Roses have a reputation for being temperamental and difficult to care for. However, not all roses are created equal. Shrub roses are some of the easiest to grow and have the same beautiful attributes as classic roses—but without all the fuss.
Shrub roses come in a wide array of colors, from snowy white to deep purple. Though the flowers aren’t as showy as more traditional hybrid teas, shrub roses require far less maintenance and are more resilient. Newer cultivars have been bred for exceptional disease resistance, hardiness, and a greater number of blooms.
When to plant:
Plant during milder months of spring or fall to avoid heat or cold stress.
Where to plant:
Choose a sunny the lightly shaded site with fertile, well-draining soil that stays evenly moist.
How to plant:
Loosen the soil in the planting area 1-1/2 to 2 feet wide and deep. Work a generous amount of compost or cow manure into the soil.
Dig a hole big enough to accommodate the root ball. Mix in a handful of bone meal to support root development.
Place the plant in the hole and spread the roots out. The top of the root ball should be level with the surrounding soil surface.
Fill in the hole, tamp down the soil to remove air pockets, and water well.
Note: If you live in a cold region and the plant is grafted, bury the graft a couple of inches below the soil to protect it from winter freeze.
Place plants 2 to 5 feet apart depending on the variety, and allow for adequate air circulation to help prevent moisture-borne diseases.
For bare-root plants:
Soak roots in water for at least an hour to hydrate before planting.
Planting in containers:
Choose a pot at least 15 to 20 inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches deep, with adequate drainage.
Fill the container with good quality potting soil. Work in a cup of perlite for drainage and a cup of bone meal to support root development.
Dig a hole big enough to accommodate the root ball and place it so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
Fill in the hole and water well.
PRUNING SHRUB ROSES
Most shrub roses, especially modern varieties, bloom on new wood. These are best pruned in early spring before plants break dormancy or when new growth is just emerging. Wait until all danger of severe cold is past.
- Cut back the entire plant to about 3 feet high to make it easier to work on.
- Remove dried and diseased canes back to the base of the plant, as well as branches that cross.
- Take out branches that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.
- Cut remaining canes back to 1 to 2 feet high, just above an outward-facing bud. This will encourage new branches to grow outward for a graceful, arching habit.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHRUB ROSE
For borders and landscapes:
Choose varieties that fit the scale of your landscape. Use as hedging, screening, in a mixed border, or as foundation plantings.
For slopes and hillsides:
Groundcover and smaller shrub roses are suitable for massing along a slope or hillside for erosion control.
Choose small-to-medium varieties and plant in containers that are big enough to accommodate the roots.