How to Grow Roses

Roses bring a little magic to a garden, with their heavenly scents, glorious blooms and bursts of colour. Despite common misconceptions about their difficulty, roses are surprisingly easy to grow and bring numerous rewards to gardeners.

Choosing the Right Variety

There are an extensive number of rose varieties available on the market. When choosing the perfect plant for your garden or pots, you can select from the following: 

  • Old Fashioned Roses: These tried and proven varieties can either be bush or climbers, often with a remontant (flowering more than once in a season) nature. They are invariably more disease resistant, and can have very fragrant blooms.
  • Hybrid Tea: The classic single stem rose, available with scent and in a variety of colours. 
  • Floribunda: (means many-flowering) These have multiple blooms on each stem and are known for blooming constantly. 
  • Climber: These have long meandering canes and can be trained to grow on trellis fence or support structures. Canes have multiple blooms. 
  • Shrub: Naturally disease resistant these grow in any climate and soil with minimum maintenance and are very compact. They have a long blooming season and many flowers. 
  • Banksia Roses: These are your evergreen climbing roses that flower from early spring and intervals right through to late autumn. 


When you purchase your rose, it may be bare-rooted or potted. Bare rooted plants are generally cheaper and will need to be planted as soon as possible. With potted varieties be careful not to disturb the root system when you plant them.

  • Regional Tips In general – the colder the climate the better the roses. 


Roses can grow in a variety of soils as long as they have good drainage.

  1. Find a spot in the garden that gets plenty of sun and is not crowded in by other plants or trees, as good airflow reduces the risk of pests and diseases. 
  2. Soak your rose in Garden Time Seafeed. This will help to prevent transplant shock.
  3. Once you have found your spot, prepare the soil by digging in some Garden Time Compost and create a hole bigger than the base of the plant.  
  4. Place the plant in the hole, being careful not to disturb the roots, and fill in the hole, patting the soil down so it is compact. It's very important the base of the stem is flush with the ground level so the bud union is slightly higher than the ground. 
  5. Give your rose a generous watering to help the roots settle in.
  6. Lastly, put a generous layer, about 5cm deep of Daltons Premium Mulch & Grow around the base of the plant. This will help to keep the water from evaporating and to keep the roots at a consistently cool temperature.

Feeding and Watering

Feed Roses with Garden Time Rose & Flower Fertiliser or Premium Rose and Flower Fertiliser from mid-late October through to early December – the fertiliser is designed especially for roses and helps provide good bloom strength, colour and vigour.

Avoid fertilising in the height of summer when plants are struggling with the heat. Recommence feeding again from mid-February through to early April. Give established plants a top-up of Daltons Enriched Compost or Daltons Garden TimeTM Compost at the beginning of spring.

Apply fertiliser around the base of (but not touching) the plant and water in well.

Give roses a deep watering every two weeks at ground level and regularly apply Daltons Premium Mulch & Grow. Avoid getting foliage wet as encourages disease.  

Pruning Roses

Roses need to have their canes cut back every year to encourage the plant to flower. They should be pruned back hard, taking off at least 2/3rds of the length of the cane. The end result you are trying to achieve is a vase shape. This may not be always possible, and it can take a few prunes to train the plant. When making your cuts, bear in mind they need to be as clean as possible and positioned just above a bud. Always cut at a 45-degree angle so rainwater runs off. 

For most varieties, pruning should be done during winter from June. In cooler climates you can prune earlier once all the leaves have fallen, in warmer climates delay pruning until mid-late July when the plant has lost all its leaves.

  1. Start by removing any leaf debris around the base of the plant and cutting off any diseased or dead wood.  
  2. Remove any canes that are older than three years or on dead wood, then thin out overgrown canes or inward grown branches.  
  3. The middle of the plant needs to have good airflow so cut back any canes in the centre. The only canes that should be kept are those growing from the bud union.
  4. Prune in this manner once a year to help to build up a well-balanced rosebush and promote the growth of new canes.
  5. To ensure continuity of flowering, deadhead your rosebush throughout the growing season.

