How to Plant, Grow and Take Care of Roses


How to Plant, Grow, and Take Care of Roses

When you mention the word “Rose”, many people throw up their hands desperately and say something like, “I love roses, but they are too difficult to grow!” In this guide, you will learn how to plant, grow and take care of roses in an easy-to-implement manner.

Growing roses is not at all a difficult task if you choose the area that they will like and want to grow in.

Once you chose such an area, you move a great step forward in your endeavor of the development of beautiful roses that will last for many years to come, because roses that are healthier and happier are more likely to fight the menaces of disease and pests.

1. Site Choice

Let us now learn about the best places to grow roses. Roses prefer the outdoors and a sunny location.  Most of the types of roses need a minimum of six to eight hours of sun a day to grow well.

Remember, roses are more likely to grow better in the morning sun than during any other time of the day.

If you live at a place where it rains a lot, or if it is marked by extremely low temperatures, then try to plant roses where they have sun all day long.

If you live at a place where there is intense heat in the summer, be sure to give your roses reasonable protection against the scorching sun of the peak afternoon. Try to plant them where there is partial shade.

Good air movement is also very helpful to dry rain and morning dew. This helps to discourage disease.

Roses should be planted two to three feet apart.

Container-grown roses can be planted all year-round, but do not plant in winter if the ground is frozen. This rule applies to all roses.

Bare Rooted Roses

The best time to plant bare-rooted roses is the late autumn at leaf fall when the ground is still warm.

The alternative is early spring but the ground at this time will be colder.

When ready for planting soak the bare-rooted roses in a bucket of water for an hour or two.

To delay the planting of bare-rooted roses for a few days, keep the plants moist and in a cool and dark location.  Alternatively, put them in a soil bucket with moist soil in a shaded location.

Bare rooted roses are often bought by mail order and ideally should be planted as soon as they are received.

With this in mind make sure you order bare-rooted roses at the best time of year.

Dig a hole roughly twice the width of the plant’s roots and the depth of a spade’s blade.  Place the plant in the center of the hole, make sure that the graft point, where the cultivar joins the rootstock (if you are dealing with a grafted plant) is at the level of the soil and not below the surface.  Fill back the soil you have taken out and firm.

At this time bone meal may be added at the rate of 100 gms to one square meter.

Water the plants well particularly in a dry spell.

If you are replacing roses with new ones, make sure that you dig out the soil to a depth and width of eighteen inches and exchange it with soil from another part of the garden, as roses are at risk of a disease known as soil sickness.

This is important and should not be overlooked.

Wind

Nearly all types of roses do not like windy conditions, so if there is a prevailing wind in your garden, plant the roses near a building, wall, or fence to ensure some shelter. Wind may also cause excessive drying of the plant resulting in the need for more watering than usual.

Root System

Avoid planting roses near other plants that are likely to share the supply of nutrients and water.

Think about what will grow close to your roses so that their roots do not compete for water and food.

Annual and perennial plants have shallow roots and are not in competition against roses to draw water and food from the same level of the soil.  They can therefore be planted with roses, but a number of trees and shrubs have deep root systems, sometimes of the same depth as your roses, and would utilize plenty of food and water that could have otherwise been used to water your roses.

Make sure you know what type of root system each tree or shrub that grows alongside your roses has. Can they be planted next to your roses? If you are unsure, ask your local garden center, and they should be able to tell you.

Soil Quality

Plant roses in a loamy soil. Roses prefer clay that does not hold or stop water but retains moisture. If you have clay soil that does not drain well or sandy soil that flows too much, take your own time to improve your soil.

You will find improving the quality of the soil will greatly benefit the health of your roses.

Use artificially raised beds if necessary. If you live in an area that has a layer of soil like concrete or if the earth is really bad, then you may want to consider using these elevated beds.

Raised beds can save time, money, and frustration; do not hesitate to go that route if necessary. No matter how good or bad your soil is, the importance of improving its quality cannot be overstated.

The site must be made rich in organic matter by artificially digging it in. A combination of cow manure and compost works well. Shredded bark can also be used.

Drainage is very important in the long-term health of the plant. Here is something I always do before planting. When you dig the hole in which you intend to plant your rose, check the drainage of the area by filling it with water before you plant.

If the hole is empty of water within a few hours this indicates good drainage. Ensuring the roots won’t rot when you water the plant or be likely to freeze in winter conditions.

Keep your plants in your visibility range if possible. If you can afford to plant your roses where they will be visible not only from the terrace but also from inside the house then you will enjoy their beauty all the more.

Happiness

So now you know where to grow roses to make them happy, which in turn will make you happy.

Roses in a state of good health are more resistant to insect problems and diseases. Equipped with this knowledge, you can be sure of carrying out an informed site choice for your rose garden where you can grow healthy roses.

