Introduction to Rose Hedges:
Creating your own hedges out of various rose bushes is a great technique for adding privacy to your property, as well as defining borders. While some might think this is difficult to do, you might be surprised to find out that in some ways, it's actually easier than growing roses individually. Typically when you grow roses, you growing to fill out a certain space in your garden and you have to train the rose bush to grow as you want it. With hedge roses, you can grow and trim them back just as you would any other hedge plant, either by hand or electric trimmers.
While a single rose bush can turn any drab garden into something special, a line of rose hedges can turn your entire property into an eye-catching work of art. Lots of homes use the same green hedges to border their property, but there's nothing really exciting about those. If you are going to take the time to plant, trim, and care for hedges, why not consider hedges roses instead. The maintenance is just about the same and not only will they improve the look of your property, but they'll be a lot more fun to work on as well.
Planning Rose Hedges:
If you've read any of our other pages on planting roses, you've found some great tips on how to plant the specific varieties. One of the best things I like about hedge roses is the fact that you can really pick and choose just about any rose to make this work. If you want an entire row of white roses, you can plant Icebergs, if you want to alternate red and white, you can use the Don Juan, or any number of other varieties. There are very few limitations to hedge roses other than your imagination.
Once you have decided on the color scheme you want for your rose hedges, you are going to need to take some measurements and carefully lay out your hedge. Nothing looks worse than a hedge row that has gaps or sparse areas along it. Typically it is suggested that you plant roses far enough apart that they don’t creep together. In this case you need to throw that rule out the window. You are going to need to keep your hedge roses around 2 feet apart, maybe a little less depending on the variety. Don't worry about them growing together as that's the whole point!
Planting Rose Hedges:
Planting your hedge roses is a simple matter, but unlike planting a single rose bush, it's going to be much more time consuming so don't stress out about doing everything in one day. You can break the project up in sections if you need to. Now if you purchased your roses in containers, I think the process is a little easier because you can lay them all out to make sure you get them straight. If you bought bareroot plants, then you might want to stake out a line of string to help you keep it straight.
When planting rose hedges from containers, you can figure out the spacing and go along and dig each hole roughly twice the size of the containers they came in. It's good to have a wheelbarrow handy with some organic mulch, so you can mix the freshly dug up soil in for a much better planting mix. For bareroot plants, the idea is to dig the whole wide enough to accommodate the roots without forcing them into the hole.
Set the plant in so the bud union is about an inch or so deep (deeper for climates with colder winters), and backfill the hole about halfway. Water your hedge roses thoroughly to make sure the soil covers the roots adequately, then backfill the rest of the way and water again.
Growing Rose Hedges:
Growing hedge roses is no different than growing a rose by itself, but there are a few minor things you do differently. For starters, roses will require a lot more water than normal hedge plants, and many growers just simply use a sprinkler or hose and water them from a distance. While this works fine for some plants, I usually try to avoid watering my roses from the leaves down as they may not always dry out in between waterings and that's an invitation for diseases. Anytime you can water your rose hedges along the base, it's always preferable.
Feeding hedge roses is also slightly different than just managing a single rose bush. Start off by using a good all-purpose granular fertilizer rather than the liquid chemical ones. In my experience, the liquid fertilizers have a tendency to burn roses if not applied correctly. I like to give my roses their first feeding in early spring just as the leaves begin to develop, a second one just as the first bloom begins to form, and another one around mid-July. Always make sure you leave at least 4 weeks in between feedings.
Pruning Rose Hedges:
Pruning hedge roses I've found to be a joy and actually very simple to do. With typical roses, you have to break out the hand shears and carefully remove certain canes. While the same basic principles apply to hedge roses, I've found it much easier to go along in the early spring with the electric trimmers and shape them up right at the start of the season and let them grow from there.
Now I prefer to let them grow on their own throughout the year and just retrim them the following year, but many varieties will allow you to prune them after flowering and will flower again. If this is what you're after then you need to make sure that you plant the right varieties from the getgo.
Always make sure to gather up and dispose of rose cuttings and dead canes. Never leave them lie around the ground and composting is usually a bad idea because you risk spreading diseases.
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