Rose Planting, Care, Maintenance, Pests and Diseases

Roses have a reputation of being delicate and fussy to maintain. While this may be partially true, correct planting procedures will ensure that the life of the plant on the actual site will start outright.

It is important for a grower to review the basics of planting roses, even if he or she has done it before.

Basically, there are two different procedures that must be followed when planting. It will depend on what kind type of material has been acquired by the grower. Yes, the process will be different for bare root and potted roses.

Table of Contents

1. Bare Root Roses

A special technique in preparing material:  Remove the material from the packaging and soak it in water for a few hours. The soaking and planting time must not be too far apart. If the planting stage is postponed after the material has been soaked, it will lead to root growths that easily die upon exposure to air, frost, and even heat.

Planting Procedure

  1. Dig a hole in the ground. The hole needs to be big enough to contain the roots of the plant. If there are several roses to be planted, holes should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart.
  2. Put compost soil in the bottom of the hole. The soil removed through digging should also be mixed with compost. Manually (bare hands) do the mixing until a uniform consistency has been achieved. Put the soil mixture into the hole until a mound has been formed.
  3. Position the bare root rose on the mound. For warm weather planting, cover the plant material with soil in such a way that the bud union is exactly at ground level. If planting is done in wet weather, the bud should be elevated above the ground. 2-3 inches of elevation on the mound should work.
  4. Finish filling up the hole with soil. Air pockets should not be present anywhere near the roots. By patting the soil around the plant gently, air pockets are eliminated and this also gives the plant initial anchorage pressure.
  5. Put water into the soil. Let the water soak all the way through the roots. As much as 20 liters per plant can be used if necessary.
  6. Form a soil mound around the plant.  Make sure that the canes are properly covered as this will prevent them from drying out. The mound could be removed later when buds are sprouting out.
  7. Get the mound compacted a bit by a gentle stomping of your foot. This is done in order to keep water in and make the soil stick better to the canes and roots.

2. Potted (Containerized) Roses

A special technique in preparing material: See if the soil around the plants is too moist. Never proceed in transplanting if this is the case. Put the potted rose in an area where the soil’s moisture level will go down. Don’t leave it there too long to the point of drying up.

Planting Procedure

  1. Dig a hole in the ground. The process is the same as in digging a hole for bare root roses. There should be enough space for the plant’s roots and the soil ball that comes with it.
  2. Loosen up the soil on the inside part of the hole. This will give way to the easy sprouting out of the roots when the plant is already on the ground.
  3. Container removal. There should be as little disturbance as possible to the already established root system. This is done by removing the bottom part of the container very carefully and then moving on to the sides. The soil ball should be exposed at this stage.
  4. Hold the soil ball with one hand while the other hand loosens up some areas near the roots. This is supposed to give room to new roots that will appear after transplanting. A knife or even a small spade could be used to make some 1-inch vertical cuts on the soil ball.
  5. Position the rose plant in the prepared hole. Soil that was removed earlier should be added around the soil ball on the plant.
  6. Finish filling up the hole with soil. A soil mixture that contains compost could be added too. A soil basin should be built around the plant. A 12 to 18-inch diameter is ideal.
  7. Water the plant. The basin prepared earlier should ensure that water soaks into the roots. Mulching materials can be placed around the plant. This is optional as compost has already been applied earlier to the soil mixture.

Bonus Tip – If the plant has been grafted, it is necessary to protect and insulate the bud union. The easiest solution here is to cover up the bud union with a soil mound.

Plant Care and Maintenance

Roses are not that difficult to care for and maintain. Once the plant has achieved a level of stability after being transplanted to the ground and starts producing flowers, all the hard work will be worth it. Basically, care and maintenance activities revolve around irrigation (watering), soil fertilizing, grooming, deadheading, and pruning. So, there isn’t any complicated information or skills that need to be learned here. The information below should be sufficient even for a newbie rose grower or hobbyist.

1. Irrigation (Watering)

  • Purpose – Watering ensures that the plant’s roots get the right amount of moisture.
  • Frequency – The common practice for growers is to water their roses at least once a week. Of course, the frequency of watering will also depend on the weather conditions.
  • How to do it – Using a hose or water sprayer, soak the soil around the plant. The plant bed must be deep soaked every 2 weeks. Spraying (not soaking) the soil with water daily within 3 – 4 weeks after planting will ensure that the roses will remain hydrated and healthy.

