How to prune carpet roses?

How to Prune Carpet Roses

Carpet roses, also known as groundcover roses, feature vigorous canes that grow nearly prostrate and only have slight upward growth or mounding. Some cultivars of carpet rose have an everblooming habit, while others bloom only in spring. Like other types of roses, carpet roses require pruning to maintain a tidy form. However, carpet rose pruning does not need to be as exact and methodical as the pruning of other types of roses.

Step 1

Shear off or cut back the carpet rose in late fall after growth has stopped or in early spring before growth resumes. Simply cut the rose back so that it is about a foot tall or cut off the top two-thirds of the plant using a hedge trimmer.

Step 2

Trim off any especially vigorous or wild-looking stems as they appear throughout the growing season. Cut the vigorous shoot back to a main stem.

Step 3

Trim the entire plant lightly to maintain a tidy form throughout the growing season, if desired.

Step 4

Remove any dead, diseased or damaged stems as they appear.

Step 5

Avoid deadheading, or removing spent flowers, from the carpet roses unless desired. These cultivars do not generally require deadheading.

How to grow ground cover roses

Backfill and firm in place with your heel and water in well.

Propagating ground cover roses

As ground cover roses sprawl across the soil, they may root as they grow. It tends to be the relatives of Rosa wichuraiana that behave in this way. The easiest way to propagate them is to look for a rooted stem in spring or autumn and cut the stem free of the parent plant, dig up the new roots and pot on.

To encourage stems to root, pin a section of stem to the ground and cover it with soil.

Rose leaves exhibiting powdery mildew

Ground cover roses: problem solving

Roses should not be planted in the ground were another rose previously lived. Rose replant disease is a little understood problem, but plants often struggle to thrive.

As with all other roses, ground cover roses can be prone to black spot, aphids, dieback and powdery mildew. However, good garden hygiene will reduce the risk of infection. Clear up fallen leaves and prune with clean secateurs.

As many ground cover roses are modern varieties, a large number will display a resistance to common rose problems.


Shrubby types require very little, if any, pruning. Prune out dead, diseased and damaged wood in March. Some gardeners simply run a pair of garden shears over the plant after flowering.

For the rambling types, which throw out stems that spread metres, pruning may be required after flowering. Reduce the length of stems by cutting just above an upward-facing bud. This will keep the plants in their allotted space.

Where space is not an issue you can get away without pruning regularly.

Choosing roses for the garden

Within the Rosa genus there are hundreds of species and thousands of cultivars. It’s easy to get confused by all the terms. To make life easier visit a rose garden, admire the scents and jot down which roses you favoured. Ordering roses without seeing them can be tricky.

Pale-lemon/cream blooms of rose ‘Flower Carpet Sunshine’

Ground cover roses to try

  • Rosa Flower Carpet – this range of roses is disease-resistant and they flower from early summer until autumn. Cope well in drought conditions. There are different types of Flower Carpet but pink is the original. Spread up to 1m
  • Rosa ‘Grouse’ – single, pure-white flowers. Red hips. A vigorous rose that offers disease-resistance. Spread 3m. Scented flowers all summer
  • Rosa ‘Worcestershire’ – bright yellow, semi-double blooms. Flower from June to September. Lies tight to the ground. Spread 1m
  • Rosa ‘Nozomi’ – pearly pink flowers all summer. Ideal for a large container. Spread 120cm
  • Rosa ‘Surrey’ – fragrant, double rose pink flowers all summer. Spread of 120cm


Roses by colour

  • 10 red roses to grow
  • Orange roses to grow
  • Yellow roses to grow
  • Pink roses to grow
  • Purple roses to grow

New release for New Zealand – available from October 2015 at your nearest garden centre.

Flower Carpet® Sunset is a bright tangerine coloured groundcover rose, one of the series of Flower Carpet groundcover roses first introduced in 1992 by Anthony Tesselaar International. Bred by Noack Rosen, the German hybridiser known for their early commitment to disease-resistant hybrids, Flower Carpet Sunset shares the impressive levels of disease resistance of its Flower Carpet cousins.

Flower Carpet Sunset is a top-performing groundcover rose that blooms in profusion from late Spring through Autumn and, like its predecessors, exhibits excellent natural disease-resistance in the landscape.

