Caring for Roses

About Roses

It’s easy to pass over roses when you’re shopping at your local garden center.  You stop to say, “ooh and ahh” at the beautiful colors and enticing fragrances, but when it’s time to leave you bid, “Ado” without a second thought.  Most homeowners share your sentiments about roses. Caring for roses seems like a daunting task... so why bother?

Roses bloom from late spring to frost.  As a constant source of color and fragrance throughout the growing season, (this writer can say without a doubt), that roses are worth the extra effort.


Planting Roses

Roses grow best in spacious, sunny locations with rich, well-drained soil.  For best results, plant your roses in an area that receives morning sun.  This will reduce the chances of your roses contracting fungal issues from sitting water.  Roses should be planted according to TSLG’s Planting Guidelines.  If your plants are bare-root, dig a hole the depth of the roots and then build a small pyramid of soil in the hole for the roots to comfortably sit on.  Carefully spread roots over the pyramid making sure the top of the root cluster begins barely below the surface, (it’s better to plant bare root roses shallow than too deep).  Mix Bumper Crop™ with the backfill to improve the soil structure before filling in the hole.   Ideally, you want a fairly rich mix for your roses; half the backfill should be Bumper Crop™ and half should be your existing soil.

You can find bare root roses in late February and March.  For the rest of the year, roses are sold in containers and can be planted at any time in the spring, summer, or fall.  If planting your roses in the summer, pay careful attention to watering.


Caring for Roses 

Water newly planted roses deeply and frequently for the first few weeks; after that, normal rainfall is usually sufficient. During our hot, dry summers water deeply and infrequently (several gallons per plant) every three to four days. Avoid wetting foliage and flowers with overhead watering as much as possible.  This practice helps to minimize the likelihood of your roses contracting disease and insect pests.  You can use drip irrigation, a soaker hose, or hand watering to direct the water toward roots and away from leaves.

Fertilize with Espoma’s Rose-tone™ or a complete fertilizer like 10-10-10 every 4 weeks beginning in March, making your last application by mid- August.

Pruning must be done regularly throughout the growing season.  Dead or weak branches should be pruned back to the nearest healthy branch.  It is also good practice to remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing.  Crossing or rubbing branches negatively affect flower production.  When pruning roses, your goal is to maintain an open center to improve air circulation.  Roses with good air circulation produce the most blooms.  When pruning on your rose, make cuts at a slight angle just above (1/4 inch) an outward facing bud or where a leaf is or was attached (node).  Take time once a week to remove dead flowers in this manner.

Control Pests and Diseases with regular applications of chemical or organic control methods.  Bonide’s Rose Rx 3 in 1 insecticide, miticide, and fungicide is the perfect organic preventative.  You can find this product as a hose end spray.  Treat your roses once every two weeks to prevent common diseases such as black-spot, anthracnose, and blight, or to kill aphids, mites, scale, whitefly, beetles, or leaf miners at any stage of its life cycle.

Winterize your roses by first removing any fallen debris around your plants.  Prune back any unruly shoots to the main canes, this pruning should neutralize problems with poor air flow.  Late fall is the perfect time to test your soil’s pH.  The pH should be near-neutral, 6.5 to 7.0.  Use lime to adjust soils below this range and soil acidifier to adjust pH above this range.


Types of Roses 

Roses can be used in a perennial border, as a singular specimen in the landscape, or even in containers!  The trick is choosing the right rose for your intended purpose.  Read below to find out which rose is right for you.

Hybrid Tea Rose

Hybrid Teas produce the large, often fragrant blooms we see used in floral bouquets.  These roses are repeat-bloomers that can grow up to 5 feet tall!  Hybrid Tea roses are often touted as the most beautiful, but also most labor-intensive.

Floribunda Rose

This shrub-like rose is best used en masse in the landscape.   Floribundas hold their blooms in small clusters on compact plants (usually 4 feet and under).  Many varieties of Floribunda roses are fragrant, hardy, and disease resistant.

Grandiflora Rose

Like Floribunda, Grandiflora roses bear smaller blooms in clusters.  Grandiflora’s typically grow 4 to 5 feet tall and exhibit the same hardiness and disease-resistance characteristics of Floribunda.

Climbing Rose

Climbing Roses produce long canes requiring trellises or other support.  These roses are very labor intensive but equally rewarding.

Shrub Rose

The easiest type of rose to grow, Shrub roses are extremely low-maintenance.  These roses are perfect for the beginner gardener as it is not picky about pruning and can be periodically sheared back like boxwood or holly.  Shrub roses are extremely drought-tolerant once established and are among the most disease and insect-resistant roses.