March is often the first month that starts to feel Spring-like.  The equinox (20th March) followed by the clocks changing (the weekend of 25th/26th March) always feel like positive steps towards being able to spend more time in the garden!

Arguably, March is a great time to plant almost anything; the soil is warming up and plants are starting to grow, so take that opportunity to establish them just before they get into glorious growth.  For us, however, in March we would choose to plant a rose.  Perhaps the most loved and most English of flowers (even though their origins hark from far more exotic shores than this), a rose is always a statement plant in any garden, and there is always a rose variety to suit any spot.  Here is our guide to planting a potted rose so that it will thrive.

Where to plant?

Roses are quite versatile plants but they do like sunshine.  Their ideal spot should get at least four hours of sunlight a day (so east or west facing aspects are very suitable).

Roses – especially hybrid tea varieties – can be a little bit like ‘prima donnas’; they don’t like too much competition.  If you can, give your rose plenty of space so that its roots don’t have to compete with large, established plants, like trees or hedges; it will be happier.

What is your soil like?

Roses thrive in ‘Goldilocks’ soil – not too sandy, not too clayey.  What gardeners describe as a good loam is best: it has enough organic matter to hold water long enough for the roots to drink without becoming waterlogged. If your soil is sandy, add as much compost, leaf mould or well-rotted manure as you can to provide that organic ‘body’.  If your soil is very heavy or clay, add some sand or gravel to provide drainage. Many gardeners choose to add some fertilizer or specialist rose food to their soil before planting a rose to give it extra food – but we’ll touch on that again in our ‘after planting’ section.

Preparing to plant

While you’re getting ready to plant, it’s a good idea to sit your new rose – pot and all – in a bucket of water for 20 minutes or so.  This gives it a good drink ready for planting.

While it’s rehydrating, prepare the place you want to plant.  Dig through well, removing any weeds, roots and large stones.  If you’re adding anything to the soil, now is the time to work it in.  Dig a hole that is wide enough to accommodate the existing pot, with plenty of room to spare; it should just be deep enough that the soil in the pot will be level with the ground.  With a garden fork, break up the soil at the base of the hole to improve drainage and ensure the roots can easily grow downwards.

Planting

Lift your pot from the bucket and let the excess water drain out, then knock the rose out of the pot.  If the rose seems to be root-bound (lots of roots circling around the root ball) gently break some of them loose; this helps to generate new root growth and stop them continuing to grow in circles.

If you are using it, apply a sprinkling of mycorrhizal fungi* over the exposed roots and the sides and bottom of your hole.

Now sit your rose in the hole and stand back to look at it.  Check it is level and aligned as you want it.  When you are happy with the positioning, you can back fill the hole with your soil or organic matter.  Lightly firm the soil in to ensure there are no air pockets and the roots are making good contact with the soil.

Finally, give it a good watering.  Although we watered the pot before planting, watering now also helps to ensure good contact with the soil and gives the plant the best start.

After planting

To help your rose establish, ensure it gets plenty of water for the first summer and during dry spells in any season. A stressed plant (whether through drought, pests or disease) is likely to show in its leaves first so keep an eye on any changes or unseasonal leaf-dropping for early signs of distress.

Roses can be quite greedy plants so an annual feed with rose food or well-rotted manure will be appreciated.  You may also want to give it an organic mulch; as well as helping to retain moisture and reduce weeds, many organic mulch materials will slowly breakdown into the soil, providing an extra source of enrichment.  Just make sure to leave ‘breathing space’ around the trunk and base of your rose so the mulch doesn’t cause it to rot.

To keep your rose blooming, be sure to cut – or at least dead head – blooms regularly.  Most roses prefer to be pruned from late winter so check back and we’ll have our advice on doing that for you!

In the meantime, if you’d like our guide to the different varieties of rose and which might suit your garden, click here: https://hambrooks.co.uk/coming-up-roses/

* A note on mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizas are tiny but beneficial fungi which grow around plants’ roots.  They take natural sugars from the plants’ roots in exchange for moisture and nutrients the fungi have gathered from the soil.  This exchange – effectively – increases the capacity of a plants roots to absorb water and important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

To help a plant establish and to boost fruits and flowers, gardeners sometimes add mycorrhizal fungi to the planting hole and sprinkled over the roots. Mycorrhizas also seem to give some protection against root diseases.

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N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.

Marsha

We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”
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