IN the bleak chill of late winter, it’s cheering to plant up roses in containers. As well as making lovely gifts for a Valentine or friend, they are great additions to our own patios and doorways. Come summer, they will burst into flower, providing scent and color for months.
During February, roses are still in their ‘bare root’ period – meaning they are available to buy without soil. Bare root roses are sold at a much lower price, and many rosarians argue that the roots establish better when planted this way.
Getting the right size
Opt for a compact shrub rose that matures to 31-39in (80cm-1m) or a miniature variety that reaches 11-23in (30-60cm), choosing a container according to the eventual size. A11 in (30cm)-the wide pot will suit a tiny rose, while a bigger cultivar will require a 17in (45cm) container. For the impact of flower power and perfume, opt for the slightly bigger compact shrub rose, which could eventually be planted out.
Crimson, claret, and scarlet roses are ideal Valentine’s gifts – for instance, the bold vermillion ‘Trumpeter’ or the sumptuous damson ‘Munstead Wood’. Roses with affectionate names are also ideal: from ‘Lovestruck’ (magenta) to ‘Together Forever’ (orange). And some gardeners find old roses romantic – just be sure to select one that repeats flowers, such as ‘De Resht’, a Damask found in Iran in 1840.
Best choices for scent
If the scent is your priority, go for a strongly fragrant cultivar. ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ is a modern David Austin rose that has citrus-scented copper blooms above bronze foliage; ‘Scentimental’ is a striped cream, pink, and red variety that has a wonderful spicy perfume; and ‘Fragrant Cloud’ is a classic red flower with a very sweet scent. Modern cultivars usually resist disease better and produce more flowers over a longer period (although that isn’t always the case).
For instance, ‘The Lady Gardener’ (2013) will produce a glut of peach flowers, whereas ‘Just Joey’ (1973) won’t give as many of its apricot blooms. Whichever you pot up this February, it will be ‘ ready to charm you or your Valentine with flowers and scent, come June.
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