Wife of Bath roses were first bred in 1969 in the United Kingdom by David Austin. David is one of the world’s leading hybridizers of roses, specializing in old English shrub and climbing roses. This particular rose was created by crossing the hybrid tea rose Madame Caroline Testout, with the offspring of the Constance Spry and Ma Perkins roses. The result is a classic pink rose with soft blush outer petals.
The rose Wife of Bath will produce great blooms that average about 4 inches or so in diameter. The blooms will be very full, carrying as many as 55 petals each and they will have a moderate fragrance of myrrh. The plant itself will stay compact and bushy, only growing about 4 feet tall at full maturity. The rose Wife of Bath will also spread out about 3 feet in diameter and this is an excellent choice if you are looking to grow a container rose on your porch or patio.
Growing the rose Wife of Bath is not hard and if you have any prior experience growing roses, then you really should not find this one to be all that difficult. The biggest decision that you will make in the life of your roses is where in your garden you ultimately choose to grow them. Roses require a lot of sun light if you want them to perform well and this one is no exception to that rule. For this reason, try to find a location in your garden that will provide no less than 6 to 8 hours each day of direct sun light. If you can provide more, then that is preferable.
You will also need to grow your Wife of Bath roses in soil that drains very well. This is common for all roses but I am often surprised at how many growers overlook this aspect of rose growing. If your soil does not provide the proper growing conditions for your roses, not only will they under-perform but they will often become weak and sickly plants. A trip to your local garden center can usually resolve this problem. Pick up a bag of soil mix that is designed specifically for roses and that should take the guesswork out of it for you. Your rose Wife of Bath will thank you for it.
Getting your rose Wife of Bath into the ground is pretty straight forward and most growers can get the job done fairly easily with just a few hand tools they probably already own. If you bought your roses from a local nursery, then it may have come already planted for you in a container. These are the easiest roses to plant. Dig your hole at least twice the diameter of the container and equally as deep. This will give you plenty of room around the roots for your soil mix, while keeping the bud union at its original depth.
If you bought your Wife of Bath roses online, then it’s possible they might have shipped them to you as bareroot plants, which is not uncommon. You should first soak the roots of these overnight in a bucket of room temperature water, prior to planting day. Then dig your hole as wide as the longest roots and deep enough so you can place the plant on top of a mound of soil, while keeping the bud union no more than an inch below the surface once planted.
Once you have your rose Wife of Bath set in place on top of the mound, spread the roots out in all directions and then back fill the hole halfway to start, using the appropriate soil mix. Use your garden hose to water the loose soil very heavily until it flows all around the roots of the plant like mud. After which, you can finish filling the hole the remainder of the way. Give the soil one last heavy watering and top off any settling that occurs, but do NOT tamp down the soil. This method should make sure that you aren’t getting any air pockets around the roots of the plant.
Taking care of the rose Wife of Bath is not difficult and once again, any prior experience you may have growing roses will definitely come in handy here as well. You will need to make sure that you are providing your roses with enough water and nutrients, while being very careful not to overdo it. For most climates this usually comes down to one deep watering every week. If your climate is very hot or dry, then you will need to check your roses for moisture every couple of days just to be on the safe side.
You also should consider giving your roses a dose of a fertilizer in the early spring when the leaves begin to open. I prefer to use an all-purpose granular brand, rather than a liquid fertilizer because those can easily burn your roses. Like most of David’s creations, this one is also a repeat bloomer, which means it will benefit greatly from additional feeding over the course of the growing season. I will usually give my roses their second feeding as soon as they have finished the first bloom, then a third one later in the summer to encourage some late season flushes. Your rose Wife of Bath should do very well on this schedule also.
You should prune your rose Wife of Bath in the late winter or very early spring when the weather begins to warm but before the leaves have opened up. This makes the job of 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 overlapping lateral canes as these may compete for sun light later on when all the leaves have fully opened. Lastly, give the 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 base of your Wife of Bath roses and get rid of any debris that often collects there over the fall and winter. This includes dead leaves. Throw away all of this material in the trash along with your cuttings. You never want to allow dead matter to fester around your roses as it can quickly turn into a breeding ground for disease and pests. Finish up your pruning by giving your rose Wife of Bath a fresh new layer of mulch to start off the growing season.
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