Hello Dr, I am growing some floribunda 'Lili Marlene' for my friends wedding in late July. I'm going to need 8 heads for her bouquet but will need 8 heads for a trial run earlier. Someone has said that rose petals can blow off easily in the wind whilst growing. I have 3 plants growing and am thinking maybe I should buy 3 more to plant and maybe grow them in deep pots in the polytunnel. Would you give me your expert prognosis please. Ronaigh, Littlehampton

I think you are expecting too much to produce 8 heads of blooms all out at the perfect stage on one given day from just 3 bushes. You are going to have to have a big slice of luck to get them to bloom on that particular day. Have they got to be Lili Marlene. What you could really do with is 3 separate varieties to hopefully get one of them to bloom on the right day. Your task is all the more difficult because by late July the first flush will be gone and the second flush will not have arrived. In other words between crops. I would not want to be in your shoes. I would have chosen a really early bloomer and hope the second flush would come in time, and also a very late bloomer and prune late to hope the first flush would hold on till late July. You are living in one of the earliest parts of the country, I would expect your Lili Marlene to bloom late June. You can pot bare rooted rose bushes into 10 ltr pots in the winter, they will make fine bushes and flower by early July if you liquid feed at half strength every watering. 

If I had been charged with your task I would have potted 10 bushes of three varieties in November into 10 litre black florist buckets (free 10 ltr black tubs that the florists discard, which their flowers are delivered in) obviously make drainage holes. Kept them in a sunny sheltered spot, and lift them into the greenhouse when they show colour, because a wet windy week just when they bloom will spoil them as a wedding flower. I think I would have delayed pruning till the first week in April and prune them hard, down to 4 inches to delay them and make them shoot from the base, hoping they bloom at the end of July instead of late June.

I would use 60% multipurpose compost, 20% grit and 20% sterilized loam. Feed at half strength at every watering. Water when the surface of the compost begins to dry out. 

I grew Lili Marlene around about 1970. There are better reds around now. George Best is a good bright red, This years rose of the year Moment in Time looks quite good. Temptress is quite late blooming. Dorothy Wheatcroft is very vigorous and gives plenty of stems. Is there any chance you can put the wedding back a year, then you could get more bushes. All I can do is wish you the best of luck, I hope your life doesn't depend on this. Doctor Rose