2. Pruning

Pruning of roses is done to remove dead, damaged, and diseased wood. Also, to increase air circulation and to keep or alter the shape of the plant.

Pruning Roses requires patience and know-how.
Pruning Roses is Critical to Keeping a Healthy Rose Garden

Pruning of rose bushes may be tiresome and painful if it is not done well because the plant has thorns gloves that should be worn when pruning.

It should be noted, becoming a good rose gardener or rose pruner may take an individual some time, and thus patience is required.

Anybody can undertake rose pruning if he or she has basic rose pruning skills since it is very difficult to destroy or kill the rose plant as a result of bad pruning practice.  There are many different types of roses, some of which require pruning in the spring and others later in the year.

Basic Tools

First, let us look at the basic tools needed to prune any type of rose.

  1. Heavy-duty loppers, preferably long-handled, cut branches from climbers and ramblers while still standing on the ground. Also, for any thick branches.
  2. Pruning shears, these you will use for much of the day-to-day pruning, including deadheading and shaping that will take place over the season.
  3. Pruning saw, for cutting out canes at the base of the plant.
  4. Gloves, a must every time you prune.

Deadheading Roses

Deadheading is a term you may or may not be familiar with. Basically, it means the removal of faded flowers before they develop into seeds. This should be done throughout the growing season.

Deadheading is an essential task for taking care of roses
Deadheading Roses Helps to Prevent Disease

Deadheading is a good way to prevent a disease from becoming a problem.

If you grow roses that develop hips, and you require the hips, you should not prune off the old flowers. In this case, simply clean the old flower petals away with your hand.

This is a general guide to the job of pruning roses. Later I will give you a guide to when and what to prune on the roses covered in this post.

  • Always use clean and sharp tools.
  • Begin to prune from the base of the plant up. 
  • Your aim should be to open up the center of the plant to light and air circulation. 
  • Always make your cuts at a forty-five-degree angle.
  • Always cut back to about one-quarter of an inch above an outward-facing bud so that the growth will be in that direction.
  • It should always be a clean-cut, never a ragged edge.
  • Remove all broken, dead, or diseased wood.
  • Remove any sucker growth that appears.

Suckers are stalks that appear from where the rose was grafted onto the rootstock. They will not flower and will take the strength of the plant.

Remember to deadhead faded flowers throughout the growing season to ensure a long flowering and healthy plant.

Right then, that is the basic way to prune, here is when and what to prune on the roses in this guide. Check out our more detailed annual and continual rose pruning techniques article.

Hybrid tea

Prune in early spring. Cut out dead and diseased wood and any crossing stems. Cut out some center stems if the center is crowded. Cut the remaining stems back to an outward-facing bud, as hard as possible, ideally four to six inches from the ground.

Floribunda

Prune in early to late spring. Cut out dead and diseased wood and any crossing stems. Only cut out the center stems if the center is very crowded. Cut the remaining stems back to an outward-facing bud ideally one foot from the ground.

Grandiflora

Prune in early spring. Cut out dead and diseased wood and any crossing stems. Cut out the center stems completely. Cut the remaining stems back to an outward-facing bud ideally six to eight inches from the ground.

Miniature Roses

Prune the miniature roses in the same way as the hybrids and floribunda. Prune on a smaller scale in keeping with the plant’s stature, and aim to cut back about one-third of the plant’s overall height.

Climbing Roses

Prune in the late autumn, after the flowers have all faded. Remove any dead or diseased branches. Cut back old branches to ground level. Retain four to six young stems that have two leaf buds per stem and secure them with supports.

Rambling Roses

Prune in late summer, after the plant has flowered and any hips that you may want have been removed. Remove dead and diseased branches. Cut old branches back to ground level. Retain all young stems that have two leaf buds per stem and secure with supports.

Shrub Roses

Prune in mid-spring. Remove dead or diseased wood. Thin out the center and remove all crossing branches. Cut back branches to a point where two leaf buds are visible. Aim to reduce the overall height by about half.

3. Feeding and Mulching

Any good well-balanced feed will do the trick at this time. Slow-release fertilizer can be applied at the start of the rose’s growing season when the higher nitrogen ratio is good for new stem growth.

Feeding and Mulching Roses with Slow-Release Feeding is Great
Feeding and Mulching

The beauty of this type of slow-release feeding is that a single application in spring will be enough to feed the rose throughout the growing season, as the nutrients are released according to moisture and temperature ratios.

The warmer the climate, the more feed is released. This coincides with the growth pattern of the rose bush.

There are many liquid feeds available for rose feeding. Liquid feeds will need to be applied quite often throughout the growing season. I typically purchase feed in gallon size quantities and have used Great Big Roses Organic Rose Fertilizer. There are many brands out there, but be sure you can order it at least in gallon sizes and be sure to follow the directions for how to use it properly.

