Graham Thomas roses were first bred in 1983 in the United Kingdom by David Austin. David Austin is perhaps one of the most well known rose hybridizers in the world. With over 40 years of experience, he specializes in climbing and shrub roses, as well old English roses. The rose Graham Thomas was created by crossing the Charles Austin rose with an offspring of the floribunda rose Iceberg, and an unnamed seedling. The result is a wonderful deep yellow English rose that has a strong tea scented fragrance.
The shrub rose Graham Thomas will grow anywhere from 5 feet tall to a full 10 feet tall at full maturity, with a width of anywhere from 4 to 8 feet across. This rose gets absolutely huge to make sure that you select a location that is suited to its full growth, or you may find that you need to do a lot of pruning to keep up. The blooms on this rose will be very full, having as many as 35 or so petals each. This hardy rose is very resistant to diseases and will do well in zones 5 through 10.
Growing the rose Graham Thomas is pretty straight forward and if you have any past experience growing roses, then you should not really find this one to be all that difficult. The most important decision you will make in the life of your roses is where in your garden you ultimately grow them. Roses require a lot of sun light if you want them to perform well and this variety is no exception. Try to select a location that gets at least 6 to 8 hours each day of full sun.
You also are going to need to grow your Graham Thomas roses in soil that drains very well. This is not a difficult issue but I am often surprised at how many growers overlook this important point. Roses that are grown in soil that stays too wet for too long tend to do very poorly. They will be weak and spindly and almost always do not produce near as many blooms as you would hope. All you really need to do is take a trip to your local garden center and pickup a soil mix that is designed for roses. For most gardens, this is the simplest way to make sure that you are using the right soil type for your rose Graham Thomas.
Getting your rose Graham Thomas into the ground is not hard and if you have access to a few basic hand tools, then you should not have any issues. How you plant your rose does depend a little bit on how you purchased it. If you bought your rose locally, then chances are they already had it planted for you in a container and ready to bloom. These are the easiest roses to plant. Dig your hole at least twice the diameter of the container and equally as deep. This will make sure the bud union stays at its original depth while giving you plenty of room around the roots for your soil mix.
If you bought your Graham Thomas roses online, then they were probably shipped to you as bareroot plants, which is pretty common. You should first soak the roots of these roses overnight in a bucket of water that is room temperature. Then dig your hole as wide as the longest roots on the plant, and deep enough to allow you to set the plant on top of a mound of soil while keeping the bud union no more than an inch or so below the surface once planted.
Once you have your rose Graham Thomas set in place on top of the mound, spread the roots out in all directions and then back fill the hole about halfway to start, using your soil mix. Take your garden hose and water the loose soil heavily until it flows around the roots like mud, then you can go ahead and finish filling the hole the rest of the way. Give the soil one more heavy watering and be sure to top off any final settling, but do not tamp down the soil and compact it around the roots. This method should make sure that you don’t get any air pockets around the roots of the rose.
Taking care of the rose Graham Thomas is pretty straight forward and once again, any past experience you may have growing roses will certainly come in handy here as well. You will need to provide your roses with ample water and nutrients while being careful not to overdo it. For most climates this amounts to about one deep watering per week. If you live in a very hot or dry climate, then you should check on your roses every couple of days.
You also should consider giving your Graham Thomas roses a dose of a granular all-purpose fertilizer in the very early spring when the leaves begin to open up. This will help get you off to a great start! Like many other roses, this variety is also a repeat bloomer which means it will benefit from a few additional feedings over the course of the growing season. I usually give my roses their second feeding right after they have finished the first big bloom, then a third feeding sometime around midsummer to encourage late season flushes. Your rose Graham Thomas should do nicely on this schedule as well.
You should prune your rose Graham Thomas in the very early spring when the weather begins to warm but before the leaves start to open. This will make pruning so much easier. Start by removing all the dead and discolored wood from the plant and set your cuttings aside. Next, prune back any later canes that overlap one another because these will eventually compete for sun light when the leaves fully open. Lastly, give any remaining canes a cut back by about one third of their current height to promote new growth.
This is also the best time to clean up around the leaves of your Graham Thomas roses to get rid of any dead leaves and debris. Throw all of this material away in the trash, along with your cuttings. Never let dead material lay around your roses as it quickly can turn into a breeding ground for pests and diseases. Finish up your pruning by giving your rose Graham Thomas a fresh new layer of mulch to start off the growing season.
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