Indian Handbook of
Gardening (1840) pp. 196-201
By G. T. Frederic S. Barlow Speede
In Europe they number from a thousand to fifteen hundred varieties; of the rose in India, the cultivated sorts are limited to the Madras rose, the rose Edward, the sweet scented Bussorah rose, (red and white) the Persian rose, the sweet briar, the many‑flowered rose, (a climber,) the China rose, (red and damask,) and the dog rose (growing wild); the moss rose may be found to exist, but has not, it is believed, been yet known to blossom in India.
Propagation. All kinds may be multiplied by seed, layers, cuttings, suckers, or grafts, almost indiscriminately. The seed of the rose contained in the hip requires a very long time to germinate; they should be sown moderately thick, in a soft moist soil composed of vegetable mould and sand, and kept moist in a shady situation. Layering is the easiest and most certain mode of propagating this most beautiful shrub, and these should be put down at the commencement of the rains; the layers must be slit lengthways up the centre of the branch to facilitate the formation of root fibres; they take about two months to root, during which any blossom buds that appear must be carefully rubbed off; when separated from the stools they should be planted out in a nursery, where however they must not be allowed to blossom. The roots that branch out and throw up shoots may be divided or cut off from the main root, or even an eye thus taken of may be made to produce a good plant. Suckers, when they have pushed through the soil, may be taken up by digging down to, and gently detaching them from, the roots. Grafting, or budding is used for the more delicate kinds, and for the sweet briar, and by the curious, may be employed to produce two or more varieties on one stem, the best stocks being obtained from the China, or the dog rose.
Soil, &c. Any good garden soil suits the rose.
Culture. The Rose Edward, the Madras and the Bussorah rose should be planted out in a rich, but not too light soil, at the close of the rains; the branches should be cut down to not more than a foot in length, removing at the same time all old and decayed wood; the roots should then be laid open, cleaned and pruned, and allowed to remain open until blossom buds begin to appear at the end of the first shoots; the hole must then be filled with good strong stable manure, and slightly earthed over about a month after, a basket of stable dung with the litter should be heaped up round the stems, and bricks or turf placed over it, to take off the unsightly appearance; while flowering, too, it will be well to water with liquid manure at least once a week. If it be desired to continue the trees in blossom, the shoots should be removed as soon as they have done flowering. To secure full large blossoms, all the buds from a shoot should be cut off, except one, when quite young.
The sweet briar strikes its root deep, and prefers shade, the best soil being a deep rich loam, rather strong than otherwise; it will be well to place a heap of manure round the stem, above ground, covering over with turf, as for the rose Edward, &c.; but it is not requisite to open the roots, or give them so much manure. The sweet briar must not be much pruned, or it will not blossom, and it is rather slower in throwing out shoots than other roses. In this country the best mode of multiplying this shrub is by grafting on a China rose stock, as layers do not strike fully, and cuttings cannot be made to root at all.
The many-flowered rose is a climber, and though not needing so strong a soil as other kinds, requires it to be rich and frequently renewed, by taking away the soil from about the roots and supplying its place with a good compost of loam, leaf mould, and well rotted dung. They require shelter; this, if carefully trained, they will form for themselves; but until they do so, it is impossible to make them blossom freely; the higher branches should be allowed to droop, and if growing luxuriantly and the shoots not shortened, they will produce the following season bunches of flowers at the end of every shoot, and have a very beautiful effect; no pruning should be given except what is just enough to keep them within bounds, as they invariably suffer from the use of the knife; they are easily propagated by cuttings or layers, both which root readily.
The China rose thrives almost anywhere, but is best in a soil of loam and peat, a moderate supply of water being given daily during the hot Weather. They will require frequent thinning out of the branches; and are propagated by cuttings, which strike freely.
Rose trees look well in a parterre by themselves, as well as a few distributed along the borders.
Insects, &c. The green and the black plant louse are great enemies to the rose tree, and whenever they appear, it is advisable to cut out at once the shoot which they attack; the green caterpillar too, often makes skeletons of the leaves in a short time; the lady bird, as it is commonly called, is an useful insect and worthy of encouragement, as it destroys the plant louse.