How to care for your roses in April
Prepare your roses now for a bumper crop in summer
If you didn’t get around to pruning your shrub roses in March, now is the time to do this before they start their growing period. Take out any dead branches or any which go across the centre of the shrub. Cut the remaining branches down to about the second healthy, strong shoot from the bottom; viable shoots are usually showing red at this time of the year, make sure the shoot is pointing outwards and not into the centre of the shrub. If it has been warm recently they may have started to put out leaves.
Mulch your roses with well-rotted farmyard manure taking care not to go right up to the stem. Spread a handful of rose fertiliser around the bush, again not right up to the stem, hoe it in and if it has been dry recently give it a good water.
The new seasons roses are now in garden centres so if you are planting a new rose make sure it is watered well after planting, at least a gallon, and continue to keep an eye on it over summer to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Dig a hole just slightly deeper than the pot it comes in and spread some well-rotted farmyard manure and a small amount of rose fertiliser into the hole and mix it in with the soil. Take the rose out of the container and tease out the roots then place in the hole. Back fill the hole with the soil, taking care not to create any air pockets. Plant to the same depth as it is in the pot.
If you are considering buying a new rose, ask yourself where it is going to be planted. If going near a seating area then scent is an absolute must. Secondly check if it is resistant to black spot as this can totally denude the plant of leaves and leave it looking unsightly. Black spot is more prevalent in wet weather, it’s not fatal and the plant will grow healthy the following year. Water the rose at the roots not over the foliage as this just washes the black spot onto the lower leaves. If you do get black spot remove the infected leaves both off the plant and from the ground. Either burn the leaves or throw into your grey bin, don’t put them on the compost heap. If aphids become a problem just rub them off between your finger and thumb or place a bird feeder close by and the blue tits will do the job for you.
If you want a small climber, then consider the David Austin shrub roses as many of these will grow to a height of around 8ft (2.4m). If the rose is going into a container make sure the pot is at least 18 x 18ins (45 x 45cms) and plant as you would if it was going into the ground plus use a dedicated rose compost. Place a piece of broken crock over the drainage hole, this is to prevent it clogging with silt. Place the container on pot feet or a couple of bricks so that the water can get away from the container, roses hate sitting in cold sodden compost. Remember to water it regularly in summer, if it is scorching hot and dry it may need watering twice a day, morning and evening, not in the midday sun as a lot of the water will just evaporate. Planting your rose near the herb bed will help keep it pest free as chives, lavender, lemon balm, tarragon and thyme repel a lot of the destructive insects. Deadhead your roses regularly by cutting off the stem at the next shoot down the stem and they will flower for a much longer period.