Growing roses and strawberries together in home garden has many benefits: better area utilization, strawberries act as ground cover and bear fruits all season, soil patch looks very decorative. Unfortunately, there are also some drawbacks of growing these plants together.
Both roses and strawberries prefer fertile, loamy soil, rich in organic matter, moist soil, but it must drain well. When preparing the soil, feel free to add plenty of aged manure, compost and humus. Also, feel free to add balanced NPK fertilizer (10-10-10, 5-10-10 etc) rich in microelements, preferably with gradual release of nutrients. Too much nitrogen should be avoided - plants will grow vigorously, but will be general weak and prone to diseases and pests.
Periodic supplementation is required to keep these 'heavy feeders' happy, so feel free to add some NPK fertilizer on a monthly basis.
Roses and strawberries prefer positions with full sun - minimum of 6 hours of full sun is required for good growth. Roses can make strong shadows when grown dense, so when growing roses and strawberries together don't choose small/miniature roses, but larger shrub sized varieties and prune shrubs regularly - this will benefit both to the strawberries (more sun) and roses (well aerated shrub, less problems with pests and diseases).
Mulching benefits both roses and strawberries - it keeps moisture in the soil (remember that strawberries have rather shallow roots), prevents strawberries from touching the soil and prevents fruits rot, prevents weeds etc. Also, mulch in contact with soil starts to decompose and helps in feeding the plants.
Growing roses and strawberries together also has some drawbacks and issues, for example:
- roses prefer soil with pH between 6 and 6.8, preferably around 6.4 - 6.5. Strawberries like soil with pH between 5.5 and 6.5, preferably around 6.2 - 6.3. Both values are rather close - both plants prefer slightly acidic soil, with strawberries preferring more acidic soil. Getting pH so accurately can be hard, but keep in mind that larger roses have deeper roots than common strawberries and if required, keep upper layer of the soil more acidic (pH around 6.2) and lower layer less acidic (pH around 6.5).
Note: going into such details is far beyond any home gardener, so when growing strawberries and roses together, aim for pH around 6.3 - 6.4 and your roses and strawberries will grow well.
- when growing roses for rose hips, rose flowers are not removed until rose hips are ripe. Removing old flowers stimulate production of new flowers, so prepare yourself for less flowers on such roses.
- aphids can be big problem for roses. Aphids like nitrogen, so to control them, use organic fertilizers and NPK fertilizers with slow release of nutrients. Roses grown for flowers can be fertilized with products containing insecticides that enter the plants through the roots and protects the plants from both sucking and chewing insects. Such fertilizers are NOT for plants that are going to be consumed! Also, insecticides in the form of spray can kill both good and bad bugs and in the long run can make cause even more damage. Note that ladybugs and green lacewings can help in keeping pests under control, but in the case of stronger attack, chemicals should be CAREFULLY used.
Photo: sometimes it is hard to keep strawberries under control
- strawberries that propagate using runners can cover large area quickly and grow too dense. Regular pruning of such strawberries is required in order to keep required distance between strawberry plants. Hint: in late spring remove ALL strawberry plants from the soil patch, add aged manure, compost and NPK fertilizer, till everything and then plant back strawberry plants some 20-30 cm (8-12 inches) apart. If pH is too low, consider adding some garden lime. Replanting is a shock to the plants, but strawberries are very tolerant to replanting - if not pruned and replanted, strawberries can spread out like weeds :)
When done properly, growing roses and strawberries can yield in large strawberry and rose hip crop.