Roses have a reputation for being difficult to care for, but actually rose care is easier than you think, anyone can grow them successfully. The main components involved with caring for roses that you need to understand are; planting, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and winterizing. And watch for diseases like powdery mildew or blackspot. Simply put, with the correct amount of water and sunlight and a little bit of grooming, your roses should thrive. And remember, roses are resilient plants. So, if you occasionally forget or muff something, the plants are surprisingly forgiving.
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How to Care for Roses
Follow these 10 simple ways to grow and care for your own beautiful roses:
1. Know your roots
You can purchase roses already potted in soil or as dormant bare-root plants. Each type has its benefits. If you’re a novice rose grower, container roses are a great way to go. They are easy to plant and establish quickly. They can also be purchased at local nurseries throughout the growing season, allowing you to plant them when climate conditions are ideal.
One of the biggest advantages of bare-root roses is the greater selection of varieties available. In addition, bare-root plants are an economical and convenient way to order plants by mail that you can’t find at a local nursery. Unlike container roses, however, bare-root plants need to have their roots soaked overnight in water before going in the ground. The roots must also be kept moist the first few months after planting.
2. Don’t overdo it
There are numerous classes of roses, ranging from micro-miniatures to grandifloras and from groundcovers to climbing roses, with some classes containing hundreds of varieties. While it may be tempting to fill your rose garden with a wide assortment, you are likely to end up with a disorderly array and too many plants for space. A few well-chosen varieties will give you far more satisfaction than dozens of mismatched plants that don’t work in harmony.
3. Find the right site
For the best show of flowers and the healthiest plants, rose bushes should receive six to eight hours of sunlight daily. In especially hot climates, roses do best when they are protected from the hot afternoon sun. In cold climates, planting a rose bush next to a south- or west-facing fence or wall can help minimize winter freeze damage.
Roses also thrive when planted in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. In heavy clay soil, mix in compost, peat moss, and other organic matter to improve drainage. In lean, sandy soils, adding compost will help to retain moisture near the plant’s roots.
4. Time it right
The best time to plant roses is in the spring, after the last frost, or in the fall at least six weeks before the average first frost in your area. This gives the roots enough time to burrow into the soil before the plants go dormant over the winter.
Bare-root roses are typically available only in early spring and should be planted soon after you bring them home. Roses growing in containers give you more flexibility in planting time and can go into the ground whenever climate conditions are agreeable.
5. Dig deep
The size of the hole in which you plant your roses is one of the key factors to getting them off to a good start. Whether you are planting bare-root or container roses, you need to dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s roots and to allow for good drainage. Especially since roses don’t like wet feet. If you are planting several rose bushes together, space them at least 3 feet apart to give the plant ample growing room as it matures.
When planting roses, dig a deep, wide hole that allows for proper drainage and leaves room for root growth.
Mix a generous amount of garden compost, peat moss, or other organic matter with the soil that was removed from the planting hole. Use some of this mixture at the bottom of the planting hole and place the rose bush in the hole. The plant’s crown should be at ground level in mild climates and 2 to 3 inches below ground level for cold climates. Fill the hole partially with the soil mixture and add slow-release fertilizer. Water thoroughly, and then finish filling the hole with the remaining soil. Water again, then mound loose soil around the canes to protect the rose while it acclimates to its new site.
6. Feed often
To produce an impressive show of flowers, a rose bush needs to be fertilized regularly. Organic methods provide a slow, steady supply of nutrients. Monthly applications of compost, composted manure, and other organic and natural fertilizers, such as this organic fish emulsion, work well. Organic amendments also help to encourage beneficial soil microbes and a well-balanced soil pH.
Feed roses consistently before and throughout the blooming cycle and use fertilizer to support healthy growth. Use an all-purpose garden fertilizer, because it has balanced amounts of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium). Fertilizers touted especially for roses — such as Rose Food — are fine but not mandatory. In spring, as the plant emerges from dormancy, you can water with a tablespoon of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) dissolved in a gallon of water to promote strong canes. Always water before applying fertilizer so the plant is plumped up and under no stress.