Year-Long Maintenance

Top Tasks for Autumn (March/April/May)

  • Assess your garden, replace any existing roses that have not flowered well or are prone to diseases during the season. 
  • It’s a good time to browse catalogues and plan. If your roses have suffered from diseases then look for new or disease-resistant varieties.
  • Remove old flowers to encourage new flowering growth.
  • Do not over fertilise existing plants during this period, and remember to mulch with Daltons Premium Mulch & Grow.
  • If replacing existing roses or preparing beds for new ones, dig in lots of organic matter such as compost.
  • If you have taken care of your roses and depending on variety, enjoy a final autumn display.

Top Tasks for Winter (June/July/August)

  • June/July are the best months to plant, relocate and prune roses.
  • Wait till leaves have dropped before pruning.
  • Prune any dead or diseased wood, prune out all inward growing branches and shorten all other branches back by at least half or more. (Note: this is dependent on variety). Prune to outward-facing buds.
  • Make clean cuts with no straggly ends.
  • One week after pruning spray with Lime Sulphur and/or a Copper compound such as Copper Oxychloride to ward off fungal diseases (do not mix these sprays together), then 3 or 4 days later apply a horticultural spray such as Conqueror Oil to kill off any overwintering pests (again, do not mix with copper).
  • Ensure any climbers are secured to supports and stake any standard roses.
  • Apply Daltons Premium Mulch & Grow for nutrient retention and weed control.

Top Tasks for Spring (September/October/November)

  • Water plants occasionally.
  • If you notice signs of disease or pests – spray immediately. Remember once you commit to spraying, you must follow a regular regime throughout the season.
  • Feed with Garden Time Rose & Flower Fertiliser from late October to Christmas, apply an extra layer of Daltons Premium Mulch & Grow and enjoy.

Top Tasks for Summer (December/January/February)

  • Avoid fertilising plants during summer as they are heat stressed.
  • Water regularly and apply Daltons Premium Mulch & Grow to keep moisture and nutrients in.
  • Pay special attention to potted roses to ensure they do not dry out.
  • Spray every two weeks throughout summer to treat any disease or pests.
  • Deadhead once a week to encourage repeat flowering.
  • Enjoy your summer blooms!

Roses respond well to generous amounts of water and nutrition. Maintaining a good mulch layer is essential for the summer months and we recommend the application of Daltons Premium Rose Fertiliser early spring and again once the first flowers begin to open.

Pests and Diseases

Roses are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. However, if you have a good management schedule for feeding, watering and pruning you greatly reduce the risk of having problems.

Straight after your winter pruning is completed apply a very thorough clean-up spray of horticulture oil such as Conqueror Oil and an application of Copper compound such as Copper Oxychloride. Garden hygiene is very important with roses so remove any dead leaves or diseased wood from the ground. Don’t put them in the compost bin – remove them from the property as they can harbour overwintering fungal diseases and re-infect your plants come spring. 

If you do need to spray, apply a good quality horticultural oil when the first bloom is completed (around late November / early December – variety dependent) and continue spraying at 3-4 weekly intervals until the end of the season (around April). You also need to consider the weather, so re-apply after rainfall as protection will be washed off – this can mean spraying several days apart. To help reduce black spot and rust, maintain your roses in good physical condition throughout the summer months. 

SCALEConqueror oil applied (summer rate) once or twice should easily solve this problem.
BLACK SPOTA good quality horticultural oil should be applied three weekly intervals throughout growing season.
APHIDSA good quality horticultural oil should also treat any aphid problems (three weekly intervals throughout the growing season). 


Garden Terms Explained

Airflow  Keeping leaves and branches not too bushy so air can get through.
Bloom The actual flower.
Bud union This is the swollen or knob area where the bud has been grafted (joined) with the rootstock. This is usually the point at the base of the plant stem where all the branches start from.
Cane Branches.
Deadheading roses  The removal of finished blossoms (or deadheads) to encourage the plant to re-bloom. 
Debris  Old dead branches, leaves and flowers. 
Deep watering Watering at ground level for a longer period.
Digging in Mix compost into existing soil by digging and turning the fork.
Fertilise Feed with products that have special ingredients for specific types of plants.
Good drainage Usually related to the soil that lets water run through it. 
Leaf bud A little bump on the stem or cane where a new leaf is forming.
Mulch An layer of organic material (bark mulch) put on the ground level to protect a plant.
Stem Shoots that bear leaves and flowers.
Pruning Cutting off specific parts of a plant to encourage new growth.