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Rose Abraham Darby Ultimate Growing Guide

Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’ or the Rose Abraham Darby is a cultivar of David Austin Roses. It is a beautiful, fragrant variety with large double apricot-colored blossoms. 

This rose can be grown as a shrub, or it can be trained into a climbing rose. It’s intoxicating fragrance and large blooms makes it a stunning addition to the garden.


Rose Abraham Darby Ultimate Growing Guide

Getting to Know Rose Abraham Darby

Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’ or the Rose Abraham Darby is a cultivar of David Austin Roses

The Rose Abraham Darby is a variety of David Austin rose that was introduced in 1985. It is a cross between an ‘Aloha’ and ‘Yellow Cushion’ roses. It was named after Abraham Darby, a man who played a vital role in the industrial revolution.

Abraham Darby roses grow as a well-formed shrub that can grow up to 5 feet wide and high, or as a climbing rose that can reach up to 10 feet in height.

The blossoms are described as large, well formed, double flowers that have a strong sweet and fruity scent and a gentle apricot color with gold flecks towards the center.

Like most roses, Abraham Darby thrives best in specific conditions, and needs a bit of extra care to stay healthy and producing its signature blooms. Here is a guide to help grow and maintain the beautiful Abraham Darby rose.

How To Grow Rose Abraham Darby

How To Grow Rose Abraham Darby

Rose Abraham Darby are an English rose that grow in zones 5-10, in colder zones consider a hardier rose (such as Rosa rugosa), and for more tropical climates consider a heat tolerant variety (such as Rosa calypso). But for many of the people who live in the zones between 5 and 10, Abraham Darby will grow beautifully.

Purchasing an David Austin Abraham Darby from a reputable nursery or garden center is the easiest way to obtain it. To plant the rose, choose a suitable, full sun location and dig a hole two times as wide as the root ball of the plant.

Sprinkle bone meal into the hole once it is dug. Fill the hole with water and wait for it to mostly sink in. Now remove the rose from its pot and ‘scruff’ up the root ball so that it is not stuck in the shape of the pot (depending on how root bound the rose is, it may take a lot to shake the roots apart, it may take less).

If the root ball is stuck like a mat on the bottom of the rose, it may have to be cut off to free the roots. Now plant the rose into the pre-dug hole and use a combination of the original soil that was dug, and some fresh soil and compost. Nothing beats the fun of making your own compost so learn how to make your own compost here

Water low and slow and keep watering until it is established. It is best to plant in the morning, or late afternoon, or on a cloudy or rainy day to minimize the transplant shock, avoid hot days and the heat of the afternoon.

If planting a bare root rose, still dig a large hole and fill with a mixture of the original soil and compost, this will make it easier for the roots to grow outwards. Water well.

Sun Requirements

Abraham Darby roses, as with any rose, requires full sun in order to bloom to its full potential. Pick a spot where it will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Anything less and rose will have less blooms, and have a stringy, or leggy appearance as it attempts to reach for the sun. It will also be more susceptible to disease, such as powdery mildew and rust if it is not getting enough sun.

Do not place the rose against anything that will reflect heat back at it, like a house foundation. This radiated heat can cause crispy leaves and flowers.

Soil Requirements

Rosa Abraham Darby, like all roses, prefer rich and loamy soil that drains freely and doesn’t allow for water to sit on their roots. When planting a new rose, it is best to amend the current garden soil with a mixture of compost, and light fluffy garden mix.

Roses also prefer slightly acidic soil, for the average gardener this isn’t something to really worry about unless the area is known for extreme alkaline or acidic conditions.

Soil can be tested with a quick soil pH test and amended as needed. The ideal pH range for roses is 6-6.5. If the soil is too alkaline sphagnum peat or aluminum sulphate can be added to the soil to lower the pH.

If the soil is too acidic, a product that contains lime should be added. If this all sounds too crazy or complicated, don’t even worry about it unless the rose is really showing signs of struggle, most soils (as long as they are loose and rich) will be perfectly fine for roses including the Abraham Darby rose.

Watering Darby Rose

Abraham Darby roses like to be kept evenly moist. If they have irrigation watering them, the regular system will suffice. If watering by hand a good weekly drink should be enough.

