The reward of planting and caring for old roses culminates in the heady scent from multitudes of fragrant blooms on a summer's day. Old roses, or "heirloom roses," took center stage before the debut of the tea rose in 1867. Treasures in the rose bed, these delightful darlings are available as shrubs, ramblers or climbers, and each one offers the gardener a glimpse into the rose garden of yesteryear. Follow time-tested techniques for success when growing old roses.
Prepare the garden for your rose. Good soil is essential, so take a sample to your local extension office for testing. Roses thrive in well-drained soil with a pH of 6.5. If your soil's pH level is lower than 5 or higher than 8, the extension office can recommend additives to balance the pH.
Dig a hole at least 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep and fill it with water, allowing it to drain into the ground before filling the bottom half of the hole with organic mulch, mixed with the removed soil.
Position the rose in the hole, aligning the crown approximately one-half inch above the soil. Fill in around the plant with the mixture of mulch and soil and add water as you go to allow the soil to settle in around the roots, eliminating air pockets.
Mulch around the top of your newly planted heirloom rose and spray it with insecticidal rose spray. Water it well, saturating the soil, but don't let the plant sit in standing water.
Fertilize your rose with a commercial fertilizer made especially for roses. Apply as directed on the package and water the rose thoroughly.
Monitor your heirloom rose for signs of insect infestation. Like most roses, old roses may suffer from aphid infestations as well as attacks by beetles and grasshoppers. Apply insecticidal rose spray at the first indication of a pest infiltration.
Trim away dead canes annually after the new growth appears. Some of the old canes may not produce new stems. Cut them off with sharp pruning shears just above crown level.