Ground cover roses are trailing or spreading woody perennials that offer months of flower interest.


Ideal for growing in a container or on steep banks that are tricky to garden. Many are modern introductions and offer disease resistance. The Flower Carpet range is very popular.

Expect flowers all summer and if happy, they'll suppress weeds. Avoid the very sprawling, rambler types if planting in a container.

More on growing roses:

Take a look at our full guide on how to grow ground cover roses, below.

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Where to plant ground cover roses

Roses are hardy plants so can cope with unfavourable conditions. However, in order to thrive ground cover roses prefer a sunny spot in a well-drained fertile soil. Some will cope with partial shade.

Ground cover roses will cope with life in a large container as long as it's generously sized and the compost soil-based.

Adding granular feed to a container before planting a ground cover rose

How to plant ground cover roses

Ground cover roses make the perfect gift. With such a long flowering season and neat habit when young, they look tempting at the garden centre when container-grown. If purchasing as a potted plant don’t be tempted to leave plants in their sale pot. Pot on to a much larger pot or plant directly in the garden.

Bare-root plants are purchased in autumn and winter – this is often how specialist nurseries send out mail-order roses. Plant bare-root roses on a dry, frost-free day as soon as possible. Dig a hole at least twice the depth and width of the root ball and add in some well-rotted organic matter. Tease out the roots and place the plant in the hole. Ensure that they are planted at the same depth as they were in the pot, or look for a soil mark on the plant as a guide.

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 roses, 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