If organic feeds are used at the time of pruning, such as bone meal, then these should be applied a few weeks before, and for two weeks after pruning as they take longer to work.

Some people like to check the pH level of their soil to make sure it is not too acid or alkaline. A simple soil test will let you know if the soil needs to be treated. You can pick up a multi-purpose pH meter, like the affordable Sonkir Soil pH Meter, which also lets you measure moisture and light levels of the soil.

Maintaining a proper pH level in the soil will enable your roses to absorb the extra minerals and nutrients that any fertilizer will bring.

Different Ideas on When and How to Feed Roses

There are many different ideas about when and how to feed roses. You will find your own way of doing things as you progress as a rose grower.

In general, I would say feed once at pruning time with organic fertilizer, and twice more during the growing season.

Is it possible to grow roses successfully without mulch? The answer is yes, but why would you want to?

Besides helping the root system to retain water while keeping weeds away, mulching helps to enhance the beauty of your roses and give your rose garden a beautiful, manicured look. Some mulches take this step further and help provide food for your roses.

Organic mulches such as tree bark, manure, sawdust, and even grass clippings will break down over time and provide a good supply of nutrients for your roses.

Other, non-organic types of mulch include pea gravel and small rocks in various colors.

While these types of mulch do not contain organic matter that would break down and feed the plants, they do last longer and provide a beautiful base for your flowers for years to come. There are two schools of thought when it comes to mulching:

  1. Single Mulch
  2. Double Mulch

Single Mulch Method

The single mulching method is, as the name implies, one layer of mulch that is cleaned out and replaced annually as necessary.

It is beneficial to remove layers of non-organic mulch and apply a thin layer of organic material annually such as manure.

A word of caution, though, make certain that the manure is old since fresh manure is extremely acidic and can “burn” the plants.

Double Mulch

Double mulch only works with organic mulch because it relies upon breaking down or rotting away, a bottom layer of mulch from the previous year.

A new layer of organic mulch is simply applied over the old mulch. The additional nutrition gained by the plant from the decaying organic matter of the first layer of old mulch will be sure to make your plant smile with beautiful blooms for the entire season.

Another advantage of mulching is the added protection and warmth that the mulch provides during freezing temperatures.

The mulch acts as insulation to help the plant survive harsh winters. Apply mulch in the spring just as the soil is warming up, and before the weeds start to appear. More mulch can then be applied at any time during the growing season.

I always think a deeper mulch is best and would recommend a depth of about four inches for all types of organic mulch.

Give new roses about six months before you mulch so that they can develop to an extent where they can accept the mulch without problems.

4. Watering Roses

Roses appreciate lots of water. It helps them grow to their fullest and promotes large, long-lasting flowers with rich color and sturdy petals.

Watering Roses is a Daily Chore
Roses Require Lots of Water

Water is the means by which the rose transports nutrients. In temperate climates, weekly watering in the summer is usually enough. If the soil is sandy or the garden is in a hot, dry, or windy area, more frequent watering may be necessary.

Light watering, in turn, will let the rose establish roots that are very near the surface, making the plant more susceptible to the effects of too much heat in the summer or freezing in the winter.

Watering your roses early in the day and at ground level will help prevent diseases like black spots.

When to Water Roses

Knowing when to water is not too difficult. You can invest in a water probe or just stick your finger into the soil. If it comes out completely dry, you may need to step up your watering. If it comes out muddy, that is an indication that there might be too much water or not enough drainage.

Water should be allowed to soak the entire root system before allowing it to dry.

More watering is a requirement for roses in containers since their roots are confined in a smaller region thus evaporation is likely, especially for ceramic pots. It is recommended that rose bushes should have one to two inches of water weekly on average.

  • For the newly planted roses, conditions of complete dryness should not be allowed.
  • For drier areas, ensure that you water the roses for at least 30 minutes twice a week. Several methods of watering roses do exist that are both effective and affordable.

Any method able to provide sufficient water to the roses, and appropriate to the gardener is acceptable.

Natural rain in some cases will fail to provide the amount of water required by the roses.

This calls for alternative and artificial methods to reach this minimum requirement.

In addition to raising resistance to diseases, sufficient water improves the appearance of roses. Detailed below is a list of recommended watering methods for roses.

Watering Can

This is considered the easiest and most inexpensive method of watering roses.

The only drawback associated with it is the waste of time.  However, this method is more convenient in areas that need supplemental watering to complement the inadequate rainfall levels.

Drip Level Irrigation

This is an affordable method characterized by low maintenance costs. With a soaker hose, the roses are watered without the gardener being in attendance. Although the initial cost of buying and installing the pipes is high, long-term benefits are reaped within a short span of time.

