How to Plant and Grow English Rose

English Rose Overview

Genus Name Rosa
Common Name English Rose
Plant Type Rose
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 2 to 5 feet
Flower Color Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Fall Bloom, Reblooming, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Cut Flowers, Fragrance, Good for Containers
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Layering, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Slope/Erosion Control

English roses are some of the most fragrant flowers available. Their double blossoms are a cross between old-fashioned and modern ones, combining their sweet fragrance with lush colors.  

English roses are hardy in Zones 5-9 and have a better habit than many older types. They fit in among perennials, often becoming the star of the garden. You can find English roses in a variety of colors, from traditional soft pinks and whites to vibrant corals, oranges, and yellows. Petal counts of these roses are substantial–some of the largest you'll find. Many of the English roses also rebloom.

Where to Plant English Rose

Plant English rose along walkways, near seating areas, or anyplace its scent can be enjoyed. They need lots of sunlight to thrive.

When and How to Plant English Rose

Plant roses after the last frost in the spring or six weeks before the first frost in fall. By planting early enough in fall, the roots have time to get established before going dormant for the winter. The hole you dig should fit the entire root system. Plants should be at least 3 feet apart to allow for growth.

English Rose Care Tips

Along with being prolific bloomers, English roses are relatively low maintenance.

English roses require well-drained soil to thrive. Because some types rebloom and grow vigorously, make sure to amend the soil with rich, well-aged compost and add fertilizer according to package directions.

Light

English roses perform best in full sun. This produces the largest and biggest number of blossoms while preventing any foliar diseases. However, English roses do well in part sun, particularly in warmer climates where sheltered afternoon sun keeps them cool during the heat of the day and also helps create the most intense fragrance.

Soil and Water

The soil for English roses may need manure or organic compost, and if the ground has clay products or is packed tightly, loosen it up about a foot into your hole to improve drainage. Water roses at the base of the plant to avoid getting leaves and buds wet, which can result in fungal diseases.

Temperature and Humidity

The steamy air may mean roses need less water when it's very humid. Only add extra water if they're drooping. High temperatures can also bring pests that can damage your flowers.

If you live in a cooler Zone, you may need to protect your roses during winter. Wait until the soil has frozen so they'll stay frozen until spring.

Fertilizer

If your garden has rich soil or you regularly amend it with compost or other forms of organic matter, you probably won't need to feed your plants. If you're growing roses in containers, use an all-purpose fertilizer, but be careful not to overfeed, which can be damaging to your plants.

Pruning

English roses benefit from regular pruning to keep them looking their best while encouraging healthy flowers. Prune in late winter, just before new growth emerges. A general rule is to prune your rose back by about one-third of the total height to maintain its current size and shape. You can prune more or less depending on how large you want your shrub to grow. You can also prune after the initial wave of blossoms to help hasten along a second set of flowers.

Potting and Repotting English Rose

Potting roses can keep plants growing for many years, as long as you repot them when they get too big for their containers. The process of potting and repotting roses is similar to planting them in the ground. 

Pests and Problems

Uneven soil moisture and drought encourage fungal diseases, so remove any dead or dying branches. Air circulation around your plant prevents powdery mildew and black spot fungus, which are common problems for roses. Deer will eat roses when given a chance, so fence off your plants if there are deer in your area.

How to Propagate English Rose

Propagate roses via younger plants with easily-cut less-woody stems. You'll need to be patient with successfully propagating, which can take a few months, and the time it takes for new plants to grow, which can take a few years.

Types of English Rose

'Gertrude Jekyll' Rose

gertrude jekyll rose
Doug Hetherington

Rosa 'Gertrude Jekyll' offers rich magenta blooms that unfold from fringed buds on an upright, vigorous plant. The flower fragrance is a rich antique rose perfume. Plants can be maintained as tall shrubs or encouraged to climb to 10 feet. Otherwise, it grows to 5-6 feet tall. This reliable variety is hardy in Zones 5-9.

'Graham Thomas' Rose

'Graham Thomas' rose

This variety of Rosa bears warm peachy-yellow blooms that appear in clusters and have the enticing scent of antique roses and a hint of violets. This vigorous variety grows to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide as a pruned shrub rose or 12 feet tall as a climber. Zones 4-9

'Heritage' Rose

English rose

Rosa 'Heritage' features huge, pale pink blooms that possess a sweet combination of fruit, honey, and carnation. They appear continuously through the season on the rounded, shrubby plant. It grows to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide as a shrub or to 7 feet if allowed to climb. Zones 5-9

'Mary Rose' Rose

'Mary Rose' rose

This particular rose is an early bloomer that produces full, ruffled double flowers in a sweet pink permeated with an antique rose, honey, and almond fragrance. The plant forms a dense shrub that grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 4-9

'Mary Magdalene' Rose

'Mary Magdalene' rose

Rosa 'Mary Magdalene' bears apricot-pink petals around a central button in a flower style called a rosette. The double blooms have a sweet tea-rose scent. This variety grows to 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

'Jean Giono' Rose

'Jean Giono' rose

This Rosa selection is a French-bred variety that produces full, double blooms packed with spice-scented golden-yellow petals with tangerine centers. The foliage is a shiny dark green. The plants grow 4-5 feet tall and are hardy to Zone 5, with winter protection.

'The Dark Lady' Rose

'The Dark Lady' rose

Rosa 'The Dark Lady' bears large, crinkled blooms that blend shades of red and violet and unfurl on a plant that spreads slightly and grows to 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

'St. Swithun' Rose

'St. Swithun' rose

This variety of Rosa bears bowl-shaped, frilled blooms in clear pink, redolent of myrrh, that appear on a vigorous plant with climbing tendencies. The canes can be pruned to maintain a medium shrub rose shape or encouraged to climb to 8 feet. The plant is covered with disease-resistant foliage and grows 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 5-9

'Othello' Rose

'Othello' rose

Rosa 'Othello' features fully double, dusky crimson flowers that repeat throughout the summer and contrast with the dark green foliage. They have a strong, antique rose fragrance. This variety is thorny and very hardy. It grows to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 5-9

'The Prince' Rose

'The Prince' rose

Rosa 'The Prince' produces cupped rosettes of deep crimson that darken to a mysterious shade of dusky purple. They possess a strong antique rose fragrance. The plant is a good repeat bloomer and compact, reaching 2-1/2 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are English roses climbers?

    Yes they are, but it can take a few years for them to fill in a wall or arbor. They usually grow to be 5 or 6 feet tall.

  • When were the firsts English roses introduced?

    English roses are sometimes referred to as Austin roses or David Austin roses. They were introduced in 1969, and the first ones were named Wife of Bath and Canterbury.

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