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How to Buy Roses for Your Garden

Today, I’m going to share tips for buying roses for your at home garden. I want to share where to buy roses and what kind might be best for your garden.

a rose catalog with ranaculas laying on top of it

My mom always had a garden in front of our house when I was growing up. I would see her out there in the early mornings pulling weeds and watering her flowers before the summer sun got too intense. Her garden was full of lovely irises that I remember cutting and giving to my teachers.

As I have planned for my own garden, I have looked long and hard about what I want to include. Some of my favorites are peonies, tulips, hydrangeas, and old world roses. Today, I’m going to share with you all about the roses that I’ve found and why I fell in love with them. I also want to share where you can find them yourself!

Different types of Roses

Roses are classified into three main types of roses and each are beautiful in their own way. Each rose type adorn our gardens in different ways. The three main types of roses are the:

  • Rose Bush
  • Climbing Rose
  • Rose Shrub

1. Rose Bush

A rose bush is a compact plant that is smaller than a traditional shrub rose. These plants can be potted or planted and will stay tight to the ground. Rose bushes also tend to have lots of rose thorns along the stems. Some growing characteristics of rose bushes are: disease-resistant, fast-growing, long-blooming, and low-maintenance.

2. Climbing Roses

Climbing roses, also known as rambler roses, are made to climb structures to create a beautiful, cascading effect of flowers up a vertical surface, such as a trellis, pergola, or wall. While they don’t actually “climb” on their own, their canes (stems) are very long, making them easy to secure to whatever they are meant to climb.

These flowers are very reminiscent of old English cottages, where they were and are prevalent. One of the most popular types of climbing roses is the David Austin brand.

3. Rose Shrub

Rose shrubs might make you think of a rose bush, but there are a few differences. Shrub roses tend to be a larger variety of rose plant with thornier stems and more potent flowers. While rose bushes usually repeat flower all season, rose shrubs will either flower once or repeat flower, depending on the specific plant.

Not only do shrub roses sprawl out on the landscape, but they can also be maintained and tidied into beautiful shrub walls. This plant is resilient and prefers part to full sun, which helps their stems to be sturdy and produce the most flowers.

desdemona david austin roses clustered outdoors with bright green flowers

What roses did I buy for my garden?

After that brief introduction into roses, I want to share what I am planting in my garden this year. I ended up ordering some beautiful plants from David Austin Roses. I looked at so many rose plants and every time I saw a David Austin rose it blew the rest out of the water. I guess it was the classic, tightly cupped blossoms that did it for me.

There are so many different colors in both the Climber/Rambler and Rose Shrub types. The best time to order these plants is in the fall. David Austin will note what zone you are in and ship your plants to you at the most opportune time for planting.

This is a great service, especially for the new gardener, because it takes the guess-work out of knowing when to plant the rose. The types I ordered are:

  1. Desdemona Rose- an English Shrub Rose
  2. Albrighton Rambler– a vigorous Climbing/Rambler Rose

1. Desdemona Rose

This peachy, pink shrub rose was bred by David Austin himself and is named after the tragic heroine of Shakespeare’s Othello. Once the buds fully open, they will turn a beautiful, white color with a pink tinge to the edge of the petals.

I plan to plant this shrub rose in the front of our home. The best way to plant shrubs is in groups of three. They support each other and grow together, appearing more full and dense.

This rose comes either as a potted rose or as a bare root rose. They are made to be planted in pots/containers, in the ground as a rose hedge, or as a mixed border with other plants. They are excellent for cutting due to its repeat flowering.

2. The Albrighton Rambler

This English rambler will take its place back by our pergola. It should grow at least 10 feet and will repeat-flower for the season, which will create a lush, floral landscape. This plant, too, will start out with blush pink blossoms that will fade to a white-pink as they mature.

The Albrighton Rambler only comes as a bare root (see below for more information on this) plant and should be plant alongside a structure that it can be tied to as it grows.

Make sure you notice if your plant is a CLIMBING rose or a RAMLBER rose. Although, they are used interchangeably, there are slight differences.

Climbing Roses vs. Rambler Roses

Climbing roses are long-caned (long stemmed) rose plants that have large flowers that repeat flower. They grow less vigorously, but still put on a show.

Rambler roses are more vigorous than climbing roses, but they tend to only flower once, unless you get a plant bred to repeat-flower. Their blossoms are small and generally grow in sprays of flowers throughout the plant.

brochure of david austin roses in hues of pink laying on a white counter

Where to buy English roses

  • Online- David Austin
  • Local Garden Center
  • Local Nursery- be sure to ask when they come in so you can get the pick of the patch!
  • Amazon

What are Bare Root Roses?

Buying Bare Root Roses is the traditional way to purchase roses, not to mention that it is the most sustainable way.

Bare root roses are plants that contain the root system, that would be below the earth, and the twigs (or caning) that you would see above ground. These are dormant plants that are dug up at the perfect time so they can be shipped to the gardener waiting to plant them in their garden. 

When they arrive, they are ready to plant, you only need to soak the plant for 4 hours-overnight to rehydrate the roots and prepare it to be planted in the ground.

In some cases, your plant will come to you already in a pot. These plants might be in bloom already or on the cusp of blooming. Plant them soon, according to the directions provided with the rose.

Ways to plant roses

Roses can either be planted in large pots or straight into the ground. Some plants can be planted either way, while others have a specific need when being planted. Regardless, be sure to give your plant plenty of room to spread out and grow- typically 8″-16″ wide/deep.

  • In Pots or Containers
  • In the Ground

Best Soil for Roses

Soil is important when establishing your roses. You want well-watered soil where the plant is in part to full sun. Once you dig the hole according to your plant’s needs, be sure to loosen the dirt at the bottom of the hole and mix some high-quality compost in with the soil you loosened up. This will create a great place for your rose to settle into and encourage good, strong roots.

Best conditions for growing roses

There are so many options when buying roses, so be sure to buy a breed that is fitting for your gardening zone and climate. These plants are pretty hardy and can acclimate to a wide range of conditions, but some can be more temperamental, so be sure to look at the specifics for each plant you want to purchase.

Roses need to be watered well during the hot, summer season. Depending on your location, that may be every other day or once a week. You will know the needs of your plant by the way it looks.

  • Is it burnt up and browning? Water it well.
  • Is it yellowish-green on the leaves? Don’t water it.

Once the hot season is over, the watering becomes less.

Rose Plant Care

Roses need to be deadheaded throughout the season to encourage a long flowering pattern. Deadheading also helps with the health of the overall plant.

As with most plants, they also need to be fed to keep the plant strong and healthy. They typically need to be fed 3-4 times throughout the year- spread out over the growing season.

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a guide for how to buy roses for your home garden

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