Four reasons why you need to plant a rose in April or May

Four reasons why you need to plant a rose in April or May

There are dozens of reasons why including roses in your planting scheme is a great idea, but here's just four to whet your appetite for these beautiful shrubs:

Firstly, in springtime, it’s gratifying to bask in the colours of the growing season and there’s a vibrancy which is much-needed after what seems like a long winter. But the spring doesn't last forever and there's often a flowering lull in June. Good gardeners are masters at planning ahead, so now is the perfect time to plug the June gap!

April and May are full of vitality, with blooms coming thick and fast. Crocuses, daffodils, grape hyacinths, tulips, alpines such as Aubrieta, spring blossom on trees, Camellias, Forsythia and other spring flowering shrubs are packing a punch that has amazing vitality. But afterwards, the energy gradually slows and can dwindle away to almost nothing. Unless you plan to change this sorry state of affairs! Now is the perfect time to plan for a patch of paradise instead and plant a rose or two. After all, who couldn't want to have a bloom like the glorious 'Happy Anniversary' rose below?

Orange rose flowering in the garden

Secondly, by creating a rosy glow you make something that's not only good for you, but great for wildlife too

bee on a pink rose

Roses are not only good for our senses, but for insects too, providing a rich source of nectar for bees, hover flies and other beneficial bugs. 

Thirdly, by planting a rose you are automatically embracing a British historical connection

Our love affair with the rose can be traced back to the 15th century after the famous Wars of the Roses. The civil wars that tore England apart in a bid for the throne involved the royal house of Lancaster, which had an emblem of a red rose, and the royal house of York, which displayed a white rose. The eventual combination of both resulted in the familiar Tudor rose which became the floral heraldic emblem of England.

The tudor rose was adopted as a badge by Henry VII

During the 18th century, roses from around the world found their way to England. Each was greeted with amazement and desire for more. There are now more than 35,000 varieties of roses worldwide. This is a bloom that is mainly native to Asia, but it can flourish almost all over the globe.

a red and white rose, shown off against green foliage

They also make the perfect gift - and did you know that the colour has a hidden meaning?

Let's look at the meaning of rose colour:

red rose against a black background
  • The traditional red rose is one of the most well-known symbols of love. Red lips, hot passion and romance can all be represented by rich red roses!
  • Dark pink roses are often chosen to display gratitude and thanks.
  • Pale pink is symbolic of gracefulness and charm.
  • Yellow roses represent happiness and good cheer, so might be chosen as a gift for someone who is unwell.
  • White roses suggest purity and are a popular choice for weddings, but also funerals because they represent new beginnings.
  • Orange roses convey enthusiasm and excitement and these are often chosen for a good luck gift.
  • Peach roses are elegant and modest, perfect for a gift of thanks for someone who is charming.

Yellow rose against a black background

There are now many 'special occasion' roses that have been named specifically as a celebration of an event. So a rose bush is a great way to give a gift that grows.

Rose care

There are shrub, or bush roses, climbers, ramblers and patio roses in addition to miniature versions. Then there are flowers that appear as hybrid tea – i.e. one bloom to a stem, or floribunda which appear in clusters. All of them require a certain amount of care.

pink floribunda roses

The traditional, formal rose bed has a severe drawback: it enables disease to spread between bushes very quickly. Roses can suffer from problems including rusty leaves, black spot, mildew, root rot, aphids and more.

Many people resort to spraying, but those keen on maintaining in a more organic fashion might need to be more vigilant. Removing diseased foliage before it fully develops is good practice.  Encouraging birds to feed nearby is a good way to control aphids. Roses also need to be pruned twice a year and you should bear in mind that the spiny thorns have no respect for blemish-free skin.

pink rose bushes

New varieties and planting schemes can sometimes be better (but not always)

Some varieties have been bred for their robust nature and resistance to disease, and they can be used to blend into planting schemes with ease. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t incorporate this plant into borders and mixed beds, and this is normally where the best results are enjoyed.

Not everyone loves this ‘favourite flower’ (SHOCK, HORROR!)

The late Christopher Lloyd of Great Dixter, for example,  rather than deciding to plant a rose, preferred to remove all roses from his famous garden in 1997, calling the rose a ‘miserable and unsatisfactory shrub of stick-like thorny blobs’. This was in spite of the fact that the Great Dixter geometric rose garden had been designed by Lutyens back in 1912.

great dixter house and garden

The majority of us will be eager to plant now for summer colour. Roses appreciate fertile, free-draining soil, a fair amount of water and a mulch in order to prevent drying out. They will reward with exotic blooms and hopefully some heady perfume, depending on the variety. The unusual 'Hot Chocolate', pictured below, has highly fragrant blooms and was once crowned 'Rose of the Year'.

the chocolate rose

You don’t need rose-tinted spectacles to enjoy the many delights that roses bring to a garden, so step out this month and plant some!