Plant of the week: Shrub roses
Now’s the time to plant them bare-root, and it’s cheaper too!
Everyone loves roses, but these days few can afford the luxury of a dedicated rose garden, or even a bed full of gawky Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. With space at a premium, roses are now integrated among other plantings, particularly perennials, and must be repeatflowering and with effective disease resistance, which is why shrub-types have become the go-to roses of choice.
The group comprises a number of different types, notably rugosas, hybrid musks, both modern and English roses and ground cover types, collectively possessing a tough, shrubby constitution, well-clothed in foliage. Their variety of habits also lends them versatility, with some making climbers, if pruned and shaped accordingly, others happy in pots, while others are effective at covering the ground.
The English roses, bred in the last 30 years by David Austin are justifiably popular, with old-fashioned floral styling and good to excellent fragrance on a 1.2m (4ft) shrub. Others come from earlier breeders such as Edwardian rosarian Joseph Pemberton, who bred ‘Felicia’, or Ann Bentall, who introduced ‘Buff Beauty’ and ‘Ballerina’, while there are also striking selections from wild species, such as Rosa rugosa. All are easy to grow and our selection here gives an indication of the range available, all of which can be planted bareroot from now until May.
On receiving your bare-root plant, untangle the root system and prune off any roots that are broken. Trim back over long roots to 20-30cm (8in-1ft). Pop the bush in a bucket of clean, cold water for a couple of hours. You can also use a mycorrhizal root dip to aid establishment or mix similar preparations into the planting soil, adding a slow-release fertiliser. Plant with the graft point just buried below soil level, firm in soil and
water in. Prune shoots so they’re uncrossed and evenly spaced.