Stan V. (Stan the Roseman) Griep American Rose Society Certified Consulting Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District Photograph Stan V. (Stan the Roseman) Griep
We really cannot begin to know how far apart to plant our rosebushes without doing some research on the rosebush we are thinking about planting in our rose beds. We need to find as much information as possible on not just the overall growth habit of the rosebushes we are considering planting in our rose beds or gardens, but also the growth habit that is typical of them in our particular area.
The growth habit of a particular rosebush in say, California, will typically be very different from the same rosebush’s growth habit in Colorado or Michigan. I highly recommend contacting a local Rose Society or local American Rose Society Certified Consulting Rosarian to obtain priceless information of this sort. Overcrowding of rosebushes can lead to major problems with various diseases, fungal and others. Keeping our rosebushes spaced well allows for good air movement through and around the rosebushes, thus helping keep the diseases at bay. The good oxygen movement also increases the overall health and performance of the rosebushes.
When planting Hybrid Tea rosebushes in my area (Northern Colorado/Rocky Mountain Region), I like to keep at least two feet between each rosebush planting hole. With the typical upright or tall habit, the two-foot spacing will usually accommodate their spread or width adequately.
With Grandiflora and Floribunda rosebushes, I read all the information I can to determine their growth habit as to spread or width of the rosebush I'm considering. Then plant these rosebushes two feet apart from the point of what I calculate as being their outward spread points.
Where I plant the Hybrid Tea roses two feet apart from the edges of their planting holes, I plant the Grandiflora and Floribunda rosebushes two feet apart from their anticipated spread of growth points. For example, a rosebush 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 rosebush that I want to plant has the same growth habit, I will measure over 18 inches plus two feet from the center of that planting.
You can bring the two foot measurement closer by around 2 or 3 inches if you choose. Just remember that those bushes will need some shaping. Pruning 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 of those diseases.
Climbing rosebushes 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 rosebushes apply to miniature/mini-flora rosebushes as well. In most cases the term “mini” refers to the size of the bloom and not necessarily the size of the rosebush. I have some mini roses in my rose beds that need just as much spread room as any of my Floribunda rosebushes.
Shrub rosebushes spacing will typically vary considerably. 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. These rosebushes 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 rosebushes that have a growth habit much like a Hybrid Tea rose yet do not get quite as tall but have a bit more spread. When considering the Knock Out rosebushes, again find out the growth habit of the ones you wish to plant and space them per the spread and spacing rules above. These rosebushes 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 rosebushes as to their height. Planting taller rosebushes at what will be the back of the area, then medium height bushes followed by the shorter rosebushes 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 of colors as well as the wonderful fragrance.
I close this article by stressing the extreme importance of getting all the information possible for the rosebushes you consider as to their growth habits for your area. This preliminary research will truly be invaluable to your rose bed or garden growing into all it can be. Enjoy your roses!
Stan V Griep is a Colorado Native Rosarian, and Members of the American Rose Society, Loveland Rose Society, & Denver Rose Society, and an Honorary Member of the Rose Society of South Australia. He also serves as Webmaster: The Colorado Rosarian Website.