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Guide to Growing Roses
by Greater Toronto Rose & Garden Society

Feel free to print out our guidelines.  Information about membership is at the bottom.

You CAN Grow Roses

The Greater Toronto Rose & Garden Society's

guide for better roses.


We hope this brief synopsis will help you get started. Our members are passionate about their gardens and are happy to share their knowledge with you.

Rose Varieties

There are amazing new roses and we recommend the guide for easy roses you will find at the Canadian Rose Society site.  It is a free download.

There are thousands of roses to choose from and some are easier to grow and more disease resistant than others. Here are just a few of our members suggestions;

Polyanthas: The Fairy, Red Fairy, Katherina Zeimet

Shrub roses: Bonica, Ballerina, Henry Kelsey, Knock Out, Mordon Sunrise, Morden Blush, Lambert Close, Hope for Humanity, Golden Wings.

Rugosas: Henry Hudson, Jens Munk, Henry Kelsey, John Davis

Austin Roses: L.D. Braithwaite, Mary Rose, Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas, Brother Cadfael, Othello, Winchester Cathedral, Hyde Hall

Hybrid Teas: Savoy Hotel, Double Delight, Touch of Class, Memorial Day, Blue Moon, Julia Child, Fragrant Cloud, Elina, Pristine

Floribundas: Honey Perfume, Iceburg, Sexy Rexy, Tabris, Burning Glow, Intrigue, Margaret Merril, Playboy, Snowdance.

Climbers: New Dawn, Blaze, Swan Lake, Galway Bay, Fourth of July, Dortmund, Golden Showers, Aloha

Miniature: Jeanne Lajoie, Green Ice, Mountie, Amber Glow

Old Roses:  Henry Martin, R. verdiflora, Fantine la tour, Rosa Mundi, Tuscany Superb.

What is ’grafting’?

The canes of the desired rose are spliced onto the rootstock of a hardier rose. For our area the best rootstock is Rosa multiflora. Some roses imported from the US and sold here are not on this rootstock and may not survive our winter. Try to buy Canadian grown roses.

Planting your roses

At the point where the new canes are attached to the rootstock, or where the canes join the roots, is a slightly enlarged area called the bud union. When planting make sure it is at least 3”, 7cm below the soil level.

1. Choose a location with at least 6 hours of direct sun a day.

2. There’s an old saying - “dig a $50 hole for a $10 plant”. Dig a generous hole, larger than the container.

3. Fill the hole with water and let it drain.

4. At the bottom of the hole put a handful of super phosphate fertilizer.

5. Place the rose in the hole so the bud union is at least 3”, 7cm below ground level.

6. Fill the hole with good quality soil like ‘triple mix’, or special rose soil.

7. Water well.

8. Do not fertilize newly planted roses.

Watering Roses

Roses need lots of water to thrive. Water deeply and less frequently, encourages the root to grow deep into the ground. Watering in the morning allows the foliage to dry during the day and helps minimize disease. If you must water when you get home from work in the afternoon, try to water the soil, not the entire plant, so the foliage stays dry. The actual amount of water may depend on the type of soil you have. Sandy soil drains quicker than clay soil, so roses in sandy soil require more watering.

Feeding your Roses

There are as many fertilizing programs as rose growers. Eventually you will find what works best for you, but here is a program to get you started. Always follow the directions on the fertilizer label. Add compost to your garden. It not only provides nutrients for the plants, but provides food for all the soil organisms that help plants take up food.

The simplest way to feed your roses is to apply a granular rose fertilizer such as 6-12-6, every four weeks. Stop feeding after mid August as the rose needs to prepare for winter.


You’ll find many different theories on the best way to prune your roses and if you’d like to come to one of our meetings we’ll be happy to show you how. The following does NOT apply to climbing roses. The main things to remember are:

1. Prune in late spring. When you see Forsythia in bloom is a good indicator.

You will need to see some live growth on the rose to know where to cut.

2. Remove any dead or diseased material.

3. Shape the rose, cutting to the desired height. Make cuts just above an outward facing bud. This encourages the growth outward from the plant.

4. Remove finished flowers to encourage re-blooming.


Due to new pesticide laws in the GTA, the only pesticides and fungicides available are organic ones. Fungicides for blackspot need to be applied early in the season, before you see the problem. Keep your garden free of diseased leaves by removing them. Remember, only 1% of insects varieties in your garden damage plants. Most of the bugs eat other bugs! Try to learn which are good and encourage them in your garden.

 Yes. I can't wait to learn more about roses. Please enrol me as a member!

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Please send this completed form with your cheque or money order payable to Greater Toronto Rose and Garden Society to:

116 Belsize Drive, Toronto, On  M4S 1L7




> Guide to Growing Roses

Last Updated: 2018-06-13