Watering Tips

  1. Before the application of pesticides, the rose bushes should be well watered.
  2. Whenever the temperatures are high, that is above 90, you should maintain a closer look while increasing the watering.
  3. Consider watering your roses by hand rather than mechanically. This in essence gives you a chance to find insects and fungus-related problems on time.
  4. Never forget to give the roses some little water during the winter months.

It is worth appreciating the fact that roses do exist in different forms. The wild roses, which are common among many households, need varying water levels, while others such as rugosa rose are actually drought resistant. Knowledge and understanding of the different species of rose will be important in getting the watering concept right.

5. Pests and Diseases

Just like any other plant, roses can be affected by a number of pests and diseases. Although roses may survive without the fundamental pest control program, their appearance will not be appealing.

It is therefore recommended that a proper pest control program should be selected in order for the roses to withstand these pests and diseases.

Below are some of the pests and diseases that will affect roses.

Black Spot

Caused by fungi, black spot leads to the appearance of black spots on the leaves’ upper surface. Starting from the bottom to the top of the plant, this disease causes the yellowing of leaves, which eventually fall off.

Black Spots on Rose Leaves are Caused by Fungi
Black Spots on Rose Leaves

Since there is no chemical cure for the infected roses, it is advisable for planters to spray fungicide on regular basis, prune the affected canes and apply fungicide before the opening of the leaves.  Plants should not be watered from above because it will encourage the germination of fungi.

Powdery Mildew

Also caused by fungi, powdery mildew affects young leaves leading them to twist and curl and form a purple coloration.  With the progression of the disease, white powdery fuzz covers the leaves.

To solve this, infected leaves should be removed and destroyed. It is also advisable that the plants be sprayed with fungicide very early in summer.

Canker

Canker is also a fungus disease that causes the canes to develop brown or red spots with dark margins. These spots may also feature cracks and eventually enlarge to encircle the cane. This leads to the yellowing, wilting, and death of stems and leaves above the infected stem.

Since canker cannot be prevented or cured chemically, the infected canes should be pruned below the canker.  Sharp pruning shears should be used to cut at 45 degrees angle above the node.

Botrytis Blight

This fungal disease usually affects dying tissues and is usually common in older roses.  However, it can also affect healthy tissues, leading to the production of grey mold.  The disease can be controlled by removing infected flowers and good garden sanitation.

Mosaic

Mosaic is a viral disease that causes the appearance of yellow patterns of wavy lines on leaves in some rose varieties or leads to the stunted and weak growth of different varieties.

There is no cure for virus infection. Planters are encouraged to select virus-resistant flowers and to control insects that may spread the virus.

Crown Gall

This bacterial disease causes the appearance of rough, irregular, and dark-colored galls on the stems close to the soil line.  The infected roses will become stunted. To control this, the roses should be uprooted and discarded and the area should not be used to plant roses for less than 5 years.

Aphids

As one of the common pests, aphids feed on the young juicy shoots leading to distortion. Although these pests are controlled by natural predators, alternative measures include using insecticides, insecticidal soaps and strong water streams may be necessary.

Japanese Beetles

These beetles, known for their appetite and large numbers, are known to extensively damage flowers and flower buds, as well as the foliage.

It is difficult to control these beetles because they can fly and they usually re-attack the area. Solutions to the Japanese beetle problem include handpicking and beetle traps.

Spider Mites

These mites bore the rose leaves’ underside to suck sap causing leaves to turn bronze or grey.

Miticides, insecticidal soaps, and high-pressure washing will help control mites.

Thrips

Thrips will feed on the base and petals of the rosebud of open flowers.  Buds will fail to open and deform the flowers will be deformed. The best solution is to spray the plant with insecticide before the buds open and when signs start to appear.

Rose Midge

The midge lays eggs in the buds and shoots and its larva eats them, causing misshapen, bent, or blasted buds. Pruning buds and applying insecticides will help control this.

Rose Slug

The rose slug usually causes the skeletonizing of leaves especially in spring and early summer.

You can control them by the use of insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils.

Leafcutter Bees

As their name suggests, they cut oval/round holes from the sides of the leaves, which are utilized to shape their nest’s cell structure.

However, more significant issues can happen when they dig through recently pruned canes and stems. That will result in wilting. To decrease harm brought by leafcutter bees, cut out the injured tips few inches below the damaged zone and seal the cut with grating wax or putty.

The Knowledge of How to Take Care of Roses

You now have all the information you require to grow roses easily. None of the information in this guide is difficult to put into practice. Please now put this knowledge into practice and embark on a lifetime of the love of roses.

I wish you well in your quest and happy gardening!

Emily Tidy

My name is Emily and I'm a mother to 3 beautiful little girls and a fat tabby cat named Flick. I enjoy writing informative guides and lifehacks about everyday tasks and questions. If my guides solve even one problem for my readers, then I consider my mission accomplished.

Recent Posts