Flower Carpet Sunset has tangerine coloured single flowers, which fade over time to a light coral shade. Throughout the bloom season, Flower Carpet Sunset continues to look fresh with glossy green leaves unmarred by spent blossoms as its petals fall cleanly away after flowers have peaked.

Simple to grow and easy to maintain, without any spraying or even fancy pruning. All you need is a pair of garden shears and then cut back, any-way-which-way, to 1/3rd of the bush size in late winter/early spring and you’re done. No guessing, No worrying, No Kidding.

Key Features

  • Masses of tangerine coloured blooms and glossy green foliage.
  • Attractive bush shape and appearance.
  • Bright, vivid presence in the landscape or garden.
  • Easy-care and disease-resistance.

Suggested Uses
Flower beds, mass plantings, large containers, landscapes, hanging baskets, and as tree roses. A perfect commercial landscaping plant for low-maintenance colour.

Growth Habit
Bushes are low, dense and compact.

Plant Size
As a mature plant, Flower Carpet® Sunset grows to 80cm high and 80cm wide.

Flower Size
Medium sized (about 50-75mm across).

Plant 2-3 per square metre, for ground cover. Plant 80cm apart to establish boundaries. Can be planted anytime during Spring, Summer or Autumn.

Flower Carpet roses will thrive in all areas.

Flowering Period
Flowering from late Spring and continues to late autumn.

Number Of Flowers
In full sun, a well-fed, well-watered, mature bush can produce up to 2,000 flowers per season. When mature, bears flowers in clusters up to eight-inches across, with each having up to 20-30 blossoms on average.

Flower Colour
Tangerine coloured single flowers, fading to coral.

Not fragrant.

Dark glossy green, medium sized leaves.

No fancy pruning needed. Cut back by 2/3rds annually in late winter or early spring. Trim to shape anytime of year, if desired. The bush is self-cleaning with few rose hips, no dead-heading required, petals fall away cleanly.

Light Needs
For best bloom, grow in full sun. Grows well in partial shade (4-5 hours of sun per day) with reduced blooms. In areas of intense heat and sun, semi-shade/filtered light.

Soil Needs
Can thrive in a variety of soil conditions. Performs best in well-drained friable garden soil with added organic matter.

Water Needs
When planting in the landscape, water in well particularly during hot conditions and continue to water regularly until the plant is established. Flower Carpet roses are very tolerant of dry conditions once established.

For maximum flowering and performance, feed with a balanced (15:5.2:10) controlled release rose fertiliser in early spring and again in late summer. For established landscape plants apply 1 to 2 handfuls around the base of the plant and incorporate into the soil by gentle surface cultivation.

Disease Tolerance
Very tolerant of common rose diseases such as black spot and mildew. It does not require routine chemical spraying in the landscape, apply only if needed.

Pest Issues
Treat for insect pests only as needed.

Carpet roses are a beautiful alternative for a garden shrub ground cover. As they say a rose by any other name is still a rose…

That certainly is a truism when you mention the Flower Carpet Series. Developed by rose breeder Dr. Werner Noack in 1988, the easy-to-care for carpet roses now come in nine different colors. Like the eight others in the series, the Amber blooms profusely, is disease resistant and after 2 to 3 years of growth, can give you 1000+ blooms. These shrubby ground cover roses have incredible blooming power (they bloom in clusters). They rest for a couple of weeks in between blooming and well worth the wait. They are disease resistant (powdery mildew and black spot), have rich green foliage and are reasonably fast growing. They are a gardeners dream come true!

From direct experience I can tell you that the leaves remain dark green, leathery and shiny. Although a few of the tiny green worms have called the underside of the leaves home, I continue to rub them off with my fingers.

Planting Flower Carpet Roses

Make sure that the hole is larger than the inside of the container/pot that the rose came in.
Make sure that you have amended the soil with organic matter, (two parts organic/soil to one part peat) peat moss, a little bit of sand (a handful) for drainage.
Make sure that you put at least 8″ to 10″ of the amended mixture into the hole before you set in the rose.
I also add a hand full of bone meal to the hole before I set the rose.
Make sure that the bud union (the nub) of the rose is slightly below ground level. In my zone 3, I set mine 3 1/2″ below ground level.
As you fill in the sides with the rest of the amended soil, press down firmly to make sure there are no air pockets and water as you go along.
When at ground level, press down firmly. Some gardeners make a circle well around the shrub, about 3″ away from the main stem. This is for watering. Make sure that you keep the rose well-watered.
Even though they do not require deadheading, I still snip off the spent blooms to keep the shrub looking tidy. These bushes grow to an average of 2 feet (60cm), however mine have grown to almost 4 feet tall. They can spread between 4 to 6 feet (1.2-1.8m). If your planting them in a flowerbed garden, plant about 3 to 4 feet apart to allow for good spreading. They also grow great in containers. The above planting information works for me. Other gardeners may do different. So far I am very successful, no matter what variety I decide to plant.

