Jim Cunningham’s Enthusiasm for Roses

Article by Dale Andrews and edited by Jim Cunningham

Nowadays, the term ‘heritage roses’ refers to those that were grown before 1900. Roses developed after 1900 are referred to as garden or modern roses. Jim’s presentation followed five main areas:

Location – In some parts of the world, roses need sunlight all day but in Australia six hours a day of morning sunlight is sufficient. The best time for the sunlight is early in the day. Once the outside temperature reaches 30 degrees, it is best to pick any blooms as the heat will ruin them if left on the bush.

Soil Preparation – Preparation of the soil should commence at least six weeks before planting. It helps if garden beds are not more than two metres wide so that the bushes can be reached without damaging other bushes from either side. 

Water – Water is the most important aspect of growing roses. Fertilisers will not reach the roots unless the water has successfully reached them already. Superficial watering is of no use. A good soaking every five to seven days is beneficial. Jim waters his roses between 6.00am – 8.00am. 

Fertilise, Manure and Mulch – That is the correct order for caring for roses. The Rose Society recommends Sudden Impact for Roses. Jim’s tip for remembering when to fertilise roses is to: fertilise in the months that have an ‘r’ in their spelling, so not in the winter months. Manure is helpful but not fresh poultry manure. Mulch is beneficial and Jim uses lucerne about 10cm deep.

Spray – It is of course the grower’s choice which sprays, if any, to use. Spraying is a preventative measure and used the analogy of people having flu injections at the beginning of winter. Prevention is always better than cure.