Water them less often, but deeply is a better choice. A drip hose, or simply leaving the hose on a low trickle for an hour is better than giving them a short blast (also, avoid blasting the leaves altogether). Of course, this is all dependent on the amount of rain, luckily the rose should say when its thirsty by having droopy leaves. 

Newly planted roses require more water than an established rose, so for the first season give it extra water, low and slow so the roots will spread and reach the water (this will help produce a good strong network of roots).

Abraham Darby Rose Care

Abraham Darby Rose Care



Roses is a great way to keep them evenly moist. The mulch will hold onto the water instead of having it run off. This is especially good for new roses, waiting until a rose droops because of lack of water will cause stress, keeping it mulched and moist will benefit the rose in the long run.

Mulch is also a great way to protect Rose Abraham Darby that are planted in the lower zones by providing some extra insulation for the winter. Water roses in thoroughly before the winter freeze up.


Roses do need to be fed in order to produce a profusion of summer blooms, and the Abraham Darby rose is no exception. A top dressing of compost added to all garden beds in the late fall or early spring will benefit the whole garden including roses.

Then in spring add a specialized rose fertilizer to the base of the Rosa Abraham Darby, and then again after the first flush of flowers. This will keep the rose beautiful and blooming.

Pruning Rosa Abraham Darby

Pruning an Abraham Darby rose properly is key to its success. This variety of rose will only bloom on new, first year growth. This is important to note because it is what will help determine how to prune the rose and create a shape that will be both appealing and keep the rose healthy and disease free.

Pruning should be done early in early spring.The first step to pruning is to have sharp clean secateurs (get the best secateurs in 2022 here), and a pair of gloves. Next, start by cutting out all the dead wood from the rose.

Dead wood will be hollow feeling and will not have green on the inside, some of the dead wood will just pull away easily from the rose. Now cut any damaged canes, and any spindly thin canes, focus on keeping only healthy, solid wood that will be able to support the large flowers of the Rose Abraham Darby . 

Abraham Darby rose thrives best in specific conditions, and needs a bit of extra care to stay healthy and producing its signature blooms

Next focus on keeping the center of the rose open, so there will be adequate airflow and reduce the risks of diseases and fungus. This would include pruning any canes that are growing sideways through the center, and any canes that are crossing over each other. 

An open vase shape where all the canes are growing up and out is ideal. Now to focus on that outward vase shape, make cuts ½” above the little green bud (this will be the new growth). 

Make the cut on an angle sloping downward to discourage any pests and disease from entering the fresh cut (a sealant can be used to further protect these cuts). Pruning should be done so that the new buds are facing outwards, so they will grow up and out into the vase shape.

David Austin Abraham Darby make great climbing roses, if pruning to help it climb, use the old growth for support against the climbing structure, and then prune the canes so that the new bud will grow towards the trellis.

After the roses bloom, deadheading (cutting off) the spent rose blossoms that have turned into rose hips will encourage a flush of new blossoms.

Rose hips are an attractive winter feature, so quit pruning them as autumn approaches for some winter interest (this isn’t necessary, but it’s nice to have something to look at in a winter garden).

Garden Design with Rose Abraham Darby

Rose Abraham Darby are an English rose that grow in zones 5-10

Rose Abraham Darby are stunning, they make a great stand out feature in a garden. In a sunny spot, surrounded by lower lying perennial ground covers this rose shines (don’t place these perennials too close to the feet of the rose, roses don’t like to be crowded, give Abraham Darby some space).

Consider placing them near where people gather so everyone can enjoy their sweet fragrance. The blossoms on Rosa Abraham Darby are large and can be quite heavy, consider using supports to hold the flower so it’s not drooping downwards.

This rose can be trained into a climber and use a large trellis or archway for support as well. They can climb up to 10 feet high, so make sure to have a trellis or archway tall enough to support it.

In warmer zones Abraham Darby roses can be planted in pots, which will raise them up so the large heavy blossoms will nod downwards and be in full view.

In colder zones they can still be planted in pots, they just need to be sunk into the ground in the fall and then they can be dug up again in the spring. Depending on the pot it’s in, the pot itself can be buried into the ground with the rose so as to not disturb its roots.

This would not work with a ceramic pot, however it would work with a big plastic nursery pot (then that pot could be placed into a decorative pot in the summer).

Rosa Abraham Darby can also be used to create an informal hedge, or a screen to block out unwanted views (maybe the neighbor’s garbage cans). Prune the rose all at the same height and it will start growing in thicker to achieve this look.

