Fragrant and seductive, roses have been used for centuries to silently convey feelings and emotions thanks to their iconic colours.
It is one of the most iconic and popular flowers sought in any floral arrangement. The rose, which originates from the East, has, since its discovery, been grown and engineered many times to create new strains. The French are among the world’s biggest producers of new strains of roses.
The leaves are a rather decorative part of the rose bush–which can grow up to a height of 3 meters–but are very hardy. Interestingly, there exists a great number of rose bush varieties: climbers, free flowering, ground covering rose bushes, repeat flowering bushes, traditional roses, miniature roses, polyantha roses, etc.
Roses are delicate, fragrant flowers which, in time, came to symbolise different feelings with their different colours. Aside from their decorative qualities, roses are traditionally used in cosmetics to create perfumes as well as beauty products, and are sometimes even showcased in fine dining recipes.
Soil and placement
The best spot for a rose bush is in a place that has good sun exposure, in a preferably rich and well-drained clayey soil. It is harder for a rose to bloom without adequate sunlight.
Most rose plants are sold with bare roots: plant them as soon as you buy them. It is important to cover and wet the roots adequately to boost the revival of the plant. Maintain a 40-50m space between two plants and secure them in a deep hole (60 cm). Boost the soil (compost, manure, etc…). Water the rose bush as soon as it is planted, and subsequently water it regularly to help its roots develop properly.
Roses multiply by grafting. You can also give cutting start-ups a try, or, for botanical bushes, you can also resort to seedlings.
Maintaining a rose bush
Rose bushes have a highly developed root system which extends deep into the soil. Once properly settled, they generally require little watering, except in extended periods of drought, strong heat, or if the soil is sandy. Of course, potted roses or those planted in containers can be watered regularly. In order to minimise watering and maintain a cool soil, mulching is highly recommended to also limit the frequency of weeding at the foot of the rose bush. It must also be pruned every year: at the end of winter for repeat flowering and after blooming for non-repeat flowering bushes. Only botanical bushes can do without pruning. Pick out wilted flowers progressively.
Parasites and diseases
Most rose bushes fall prey to various diseases: oïdium (microscopic fungus), marsonia (black spots), rust (powdery orange pustules under the leaves), chlorose (discoloration of the leaves until they reach a pale yellow or white colour)… Rose bushes can also be affected by aphids, caterpillars and red spiders (in warm and dry weather). There are various fungicides and other natural remedies. Ask more advice from a nursery.
The main types of rose bushes
- Climbers: Their long stems need to be trained against a supporting surface. They can be planted against a wall, a handrail, a fence, to cover a pergola, a gazebo, or even trained on an old tree, and can grow meters tall.
- Rose bushes: They are well-branched from the base up and generally form lower bushes of around 1m high. They are the perfect ornaments for edges.
- Ground-covering rose bushes: They are also well-branched from the base up with long repeating branches which have a tendency to spread. They are moderately high (with heights ranging from 30 to 60 cm).
- Miniature rose bushes: These smaller varieties, albeit less vigorous than their taller counterparts are no less flourishing and can be cultivated in large flower pots.
- Stem rose bushes: These rose bushes are traditionally grafted onto a trunk and form a ball.
One colour, one message
- Red: The symbol of romantic love and everlasting passion.
- White: It represents humility, purity and innocence. The white rose is also associated to budding love and loyalty.
- Yellow: A symbol of friendship, happiness and good intent.
- Pink: A symbol of kindness, femininity, elegance and refinement. The various hues further convey other messages. A darker hue conveys gratitude and appreciation whereas paler hues denote grace, admiration and mirth.
- Orange: It represents enthusiasm and desire.
- Lilac and purple: A symbol of enchantment, desire and love at first sight.
By Marie Gouges
Photo credit: Ejilen Ramasawmy