Growing Floribunda Roses

A guide to cultivating and pruning floribunda roses: Easier to grow than Hybrid Teas, these provide a colorful floral display in any garden.

What are Floribunda Roses?

It is easier to answer this question if we first define hybrid teas roses. Hybrid tea (HT) roses are cultivars bred to produce large double flowers, singly or in small groups. These are usually borne over a long flowering period. Some make large, vigorous bushes; some are compact and suitable for more confined spaces. They can be grown as either half standard or full standard bushes.

Floribundas are distinguished from HTs because they bear their flowers in large, dense clusters or trusses with many blooms opening simultaneously in each truss. The flowers tend to be technically less perfect than those of HTs and may be single, semi-double, or fully double. Fewer floribundas are scented. However, they are generally more vigorous and tolerant than HTs. They produce more blooms and continue to produce them over a long period. And many varieties offer flowers every bit as big and beautiful as the HTs.

Planting

Roses need an open situation (but not exposed) and a soil well enriched with organic matter. They can be bought bare-rooted from November to March and being much less expensive than container-grown plants, this is the way to buy if you want to plant a whole rose bed. After purchase, immediately stand the roots in a bucket of water. Leave them to soak; roses hate drying. In fact, do this even if you've just collected them from the nursery or garden center.

Before planting, prune the roots back to 8 or 10 inches. This may sound savage, or even horrifying, but it is definitely good practice. It encourages new root growth, particularly of the fibrous kind. Remember, it is the fine, hairy roots of any plant that do the feeding and watering. The thick woody roots serve no purpose other than to anchor the plant in the ground.

Floribundas need to be 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) apart. Having cultivated the ground and having added manure, garden compost, and/or other organic matter, dig a hole wide enough and deep enough to allow the roots to spread out without restriction. Backfill with a mixture of soil and peat, or a peat-free alternative, and incorporate a couple of handfuls of bonemeal, which is high in phosphates and good for root development. Firm in well.

Maintenance

In the first spring after planting (i.e., immediately if you're planting in spring), prune back to three or four buds from the base, This is one of the keys to a vigorous, healthy rose. As growth begins, feed with a rose fertilizer, and continue feeding once a month until the end of July. Do not feed beyond this time.



Pruning of floribundas is best carried out in spring after the risk of frost is past. Frost enters pruning cuts and causes stems to die back. Cut out all weak shoots completely. Remember that a new shoot will never be sturdier than the one from which it is growing, so be ruthless. Prune the strongest of the one-year growth only lightly, as these form the framework of the bush. Remember that, unlike HTs, floribundas are grown as bushes. So where you would prune an HT to almost ground level, you leave a bush structure on a floribunda. As the years progress, prune one-year-old shoots lightly and older growth hard. This way you will have a succession of strong growth always coming from the base.

Pests and Diseases

Hygiene is the key to keeping your roses pest and disease free. Always remove and destroy all prunings, and in the autumn or early winter, gather up and destroy all fallen leaves. The dreaded blackspot overwinters on fallen leaves, ready to jump into the plant again in spring.

Some enthusiasts winter-wash their rose bushes with Armillatox, which rids rose beds of nematodes, fungal build-up, and blackspot. But for the more organically inclined, hygiene is the answer.

Aphids are always a problem, not only because they feed on the sap and reduce the vigor of the plant, but also because they are a carrier of disease. Suffice it to say, whatever your leaning, use all the means at your disposal to keep aphid activity to a minimum.

Fungal diseases, especially Powdery Mildew, thrive in confined spaces. So plant your roses well apart, prune to keep the center of the bushes open, and allow as much air circulation as possible.

Floribundas, along with HTs and many others, are grafted on to rootstocks. The knobbly bit above the roots (the scion) is the join. Sometimes you will see rampant shoots growing from the base of the plant, producing no flowers and usually covered with thorns. That's a sucker, a shoot growing from the rootstock, which is a variety of wild rose. If left, it will quickly sap the strength of the plant. But don't cut it out. Find where it springs from the rootstock, scraping away soil if necessary, and tear it away with a downward pull. That way, you remove all the growth buds. If you cut it, you are simply pruning it, and it will regrow with new vigor from one of the dormant buds you have left behind.

A Few to Try

Glenfiddich: Named after the excellent Scottish Malt. Its color is a beautiful golden-amber with large HT-type flowers, vigorous and upright; it is very fragrant.

Rob Roy is slightly fragrant with an excellent deep red color

Oranges and Lemons have copper-colored young foliage. They are particularly disease resistant, and flowers have an unusual orange/lemon stripe effect.

Ballindalloch Castle has deep coral/salmon blooms. It is a compact plant that is ideal for bedding, and slightly fragrant.

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