Care for Flower Carpet Roses

Water regularly until established.
Bushes are dry tolerant once established, however they still need the regular weekly watering.
Feed only in spring. Fall feeding produces more foliage and makes it harder for the plant to survive the cold.
Add organic matter to help hold in the water and to give the extra nutrition. I also add a thin layer of shredded bark mulch at the base (not too close to the main stem). This helps hold in the moisture.
Make sure the drainage is good. The plant will rot if it sits in water.
Pruning is not required, however if you want your shrubs a certain shape, then prune as desired.
Plant in full sun for the most blooms. It will tolerate some shade but you might get less blooms. It takes about 2 weeks in between bloom time for mine.

Temperature Zones

If you are trying to grow this variety in a Zone lower than Zone 5, you must protect the plant for the winter. The Flower Carpet Rose is recommended for Zone 5 and in a Zone 5a (here in Chicago) covering of leaves is sufficient. Otherwise plant deeper and cover well for the winter. If aphids or the tiny green worms attack, simply spray with insecticidal soap or do what I do…pick off with your fingers or wash them off with a hose sprayer. Remember to feed every spring (Osmocote 14-14-14).
There are other carpet roses on the market such as the Little White Lies. No fragrance, but repeat single petal white blooms. The Rugosa rose can be up to a Zone 3 hardy ground cover. I was told that if you prune them within 4 inches of the ground, they will sucker to make a flowering ground cover. The pink Dick Balfour, as pictured below, is a repeat bloomer. It has a slight fragrance, is compact and has tight foliage. Can be planted in the ground or in pots.

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When Roses Go Dormant

By: Kristen SmithJanuary 11th, 2013

Why do Roses go Dormant?

Dormancy is an essential part of the life cycle of a rose. It is part of the natural cycle whereby the rose drops any foliage that could be damaged by freezing temperatures. In a way, the plant begins to create its own antifreeze. The cell sap begins to thicken, helping to prevent the stems from freezing during the cold winter months. The rose itself goes into an almost hibernation like state where its metabolic systems slow and the nutrients are reserved deep within the core of the rose to aid in bud formation.

You will know when you rose is going dormant when you notice the leaves beginning to yellow and fall to the ground. The foliage of some rose cultivars will turn brilliant red or burgundy in color. Most shrub roses will go completely dormant depending on what part of the country you are in. In the deep South, much of the foliage may be retained over the winter months. You can aid the rose in preparation for going into dormancy by not fertilizing beginning in late summer and stop supplemental irrigation in late summer/early fall. Certain cultivars of roses will produce large ornamental clusters of hips that ripen into a range of bright colors in the fall. Sometimes they will persist into the winter. The hips are basically the fruit of the rose which houses the seeds.

Large, bright orange hips of the climbing rose Winners Circle™

What do I do While my Rose is Dormant?

In general – nothing! This is the time of the year to let them just be. In the coldest parts of the country, you may want to mulch heavily around the base of the plant depending on how cold hardy the rose is. As much as possible, do your research before purchasing a new rose. If you want to see you rose again after the winter, purchase a rose that is rated hardy to your zone. You don’t need to water or fertilize while the rose is in its dormant state. Hopefully, you’ve taken good care of the rose during last season. The best way for a rose to make it though winter is if it went into dormancy a strong and healthy plant. The more stressed the rose bush was going into dormancy, the more damage you may expect it to experience over the winter.

Signs of Life – What to plan for in Early Spring

Sometime in early spring, you will begin to see signs of new life as the leaf buds begin to swell. Early spring is the best time to prune your roses before they leaf out. Trim out any dead canes that may be present and in general trim the entire bush back by two-thirds to promote an intense first flush of blooms in late spring.

New Plant Coordinator at Star® Roses and Plants

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