How to look after roses – with tips from a National Trust gardening expert

In the first of our new National Trust gardening tips series, we heed the advice of garden researcher Rebecca Bevan on that most classic of flowers, the rose.

It's probably not escaped your attention that we are now entering rose season, with ramblers and shrub roses leading the way.

Even if you don't have many in your own garden, roses are incredibly generous. So if you don’t have one in your own garden, you can usually enjoy the sight and scent of one spilling out of a neighbours’ garden or even growing in a hedgerow.

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That makes it a perfect time to ask National Trustgarden researcher Rebecca Bevan for her tips on caring for roses over the summer.

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(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

'Much of the work which goes into keeping roses healthy should have been done by now,' says Rebecca. 'That would include pruning to stop them getting congested. Also, mulching to feed the soil, trap in moisture and bury fungal spores.'

However there are still some jobs to be done. Here are Rebecca's essential summer care tips.

HOW TO DEADHEAD ROSES

'While traditional rambling roses tend to flower once, in great profusion, modern, repeat-flowering roses begin more slowly, but send up new blooms throughout the summer,' says Rebecca.

'Deadheading repeat-flowering roses such as climbers and hybrid tea roses to encourage more blooms.'

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(Image credit: National Trust Images Arnhel de Serra)

'Use scissors or secateurs to snip off the spent flowers, cutting back to just above a leaf, from where the new flower shoot will form.

'Stop deadheading in late summer to let a few hips form for the birds,' she adds.

HOW TO CARE FOR POTTED ROSES

'Water roses in pots and feed them with a liquid feed every few weeks. Patio roses such as ‘Queen Mother’ are the best for growing in containers.'

'They need to be planted in a pot that is at least 40cm deep. Make sure you use a soil-based compost which holds water and nutrients.'

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HOW DO YOU GET RID OF APHIDS ON ROSES?

'Watch out for pests such as aphids and sawfly larvae,' advises Rebecca. 'Most roses can accommodate a few aphids, which provide a food source for other insects and small birds. But if an infestation is affecting the health of your rose, you can try squashing them by hand or using an organic insecticide.'

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(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

'There are no products for treating the caterpillar-like larvae of sawfly and roses will soon recover when they mature and leave the plant.'

HOW DO YOU TREAT BLACK SPOT ON ROSES?

'Sadly, fungal diseases like mildew and blackspotare very common. They're usually worst when roses are stressed by drought, poor soil or overcrowding.'

'If your rose has a small amount of mildew or blackspot, you can pick off the affected leaves to try to slow the spread.'

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(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

'Watering and liquid feeding it – and even spraying the foliage with a foliar feed, rose tonic or plant invigorator – may also help boost its health.'

'If the plant is badly affected, you may wish to try a fungicide. Look for products that don’t also contain an insecticide, which can harm pollinating insects.'

'Routinely using a combined insecticide and fungicide is not good for the environment,' Rebecca warns.

WHEN IS IT BEST TO PLANT ROSES FOR NEXT SEASON?

'June through to August is a good time to make a note of which roses you like best and want to introduce into your garden, says Rebecca.

'Try to hold off buying and planting them until the autumn or winter when you can order them bareroot.'

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(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

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'If you want a rose to cover a garden fence, stick to small climbers such as golden yellow ‘Teasing Georgia’ and pink ‘Blush Noisette’. Or you can simply fan out the branches of a shrub rose so it is flat against the fence.'

READ MORE

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Learn more about looking after roses from the latest National Trust Book, Roses & Rose Gardens, £14.99, by Claire Masset.

We'll be reaching out to the National Trust and their expert gardeners every month for more advice. In July, we'll be learning more about how to care for lavender.