7. Water wisely
Roses do best when soil moisture is kept uniform throughout the growing season. The amount and frequency of watering will depend on your soil type and climate. The rule of thumb for watering roses is to make sure roses get about 2 inches a week. Deep soakings are much better than frequent, shallow watering. Roses growing in sandy soils will need more watering than those in heavier clay soils. Hot, dry, and windy conditions will also parch roses quickly. How you water is as important as the frequency. Set the hose at the foot of the rose and let water trickle in. Or if you have a big bed of roses or roses and companions, using a soaker hose is recommended so you deliver water directly to the roots and avoid the leaves.
Also, Read How to Water Succulents Properly 2019
Groom your roses to improve flowering and keep plants healthy. Using sharp clippers, you can spruce up your rosebushes whenever something unattractive about the plant catches your critical eye. It’s almost impossible to kill a rose bush by over-pruning. However, if you follow a few simple rules, the results will look more professional and result in a healthier plant. A good pair of bypass pruners (not anvil style) and rose pruning gloves can make the job even easier.
First, remove all dead and damaged canes (any that look brown), then cut back a third to a half of the previous year’s growth until you find healthy, white centers inside the cane. You can lightly prune your roses all season long to keep them well-groomed. The only other pruning needed for most varieties of reblooming roses is deadheading to encourage reblooming throughout the season. Just cut back below the first five-leaflet stem to promote regrowth. If your rose bushes are “self-cleaning,” which means they don’t develop rose hips, no deadheading is needed. The blooms will drop off automatically and the plants will keep on producing more flowers. Prune roses in the spring to destroy all old or diseased plant material. Early spring is the best time to prune. If it’s still winter, your overeager cuts may lead to frost damage. Pruning roses is a straightforward process: Remove all non-negotiable growth, thin the plants, and then shape them.
9. Keep them healthy
The best way to prevent rose diseases is to choose disease-resistant varieties. These roses are bred and selected to resist the most common rose afflictions, including powdery mildew and black spot.
Powdery mildew typically appears during the summer, especially when the days are hot and dry and the nights are cool and wet. The tell-tale signs include leaves that curl and twist and the development of a white, powdery down on the leaves. To avoid powdery mildew, water plants at ground level in the morning. This is as wet leaves, especially overnight, provide the perfect growing environment. Pruning a rose bush to allow air to circulate through the foliage also helps prevent this powdery growth.
Black spot is a waterborne fungal disease that appears as circular black or brown spots on the top side of leaves. It starts toward the bottom of a bush and works its way up, eventually causing defoliation. Prevent this disease the same way you prevent powdery mildew -by improving air circulation through the plant and watering at ground level. A simple mixture of baking soda and horticultural oil can help fight the spread of black spot. You can also use an organic 3-in-1 fungicide, like this one.
Pesky insects that like to feed on rose bushes include aphids, spider mites, and sawflies. Most of these pests can be controlled with neem oil or insecticidal soap. In the case of aphids, a blast of water from a hose in the morning is often the only treatment necessary.
For the most part, roses are tough and resilient and will thrive with minimal pampering.
10. Show them off
Of course, one of the greatest pleasures of planting garden roses is the harvest. Roses have long been prized for their beautiful and fragrant cut flowers. But no roses are lovelier than those gathered fresh from your own garden.
Additional Tips to Care for Roses
- Roses will last the longest when they are cut immediately after the bud stage when the petals are starting to open.
- Use hand pruners or garden scissors with sharp blades to cut the stems without damaging their water uptake channels.
- Cut roses when they are dewy fresh and hydrated. Do this either early in the morning or during the evening. This way, the plant isn’t stressed from hot weather and sun exposure.
- Recut the rose stems right before putting them in a vase to eliminate any air bubbles that will prevent them from taking in water. Also, cut the stems at a 45-degree angle so they don’t rest flat on the bottom of the vase.
- Strip off any lower leaves that fall below the water line to avoid rot and bacterial growth. Above the waterline, leave as much foliage as possible, which will help to draw up water.
- Change the water frequently — daily if possible — to remove any bacteria. Also, recut the flower stems every few days to improve water absorption.