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February 4, 2024

Light Pink Shropshire Lad David Austin Rose

Despite their relative hardiness, some care is still needed for English or Austin Roses.

 We guide you through the following care aspects:

David Austin Rose Hardiness 

These roses have been bred since 1961. While the founder and inspiration for Austin Roses passed away in 2018, the work and ethos he created live on. Apart from blending the best of old and modern roses, he had a strong focus and making plants that are not only a delight to behold but are easy to maintain. This is something they have continuously improved on over the years.  

While there are a few other roses that can claim to be hardier, David Austin Roses require only minimal care and maintenance. We will go into more detail further down on the best way to prepare, treat, and care for your roses.

David Austin Rose Sun Requirements

The terms English Rose or David Austin Roses cover a broad spectrum of varieties or hybrids. Not all behave in the same manner. While the general rule of 6 to 8 hours of full sun works for most English or Austin roses, several varieties can perform well with 2 or 3 hours of sun. Select the variety and position with this in mind.

Where to Plant David Austin Rose

These roses are versatile and can planted almost anywhere. Consider the size, growth habits, and sun requirements before deciding on the ideal area. While most are medium-sized shrubs, others grow a bit taller while others make great climbers. They are also a fantastic option for pots. Some can handle windy conditions if that is a concern. For more detailed information on Planting David Austin Roses, you can read our feature post.

Ideal Soil for David Austin Rose 

Austin roses need well-draining soil that is rich in organic material. The ideal pH is 6.5. When planting in pots, ensure you refresh the soil every 2 to 3 years as the nutrients decrease over time.

Watering David Austin Rose  

Let the seasons and weather conditions guide you. In the winter months, it is not necessary to water frequently. If it has been very dry, water every week or two. If you have had lots of rain, it is obviously not necessary to water.

In the warmer months, water 2 to 3 times a week. Always give a generous amount of water, not a mere splash. Try to water the base of the plant and avoid wetting the foliage.

Newly planted roses require regular watering. Roses in pots will also need to be watered more regularly.

You can also look at the plant to give you an indication of its needs. A droopy wilting rose is normally an indication that it is thirsty.

David Austin Rose Temperature and Humidity

Most hybrids can handle a vast range of temperatures while some are a tad more sensitive to cold or extreme heat. The key is to select the correct variety from the many English or David Austin Roses available.

Also, note that extreme humidity may make the plant more prone to disease or pests so watch out for that.

Fertilizing David Austin Rose

Feeding your roses is a critical part of their care and something many people get wrong. Too much love and care is worse than some neglect.

The best bet is to feed your English or Austin Roses twice a year. The first feed should be when the temperatures warm up and the growing season starts and the second is after the first flush of blooms is complete.

There are a range of options available including those from David Austin themselves. Any quality fertilizer will help. They are often identified by the nutrient balance – NPK with N being Nitrogen, P - Phosphorus, and K - Potassium. They also need other minerals such as Sulfur, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, Copper, Boron, Iron, and Manganese.

Most rose-specific fertilizers will offer the perfect ratio to ensure healthy growth and foliage as well as impressive flowering. You get liquid and granular fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are safe, easy to use, and give nutrients to the plants for an extended period. They are also eco-friendly. Fertilizers are there to complement, not replace rich compost and manure in the soil.

Cease fertilizing a month or two before the first frost is expected.

Pruning Your David Austin Rose

Pruning causes many people stress but there is no reason for this. It is a simple process. One of the main goals is to maintain the shape of the shrub. This is best done when they are dormant.  You also want to remove any dead or damaged parts of the plant as they occur.

Always use sharp secateurs that are sterile.

In the dormant period, the cooler months, you can prune an established rose down by half. This will allow it to grow back vigorously to deliver another season of spectacular blooms. Again, remove any damaged or dying stems or weak stems that will not be able to hold a bloom. This allows more light and air in and will enhance future growth and encourage flowering.

David Austin Rose Pests and How to Treat Them

These roses have been bred to be hardy but that does not make them immune to pests. If other plants have pests they could well spread to your rose.

The first point to note is that a strong and healthy plant will shrug off pests. That is not to say you can ignore the threat of pests. The main point is to inspect your roses as you admire them. Look out for bugs and pests. If you do notice them or treat them, keep a very close eye on them to ensure the issues are not getting out of hand.

Systemic insecticides work but they will also kill the beneficial insects that prey on these bugs so try to avoid them. Companion planting is another great idea to reduce the risk of bugs and create an ecosystem that looks after itself without the need for chemicals.

Here are a few you might encounter:

  • Aphids

These tiny sap-sucking creatures often spread from other plants. Nature often addresses the issues provided it is not too severe. Another good first step is to hit the affected areas with a hard jet of water. If this does not work, use neem oil or insecticide.  


  • Thrips

Thrips are also very small and often hard to detect if there is not a mass of them. They gather in the buds at the base of the petals, and this makes them a challenge to detect. Remove and safely discard all noticeably infected blooms. Deadheading spent blooms also helps. Ensure there are no weeds near your rose to help reduce the risk. If all else fails, use Pyrethrins.

  • Greenfly

In their early stages, these are easy to spot and remove by hand. Again, natural friendly insects love them so normally keep the problem under control. As with the above bugs, a blast of water often helps.

There are many effective treatments available. Try to find an organic solution if possible.

David Austin Rose Diseases and How to Treat Them

The three most common diseases you might encounter are:

  • Black Spot

This dreaded issue is easy to identify and appears as the name suggests. It thrives in wet or humid conditions where there is poor air circulation. It is, however, easy to deal with. Cut away all infected parts of the plant and prune back severely if the problem is extreme. You can apply lime-sulfur spray every week or two to prevent new infections.

  • Powdery mildew

The powdery white fungus is quite easy to spot and can be treated in the same way as black spot. If the problem persists, other natural spays can be applied.

  • Rust

Rust is a common issue in certain conditions but no major cause for concern. Simply remove the infected parts of the rose bush and use a lime-sulfur spray if the problem persists. You may need to reapply every week or two.


David Austin Roses, or English Roses, are a pleasure in the garden. The great thing is that they need minimal care. If you follow the basic guidelines above you will be rewarded with healthy rose bushes that bloom prolifically.

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