Ten ways to plant roses

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Inspired to plant a rose? Don’t hold back. Contrary to popular belief, roses are not difficult to grow and there are beautiful easy-care varieties to suit every situation.


Roses as hedges and block planting

Bold and deliberate mass planting brings strength and character to a garden. If you have the space, a mass of just one rose variety is a breathtaking sight. Choose a variety that looks great for as long as possible. Good foliage and form are important. Ideally, there will be a fabulous long-season flower show, and maybe an autumn display of bright red hips (great for picking). The rugosa roses make excellent hedges because of their showy hips and attractive disease resistant foliage.

Steer clear of varieties prone to problems when mass planting. Unhealthy plants are even more unsightly when you have to look at them en masse! Pruning should be quick and easy. If you want to avoid winter bareness combine a mass planting of roses with a neatly trimmed evergreen hedge, such as Buxus (English box) or Corokia.

Hedge roses

  • Flower Carpet roses (a choice of twelve colours)
  • Blanc Double de Coubert (white) and other rugosa roses
  • Sally Holmes (yellow)
  • Lavender Dream (lavender pink)
  • Iceberg (white)

Ground covering roses

Roses may not be the first plants you think of when you have an expanse of ground to cover, a difficult clay slope or an ugly retaining wall that needs a facelift.  But they can be the perfect solution in all these situations.

A good groundcover rose will grow fast and strongly to block the weeds. It will have a dense multi-branching growth with a good covering of small disease resistant leaves. Ideally it will produce loads of flowers over a very long season. Although roses are deciduous, many are only without leaves for a short period (when there are few weeds to worry about). After a quick winter cut back they’ll burst out with refreshed vigour in early spring.

Ground cover roses

  • Flower Carpet roses (a choice of twelve colours)
  • Phantom (red)
  • Seafoam (cream)
  • The Fairy (pink)
  • Sparkler (white)

Roses in pots

Roses can be grown in pots when paying attention to providing plenty of water and nutrients. Smaller bush roses will thrive in a generous sized container filled with good potting mix. Choose varieties with compact multi-branching growth, a tidy shape and small leaves. Regular watering and feeding is important and small pots are best avoided.

Roses for pots

  • Flower Carpet roses (a choice of twelve colours)
  • Mary Rose (strong pink)
  • Margaret Merril (white)
  • Cecile Brunner (pale pink)
  • Sweet Dream (apricot)

In mixed company

Roses don’t need to be in a formal rose garden. Many of them fit the description ‘shrub rose’ and slot as easily into a mixed garden as any other flowering shrub. An informal cottage garden look is easy to maintain if you choose easy-care roses that remain healthy without spraying and are easily pruned. The likes of Flower Carpet Roses are great for mixing in with other shrubs and flowering perennials. Be sure to include some evergreen shrubs and foliage plants so that your garden doesn’t look bare in winter. Shrub roses come in just about every colour, so you might want to choose a colour theme with roses and companion plants in complementary colours. For example, an all white garden, a pink garden, a hot red and orange border, or classic yellow and blue.

Shrub roses for informal gardens

  • Flower Carpet roses
  • Rugosa roses
  • David Austin roses
  • Mutabilis
  • Iceberg

Standard Roses

A standard rose is one that has been grafted onto a tall rose stock (80-120cm high) with a ball of foliage and flowers on top, like a mini tree. Often used in formal gardens, and ideal for small gardens, standard roses provide the benefit of flowers at eye level with room for another layer of planting below. They also give instant height without growing too much bigger (as opposed to planting a tree). Practically any rose variety can be grafted onto a standard, but those with a bushy or weeping habit and lots of small to medium sized flowers look the most elegant. Tall varieties are not ideal as standards as they become lanky and ungainly. For extra impact standard roses are often planted in groups of one variety, or as a feature in a large pot under-planted with low trailing plants.

