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The Basics of Growing Roses


Aside from times of extreme weather, roses can be planted at any time during the year. The extreme weather conditions that we advise against planting in are when the ground is frozen, water-logged or during a drought. Often people ask, ‘when is the best time to plant’, but as long as you avoid the conditions mentioned, there really is no one best time to plant.


Roses are extremely versatile and hardy plants that can be planted in a variety of positions and locations in the garden. When selecting a planting location, we recommend you consider the following points to ensure the rose thrives:

1. Ensure plenty of sunlight

Roses thrive on direct sunlight. For best results, a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight is recommended.

However, even when planted against a north wall (meaning no direct sunlight) roses can still perform well. To see a list of roses suitable for shaded areas click here.

In Mediterranean climates and hot locations, we advise to plant roses in partial shade, where they will benefit from cool shade at the hottest time of the day (first half of the day) and thus avoid scorching and other damage caused by prolonged direct sun.

2. Avoid intense competition from other plants

The closer you plant your rose to other plants, the more competition there is for moisture and sunlight.

For best results, plant your rose 1m away from other plants and 60cm from other roses.

Avoid planting a rose under an overhanging tree branch.

3. Avoid very exposed, windy sites

Strong winds can cause the base of the rose to loosen in the soil. This will result in your rose rocking in the wind which will lead to it growing at an angle, which in extreme cases will kill it.

To prevent this, ensure you follow our planting instructions.

If you find this problem with a rose you already have, make sure you firm the soil around it. In some cases a stake may be necessary.


For advice on planting choose from the links below:

How to plant a bare root shrub rose

How to plant a bare root climbing rose

How to plant a potted rose


Watering is arguably the most important aspect of growing any plant. The right amount of watering will promote a healthy shrub that will flower over a long period.

How much water?

As a guide, we recommend watering the following amount per rose each time you water:

Shrub roses – 5 litres

Climbing roses – 10 litres

Rambling roses – 10 litres

Standard roses – 10 litres

Roses in pots – 5 litres

When to water?

The need for watering varies greatly throughout the year and is directly related to the amount of rain that has fallen and will depend on the region where you live.

We suggest the following:

October – February

Ensure that the soil is never allowed to dry out completely, especially in Mediterranean climates for example.

March – May

Watch out for particularly prolonged dry spells of two weeks or more, particularly if the weather is warm.

Newly planted roses – water every two or three days.

Established roses – water once a week.

June – September

Established roses – water once a week. As your rose starts blooming, take note if your flowers are wilting. This will happen in extreme heat but is a reliable sign that your roses need more water.

Newly planted roses – water every other day.

What you need

The best way to water is with a watering can, so that you can see how much water you are using. If you have a lot of roses, then a hose with a rose attachment is more practical.

How to water

It is best to water as close to base of the rose as you can. If the water is starting to flow away from the base, stop for a moment to allow the water to soak in, then continue.

Don’t water over the flowers or foliage. Watering foliage can encourage disease problems, particularly if it remains on the leaves overnight.

We recommend a softer spray rather than a fierce deluge from a jet spray or pressure hose. If using a hose, try to get a fitting that has a rose setting. If you haven’t got a special fitting, make sure the pressure is not too high on your hose.

Roses or situations that require extra attention:

Newly planted roses.

Climbing Roses planted against walls due to the dry nature of the soil in that location.

Roses planted in sandy soil and chalky soil

Roses planted in a pot or container.


All roses appreciate being fed, particularly our repeat-flowering English Roses. If you wish to get the most out of your roses we always recommend feeding.

When to feed

For the best results, we recommend two annual feeds:

Late-March/April at the beginning of the growing season.

Late July after the first bloom cycle has finished, promoting stronger repeat flowering.

In hot and Mediterranean climates, the first feed should be given in late February when the roses start shooting. The second feed should be in May, after the first flush of blooms. It is also often necessary to feed your roses a third time around mid-august.

What you need

For the best results, we recommend using our own specially formulated David Austin Rose Food

How to feed

Simply sprinkle Rose Food around the base of each rose (see packaging for full instructions).


For advice on pruning choose from the links below:

How to prune a shrub rose

How to prune a climbing rose


We recommend mulching as it helps to retain moisture and to suppress weeds.

When to mulch

You can do this at any time of year. For the best results, mulch in early spring from March onwards.

What you need

For best the results, we recommend small bark chippings.

How to mulch

Firstly, remove all of the weeds in your rose border. Secondly, apply about an inch (3cm) thick layer of bark around the base of the rose and any bare soil next to your rose. The more you apply the better the moisture retention and weed suppressant.

If you are mulching when the soil is dry, water well either before or after mulching.


Spraying roses to control pests

Greenfly (aphids) and caterpillars are the most common pests.

When to Spray

When you see them.

What you need

Please ask an advisor at your garden centre for the best product available for your needs. 

How to spray to control Pests

Greenfly and caterpillars can be removed by hand in the earliest stages.

If spraying, see packaging for instructions.

Spraying roses to control disease

The main fungal challenges for roses are rust, black spot and powdery mildew. David Austin English Roses as a group are relatively resistant to disease. However, in some situations they too may require spraying.

When to spray

We recommend you spray at the first sign of disease. It is best to act quickly to prevent disease spreading.

What you need

Please ask an advisor at your garden centre for the best product available in your country. 

How to spray

See packaging for instructions.


Why Dead Head

There are two good reasons to dead head:

To encourage repeat-flowering – this stops your rose producing seeds in the hips, which are formed after flowering, so that it has more energy for repeat-flowering.

Shaping – it is an opportunity to shape your shrub.

When to dead head

This should be done as soon after each flowering as possible up to late September. After September it is unlikely that you will get much more growth or flowering*, as your plant will be getting ready for winter.

How to Dead Head

Each flowering stem can be cut back as far as three sets of leaves. The amount you cut back controls, to some extent, the shape and size of your plant.

If you are unsure, cut back to the point where the flowers stop being produced on the stem.