10 Tips on Caring for Roses

Caring for Roses

Growing roses is easier than you might imagine. The key to healthy, fuss-free blooms comes with a little forethought before planting and a focus on prevention after you’ve added a rosebush to your garden. Use these tips to guide your rose-gardening success:

  • Choose sturdy, proven rose varieties. You’ll find plenty of versatile and resilient shrubs appropriate for your climate, as well as for the conditions in your garden.
  • When adding a rosebush to your garden, give it plenty of room to grow and reach mature size.
  • Plant roses where they will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. All-day sun is best.
  • Dig a planting hole twice as wide and just as deep as the nursery pot or root mass of your new plant.
  • Roses thrive in enriched soil. Improve soil before and after planting with several shovelfuls of composted manure worked into the area around the plant.
  • Feed plants monthly with rose fertilizer during the growing season. Stop feeding by late summer to avoid promoting tender new growth that could be damaged by freezing weather.
  • Water roses weekly if nature doesn’t provide soaking rains. Always water after fertilizing. Preserve soil moisture by spreading a 2-inch layer of mulch (compost, shredded leaves, and chopped bark) on the ground around the base of the plant.
  • Keeping plants healthy helps prevent pests and diseases. Stopping to enjoy your roses enables you to spot the first signs of problems. Take a nonchemical approach to troubleshooting: A blast with the garden hose often eliminates insect pests. Cleaning up leaf litter minimizes diseases.
  • Snipping off spent flowers keeps roses growing strong. Stop cutting by late summer to help plants slow their growth and prepare for winter. In late winter or early spring, trim off any damaged canes (stems). Remove brown canes that show no signs of life when the rest of the bush appears green.
  • If you live in a cold climate, help your roses survive by covering the base of each plant with compost heaped to 12 inches. In spring, uncover the plant when it begins to show new growth.

Final tip: Give roses at least three years to become fully established in your garden. If the plant thrives, savor your success. If it doesn’t, replace that rose with a different variety, and try again in another part of the garden.

Learn more about roses and other flowers in our hardcover volume, The Art of Flowers, available at Victoriamag.com.

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  1. Great advice. DO stop and look at your roses to control disease. Due to knee surgery and a broken foot, I was unable to adequately tend to my roses for two consecutive years. Things got totally out of control. This year I cut them way back, and since every leaf had black spot, I stripped them bare and did break down and treat them with a systemic fungicide/insecticide and fed them. I was also careful to clean up all debris on the ground. It’s only been three weeks, and they are leafing out beautifully, disease free.


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