Everything’s Rosy in Winter


Because roses are traditionally grown in the ground and dug out during their dormant period, winter’s the season when rose plants are widely available. They’re commonly found on sale with their roots protected by moisture-holding material and wrapped in a plastic outer sleeve. The bare, thorn-studded stems that protrude from the bag don’t look very promising but, within a few months, these stems will be bursting with new growth and, eventually, beautiful flowers. Bare-rooted roses can also be bought and sent through the mail, although the most popular varieties are often sold out before winter arrives.

Choosing which rose to grow can be difficult but there are many varieties today that don’t just give you lovely blooms, they support good causes. Some suggestions are ‘Hayley Westenra’ or ‘Ali Mau’ that raise funds for Unicef (Hayley and Ali are Unicef ambassadors), ‘Loving Care’ that supports the South Canterbury Hospice and ‘Scent to Remember’ that, in a similar way, supports Waipuna Hospice.

Some roses – such as ‘City of Hastings’, ‘Hikurangi’ and ‘Parnell Heritage’ – are named for particular locations. Debate rages as to whether increased sales in the area thus honoured outweigh the limitations to the name’s appeal in other parts of the country. Maybe safer to choose the ever popular ‘Aotaeroa’, bred here in New Zealand by Sam McGredy, who has given us so many wonderful roses.

There are lots of roses with names that make them memorable gifts. ‘Everlasting Love’ (pictured) was NZ Rose of the Year in 2001. ‘The Wedding Rose’, ‘Fond Memories’ and ‘Loving Memory’ could all solve present problems. And one wonders how many ‘Golden Jubilee’ rose have been given as golden anniversary gifts without anyone realising that it was first named for the 50th celebration of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Planting roses

When your new rose arrives it’s best to try to plant it as soon as possible. Of course, if it’s in a pot you can put it aside for a few months while you prepare the planting bed. Sometimes this is preferable as, if it’s a newly potted, bare-rooted rose, this will give time for the roots to re-grow. If the new rose is in a plastic bag you can keep it in a cool spot for a couple of weeks but, if you have to wait for any length of time, plant the rose temporarily into a garden bed. This is called ‘heeling in’. Before planting or heeling in discard any packaging and soak the root system in a bucket of water for a few hours.

Choose a wind-protected spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day. It should be well away from competing roots and not in an area where roses have grown in recent years. Dig the soil to about 30cm deep and add some old organic matter and a couple of handfuls of Dynamic Lifter pellets. Dynamic Lifter is ideal because it will encourage new root growth without burning. Mix this in thoroughly before creating a planting hole with a small mound in the base.

Spread the roots over the mound and fill around them with soil. Water deeply and keep well watered over the coming weeks. Have a Yates Rose Gun or a bottle of Super Shield ready to control spring pests and diseases. Feed once new growth appears in spring with Dynamic Lifter Flower Food.


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