By Stan V. Griep
American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
Overcrowding of rose bushes can lead to major problems with various diseases, fungal and others. Keeping our rose bushes spaced well allows for good oxygen movement through and around the rose bushes, thus helping keep the diseases at bay. The good oxygen movement also increases the overall health and performance of the rose bushes.
Proper Spacing of Roses Depends on Where You Live
We really cannot begin to know how far apart to plant our rose bushes without doing some research on them. We need to find as much information as possible on not just the overall growth habit of the rose bushes we are considering planting in our rose beds or gardens, also the growth habit that is typical of them in our particular area. The growth habit of a particular rose bush in say California will typically be very different from the same rose bush’s growth habit in Colorado or Michigan.
I highly recommend contacting a local Rose Society or local American Rose Society Consulting Master Rosarian to obtain priceless information of this sort.
General Rose Bush Spacing
When planting Hybrid Tea rose bushes, I like to keep at least 2 feet between each rose bush planting hole. With their more upright or tall habit, the two foot spacing will usually accommodate their spread or width adequately.
With Grandiflora and Floribunda rose bushes, I read all the information I can to determine their growth habit as to spread or width. Then plant these rose bushes two feet apart from the point of what I calculate as being their outward spread points. Where the Hybrid Tea roses are planted basically two feet apart
- For example, a rose bush being considered has a three foot total spread (width) according to available information, from the center of the bush I calculate that spread being approximately 18 inches in each direction from center of the bush. Thus, if the next rose bush that I want to plant has the same growth habit, I will measure over 18 inches plus two feet for center of that planting. You can bring the two foot measurement closer by around 2 or 3 inches if you choose to.
Just remember that those bushes will need some shaping and pruning that allows them to grow closely to one another, yet not crowding the foliage in a way that will lead to problems with diseases and the spreading thereof.
Climbing rose bushes can be very hard to figure out, so I recommend giving them lots of room — perhaps even a bit beyond their typically noted growth habits.
The same rules that I apply to the Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras and Floribunda rose bushes apply to miniature/mini-flora rose bushes as well. In most cases, the term “mini” refers to the size of the bloom and not necessarily the size of the rose bush. I have some mini roses in my rose beds that need just as much spread room as any of my Floribunda rose bushes.
Shrub rose bushes will vary a lot typically. Some of my David Austin shrub roses really need their room, as they will have a spread distance of 4 to 5 feet. These do look exceptionally beautiful when allowed to grow together and form a glorious wall of beautiful blooms and foliage. As long as they are kept thinned out enough to allow some good oxygen movement, such closeness will work well. Some of the shrub roses also have a classification of short or medium height climbers, and these rose bushes work nicely with a decorative trellis behind them and spaced out such that they do not touch but extend their long canes close to one another.
There are some shrub rose bushes that have a growth habit much like a Hybrid Tea rose yet do not get quite as tall but have a bit more spread. With the Knock Out rose bushes, find out the growth habit of the ones you wish to plant and space them per the spread and spacing rules above. These rose bushes do love to spread out and will fill in their spots in the rose bed or garden very well. Planting them in odd numbered cluster plantings is an old rule of thumb that works very nicely, such as groups of 3, 5 or 7 etc…
Another thing to keep in mind when laying out your rose bed or garden is the growth habit of the rose bushes as to their height. Planting taller rose bushes at what will be the back of the area, then medium height bushes followed by the shorter rose bushes makes for a nice effect. Also, leave yourself room to move around the bushes for doing shaping pruning, deadheading and spraying as needed. Not to mention cutting some of those beautiful blooms to take inside and enjoy a beautiful bouquet.
I close this article by stressing the extreme importance of getting all the information possible for the rose bushes being considered as to their growth habits for your area. This preliminary research will truly be invaluable to your rose bed or garden being all it can be.