How to Care for Antique Roses


Rose breeders introduced the first hybrid tea rose in 1867. All classes of roses bred prior to that date are now considered old, or antique, roses. Varieties of antique roses include bush roses, ground cover roses and climbers. In general, antique roses are hardier than hybrid tea roses, less fussy about their growing conditions and more fragrant.

Step 1

Plant antique roses in well-drained soil with a pH reading of 5 to 8. Have the soil tested at your local county extension office or state agriculture department. Such testing usually is either free or very inexpensive. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, ask the person who helped you with the testing to recommend a way to amend it.

Step 2

Plant antique roses where they'll get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day.

Step 3

Dig a hole for each rose bush that is just big enough to accommodate its root ball--no bigger, so the roots will immediately start to grow into the surrounding soil.

Step 4

Fill the holes with water and put a teaspoon of liquid vitamin B1 into each hole. Let the water drain out before proceeding.

Step 5

Put each rose into its hole and cover the root ball up with soil under, around and over it. Be sure to put at least 1 inch of soil over the top of the root ball.

Step 6

After the roses are planted, put a layer of compost 2 to 3 inches thick around the roots of each one and then add 2 inches of mulch on top of the compost.

Step 7

Water your newly planted roses every 5 to 7 days, soaking them thoroughly. Once established, antique roses don't need much extra irrigation, but it takes 2-3 years for them to reach that point.

Step 8

Fertilize the roses with commercial fertilizer, following the instructions on the packaging about how to mix and apply the fertilizer and how often to reapply it. Alternatively, stir a generous dose of composted manure into the soil around the roses in the spring and again in the summer. Stop fertilizing the roses at least 6 weeks before the first expected frost date.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some antique roses are prone to black spot (a fungal infection), and most can suffer from attacks by aphids, thrips and beetles. Treat black spot by stripping off and burning affected leaves. Treat insect infestations by spraying the bugs with insecticidal soaps, which you can buy at nurseries and some home improvement stores.

Things You'll Need

  • Antique rose bushes
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Mulch
  • Liquid Vitamin B1
  • Fertilizer


  • Old Roses; Rosa; Sunset's Western Garden Book, 1996
  • Antique Rose Care Guide; Linda's Antique Roses
Keywords: antique roses, old roses, rose care

About this Author

Cheyenne Cartwright has worked in publishing for more than 25 years. She has served as an editor for several large nonprofit institutions, and her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including "Professional Bull Rider Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Oklahoma Christian University and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Tulsa.