that don’t look very attractive, but will usually produce blooms in their first year.
When you’re buying packaged roses, look for plump, un-shrivelled stems that are a healthy colour. Don’t worry too much if the rose has only one single stem. Good roots are far more important than a many-branched top.
Ideally you should have your rose bed ready well before purchasing the rose. Choose an area that hasn’t grown roses before. A sunny position is vital, and good soil drainage is a must (roses won’t grow in a bog). Mix some gypsum into clay soil to help improve aeration around the roots.
Dig the soil to a depth of 20-25cm, adding in some compost or well-aged manure. Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food can be incorporated into the planting soil.
The day before planting, water well to moisten the soil, then allow to drain. Next day, unwrap the rose, remove the packaging material and sit the roots in a bucket of diluted Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic. This hydrates the roots and cleans off any unwanted soil or packaging.
While the rose is soaking, dig the planting hole and create a small mound in the base. Take the rose out of the bucket and spread the roots over the mound. Fill in the soil, ensuring that the bud union bump is above ground level.
Water well to eliminate air pockets. When the rose begins to shoot in spring, feed regularly with Yates Thrive Rose & Flower Granular Plant Food and spray sap-sucking insects with Yates Rose Gun Spray Ready to Use.