Flora | How to Care for China Roses (2024)

Embark on a journey to the enchanting world of China Roses, where timeless elegance meets exquisite floral beauty. Set amidst the lush landscapes of South West China, the captivating Bengal Rose, also known as the China Rose, invites us to discover its rich heritage and irresistible charm.

Join us on this floral adventure as we explore the origins, traits, and enigmas of these mesmerizing flowers that have graced gardens for generations.


Roses do not grow well in shady positions, and China roses particularly hate shade! They prefer to bask in a sunny spot, so aim for 4 hours of sunlight daily in the growing season (spring-fall); any more is a bonus!


From spring to fall, roses need to be watered, but avoid falling into the trap of watering too little and too often. Roses enjoy a deep watering (about a watering can full) once a week. The soil should be moist to a depth of 15-20 inches, and water at the base of the rose for the best results.

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It's a good idea to water roses first thing in the morning. This way, any water on the leaves can dry off throughout the day. If the leaves stay wet and cold overnight, fungus and disease can take hold.


When planting China roses, choosing a protected location with plenty of sunlight is essential. These roses are delicate and can be easily damaged by temperatures below 32℉, so it's best to transplant them to a more sheltered area for the winter or cover them with horticultural fleece or straw.

Just like any other plant, heat can also impact the health of roses. If the leaves or flowers are turning brown and becoming brittle, moving the rose to a more sheltered spot is a good idea. And if your rose isn't thriving, it may benefit from being transplanted to a sunnier location.


China roses are known for their stunning and sizable flowers, but in humid conditions, they may "ball." This happens when rain and moisture cause the petals to stick together, preventing the bud from fully opening. While it won't harm the plant, if you notice a single bloom balling, it's best to remove it.


If you want to grow roses, preparing the soil properly is essential. First, dig a hole twice as big as the pot or bare root. Make sure it's filled with good-quality compost. Gardeners have found that adding mycorrhizal fungi to the roots or planting holes can also help. These fungi help the plant absorb water more efficiently, giving your rose the best chance of thriving.

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Have you ever heard the old wives' tale that says you can't plant new roses where roses were once planted? There is some truth to it, but it's not impossible to fix.

After an extended period, the soil where the old rose was planted loses its nutrients and goodness, making it difficult for new roses to grow. But don't worry; there's an easy solution.

Just dig a new hole and add some fresh soil or compost to provide the new rose with the necessary nutrients for a successful start.


For better results, it's recommended to use a slow-release granular rose feed instead of liquid feeds. This is because granular feeds provide long-term benefits.

Think of a granular feed as a bowl of oats and a liquid feed as a chocolate bar. While both have their place and are tasty, we all know what will give you more energy in the long run, and your rose will thank you for it.

If you have repeat-flowering roses, fertilize them in March and again in June after the first flush of flowers. For once-flowering roses, only one feed in March is needed. Sprinkle a handful of rose feed around the base, and you're done! It's that easy.

Liquid feed can be watered in every 2 weeks during the flowering season to encourage more blooms.


China roses are best grown in the ground but can be grown in pots successfully - it just can take a little more work. Rose roots need space to spread out, so if planting in a pot, ensure it is 18-21 inches deep and wide.

Plant in a mixture of multipurpose and repotting compost, although specialist rose compost will work just as well!

As with all plants grown in pots, they require a little extra care. Ensure they do not dry out, and replenish the soil every 2-3 years for the best results! The best time to do this is during the dormant season, so early spring or late fall is probably the best, as the rose should be either dormant or preparing for dormancy.

When preparing for dormancy, the rose is put through the least stress and is ready for repotting.


China roses only require a little pruning. Their growth can look bare and twiggy, which is how they like to be kept. Tidy the rose by cutting about an inch off each stem, and remove any dead, diseased, or damaged stems.

Remove as much of the foliage as well, as this will ensure that if any hidden pests or diseases are lurking, they will not transfer to the next growing season.

Pruning usually occurs in late winter to early spring, so January-March is the best time.

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China roses, also known as Bengal roses, were first introduced in 1792 and have since captivated gardeners worldwide with their stunning red and crimson hues. They can look a little bare, but no fear this is just the way they are!


Propagation can be hit or miss but always worth a try!

First of all, prepare your pot. Use potting compost with vermiculite or perlite with a breakdown of 75% compost to 25% perlite/vermiculite.

Choose a healthy stem with 3-5 leaves that is about 5-10 inches long and cut at a 45-degree angle using clean tools - if the stem has more leaves than this, remove them on the lower part of the stem leaving 3-5 at the top of the stem and remove all flowers and hips.

At the bottom of the stem, make 3 snips upwards of an inch long and dip the base in a rooting hormone (this step is not required but yields the best results).

Now you can plant the stem in your pot, water, and cover it with a clear plastic bag to create a greenhouse. Keep your cutting in a warm and sheltered spot, and don't let it dry out. Soon roots will form, and once the risk of frost has passed, it can be planted outside!


To help you identify potential issues, here are some of the most prevalent pests and diseases that may affect your China rose:

Black Spot -This is a widespread problem and is an airborne fungus that spreads from garden to garden and LOVES humid conditions. The black spot is exactly as it sounds - dark purple or even yellow patches that cover the leaves, making the leaves of the rose look sad and unhealthy. At the first sign of the blackspot, remove the affected leaves and spray with neem oil.

Rust- This airborne fungus spreads from plant to plant and loves humidity. It appears on leaves as little orange powdery circles that darken over time. Rust can kill a plant easily so remove the affected leaves straight away and spray with neem oil.

Powdery Mildew- Fear not; this is not an insect or mold invading. Powdery mildew is a white coating/fungus, indicating that the rose lacks sufficient air circulation or water. This is common with young roses as the roots cannot take up enough water. Remove the infected leaves, keep the rose well watered, and/or increase air circulation.

Aphids, Thrips, and Spider Mites

Aphids or greenfly are very common, especially if the winter has been mild. These small, clear green insects feed on the juicy sap of the buds. If you notice newly formed buds wilting and looking dehydrated, you may have an aphid infestation.

Thrips, also known as Thunder Bugs, can be a problem during the summer. They look like black dots and love to feast on fresh rose buds. You may have a thrip infestation if you notice distorted buds with black edges.

Spider mites are another pest that can cause damage to your plants. They are difficult to spot, but you may notice webbing on the plant and unusual golden-colored leaves. These pests gorge on leaves and buds, leaving a trail of destruction.

Looking for a natural solution to pesky garden invaders? Neem oil is your go-to! It's effective at disrupting pests' life cycles and keeping your plants safe. Plus, if you want to take your eco-friendly approach up a notch, try inviting ladybugs and lacewings to your garden - these helpful predators love snacking on aphids, mites, and other pests, and will help keep your garden's ecosystem balanced and healthy.

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China roses are not toxic; rose hips can be used in many recipes, such as rosehip oil, rosehip jam, cakes, and perfume. Just watch out for the thorns when picking them!

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Flora | How to Care for China Roses (2024)
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