Darby Rose Abraham Pests and Diseases

Rosa Abraham Darby can be used to create an informal hedge


Rose Abraham Darby, as with all roses, are susceptible to pests and diseases. The best method of dealing with these nuisances is by trying to prevent them from happening by keeping the rose in optimal health.

Make sure to follow the open method of pruning to allow for proper airflow to prevent mildews and blackspot. Make sure the rose is in full sun, but not against a house or wall where it receives radiated heat.

Fertilize the rose at the beginning and middle of the season to ensure the rose is getting all the nutrients it needs. Make sure the rose has enough water, but is not left with standing water on its roots.

Picking up the leaf litter in the fall from the base of the rose tree is also recommended to remove any critters or disease hiding in the leaves. Now that all the basics are covered and the rose has the best possible chance of being healthy, well, pests and disease can still happen. 

Rose Rust

Rose Abraham Darby are actually resistant to black spot and mildew, but they are prone to rust (if the rose gets black spot or mildew, use the same treatment and prevention method as with rose rust).

Rose rust is caused by a fungus and will appear as yellowish orange ‘rusty’ spots on the leaves. Too much humidity can cause this fungus to grow. To prevent rust from forming, good airflow is important and the rose should be pruned to create an open center.

Also, watering the rose at the soil and not over head spraying onto the leaves will help prevent rust. Once the rust appears, spray with a fungicide as the label directs. Remove and dispose of all infected leaves to help stop it from spreading. 

Crown Gall

Crown gall is another disease that can infect Rose Abraham Darby. This one isn’t so bad, mostly just unsightly. It will appear as large woody knots, or tumors that appear on the rose branches. Simply cut these galls off and dispose of them (not in the compost).


Aphids are a common pest to have on roses, including Abraham Darby. They can be sprayed with an insecticide to destroy them. However, they can also be dealt with in a non chemical way. 

Never underestimate a good blast with the hose, or just scraping them off by hand. Or ladybugs, ladybugs love feasting on aphids, they can be purchased from garden specialty shops, or they can be collected by children and brought over to the roses. 

Here is our guide to help you learn more about aphids and how to control them

Rose Thrips

Rose thrips are probably the most annoying of the rose pests, as they will devour the rose buds right off the plant before they even have the chance to bloom.

These bugs are slender, yellow tinged insects, they are very tiny so it’s easier to identify the problems on the roses, such as deformed flower buds and the leaves will have a blotchy mottled appearance.

These are not a fun pest to battle. Start by cutting off all damaged parts of the rose. The natural way to fight them is to release beneficial insects near the roses, this includes lady bugs and minute pirate bugs (believe it or not you can purchase bugs at a garden store or nursery), these bugs devour thrips.

However, this does not always work depending on the size of the infestation (you can buy and release beneficials, but it’s never a guarantee they will stick around).

As a last resort, a systemic insecticide should be applied to the base of the rose (last resort as these insecticides kill everything, including beneficial insects).

Rose Abraham Darby FAQs

How tall does an Rose Abraham Darby get?

In it’s shrub form it can reach 5’ high. It can also be grown as a climbing rose, in which case it can reach 10’ in height.

What does Abraham Darby rose smell like?

It is one of the most scented roses in the David Austin series and is described as sweet and fruity.

How do you care for Abraham Darby roses?

Full sun, adequate water, and loose well draining rich soil are all important for growing beautiful and healthy Rosa Abraham Darby. Proper pruning at the beginning of the season is also crucial to the health of the rose to create airflow and prevent disease.

Is Rose Abraham Darby a climber?

Yes! It makes a nice upright shrub, but it can also be trained to climb a structure and reach up to 10’ in height.

Wrapping Up Our Rose Abraham Darby Growing Guide

The Rose Abraham Darby is a striking double blooming, apricot colored flower, with an intoxicating scent. It forms a beautiful large shrub, or it can be trained into a climbing rose which makes it a versatile and beautiful addition to any garden.

About the Author Mabel Vasquez

Mabel has enjoyed a long career as a horticulturist, working in nurseries and greenhouses for many years. Although she loves all plants, Mabel has developed a particular passion over the years for herb gardens and indoor plants. Mabel has since retired from her horticulture career and loves sharing her many years of experience with our audience here at Sumo Gardener.

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