Recommended Standard Roses

  • Flower Carpet roses
  • Iceberg (white)
  • Burgundy Iceberg (dark red)
  • Serendipity (yellow)
  • Strawberry Ice (pink and white)


Roses on trellis

Trellis is useful for creating quick privacy or to screen an unsightly view, and lovely with roses. Most trellis is not as robust as a wall or a fence, so choose a moderate climbing rose, rather than an overly vigorous rambler. If the trellis is near a seating area, look for roses that are not too thorny.  Also look for repeat flowering climbers that can be enjoyed all summer long.

Roses for trellis

  • Graham Thomas (yellow)
  • Westerland (orange)
  • Dublin Bay (red)
  • New Dawn (Pink)
  • Bantry Bay (pink)

Over an archway

An archway is the perfect place to grow a romantic old-fashioned rose. Take care to choose one that is not too vigorous for your structure. It should have nice pliable stems, and ideally not too many thorns. Be sure to make you structure tall and wide enough to allow for downward and sideways growth. Since you will be passing though often, you might like to make it a fragrant rose.

Fragrant roses for archways

  • Albertine (salmon pink)
  • Buff Beauty (soft apricot)
  • Crepuscule (apricot)
  • Madame Isaac pereire (purple)
  • Zephirine Drouhin (hot pink)

On an obelisk or pillar

Growing a rose over an obelisk or pillar is a great way to achieve height in the garden. During the winter, the obelisk becomes a feature in its own right. For pillars choose moderate climbing roses or tall shrub roses and prune them to size each winter.

Pillar roses

  • Graham Thomas (yellow)
  • Taffeta (cream)
  • Climbing Iceberg (white)
  • Cecile Brunner (soft pink)
  • Uetersen (bright pink)

Roses for summer shade

Sitting outdoors in summer is all the more enchanting under the shade of a beautiful pergola adorned with climbing roses. If your structure is strong, you can adorn it with vigorous ramblers. Most of these old timers only flower once (in early summer) but the sheer volume of bloom is worth the wait, and the healthy foliage continues to provide shade throughout summer then falls to let the sun through in winter.

Rambling roses for pergolas and gazebos

  • Albertine (salmon pink)
  • Alberic Barbier (cream)
  • Mme Alfred Carriere (white)
  • Veilchenblau (purple)
  • Wedding Day (white)


Especially for picking

All roses look lovely in a vase, but some are tailor-made for the purpose. The hybrid tea roses are the queens of picking roses with long lasting blooms of classic pointed form borne singly on top of long straight stems. Fragrant old-fashioned roses also look fantastic in a vase, especially charming if you mix fragrant doubles with single flowered blooms. Pick roses in early morning or late evening, plunge them into a bucket of water up to their necks before arranging.

Popular picking roses

  • Auckland Metro (white)
  • Blackberry Nip (purple)
  • Loving Memory (red)
  • Hamilton Gardens (apricot)
  • Paddy Stevens (coral)

Summer rose care

  • Watering - Water deeply. In most gardens, a good soaking about every two weeks is enough for established roses. Newly planted roses will need more; at least twice weekly in hot dry weather. To avoid disease problems, don’t use overhead sprinklers. Apply the water directly to the soil.
  • Mulching - A 5-10cm layer of organic mulch conserves soil moisture and prevents weeds.
  • Feeding - For healthy, vigorous growth and flowering, feed roses two or three times during spring summer and autumn.
  • Deadheading - Snipping of spent blooms encourages repeat flowering; snip down to the first or second five leaflet leaf where there should be a strong bud. Removing branches that are growing toward the center of the bush improves air circulation. Use sharp secateurs and cut about 6mm above an outward facing bud or leaflet.


Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



Rose Paddy Stephens
Rose Paddy Stephens

Cecile Brunner
Cecile Brunner

Shrub roses in terracotta pots

A hedge row of rambling roses over a fence

Red standard rose in a border of yellow shrub roses