2. Soil Fertilizing

  • Purpose – The use of fertilizer is aimed towards the active growth and superior health of the plant. It ensures that the plant has enough materials needed for foliage, flower, and roots production.
  • Frequency – Fertilizing can be started 3 months after planting. Monthly fertilizing can be done based on the circumstances that will be observed by a grower.
  • How to do it – A commercial 10-10-10 fertilizer or natural mulching materials can be used to fertilize the soil around the plant. If commercial fertilizer is going to be used, it is applied to the soil around the plant but not directly on plant parts. The common practice is to water the soil before the application of fertilizer first. There are also fertilizers that can be dissolved in water and then applied to the soil. Mulching materials can be applied on the soil surrounding the plant. A maximum of 6 inches of mulching material should be layered on the soil. Soil tests should be conducted before applying any of these fertilizers to determine actual nutrient needs of the plant.

3. Grooming (Cleanup)

  • Purpose – This is done to give the plant a neat appearance. Grooming also contributes to the health and improvement of the metabolism of the entire plant.
  • Frequency – Grooming can be done as often as deemed necessary by the grower. The presence of dead plant parts, as an example, is a big indicator for the plant’s need to be groomed.
  • How to do it – By using sharp clippers or even small scissors that are clean, parts that make the plant unattractive are removed. These could include dead and damaged wood, misplaced stems, and suckers that emerge from grafted parts. Grooming is different from pruning because its main purpose is to just make the plant attractive.

4. Pruning

  • Purpose – Aside from making the plant look good, pruning is done to limit the size, encourage new growth, and to improve the circulation of air (around the bush).
  • Timing and frequency – Pruning is mostly done in the spring. Dead tissue (wood) can be cleared away after the winter to encourage new tissue growth. The frequency of pruning should depend on the needs of the plant, or what you can see needs to be done. Usually, pruning once per season is enough.
  • How to do it – A clean pruning shear should always be used.  Non-negotiable growths should be cleared away. Cutting ¼ above a bud eye is the best practice. This will prevent the drying out of the said bud eye. Pruning practices vary widely depending on the kind of rose species. However, the instruction mentioned above is effective for all types.

5. Deadheading

  • Purpose – Deadheading is done to increase flower production.
  • Frequency – Frequency will depend on the appearance of highly matured, spent, and dead flowers.
  • How to do it – Cut off the flower using scissors. Never dispose of the removed flowers in the compost as it could potentially carry and spread disease to nearby plants. Put these in the trash.

Disease and Pest Management

Just like any other plants being cultivated nowadays, roses have this high vulnerability for pest damage and diseases. Growers and hobbyists would of course want to produce healthy plants that yield superior quality flowers.

It is said that through proper selection of species and planting sites, the right soil preparation, and diligent care and maintenance, healthy rose plants can be produced without problems. In fact, there isn’t really a need for a disease and pest management plan for a grower. Roses can be left undisturbed.

The need for the plan mentioned above arises only when the grower is concerned about the quality of flowers that will be produced. This is in case there are plans to supply the local market with it. Of course, hobbyists won’t want their flowers to look inferior.

Integrated Pest Management Program

The first thing that would come to mind when disease and pest management is discussed is the use of pesticides and other chemical agents. A grower must be aware of the currently implemented IPM or Integrated Pest Management program.

There are provisions under the laws that govern cut flower growers to follow the IPM. It aims to implement pest management practices that minimize the use of strong chemical pesticides.

Under IPM, growers are also encouraged to explore effective, human-safe, and sustainable non-chemical ways of controlling pests. A newbie grower or hobbyist should coordinate with his or her local cut flower association regarding IPM practices.

To simplify the task of pest and disease management for the protection of rose plants, a grower can simply focus on the basics of the system. It involves knowing about common pests and diseases and what simple courses of action can be taken. This chapter covers 5 of each category (pest/diseases) that are likely to be encountered by a grower. Also, read our natural pest control methods here.

The following should sum it all up for a newbie rose grower or hobbyist:


Rose aphid

  • Description: Soft-bodied and can be yellow, green, or black color.
  • Damage Done: Eat up young shoots of rose plants.
  • Solution: Remove manually by hand, spray with strong streams of water, or use commercial insecticides intended for rose aphids.


  • Description: Tiny, brown insects usually found inside the blooms of flowers.
  • Damage Done: Produces scratches on the surfaces of petals which results in deformed flowers.
  • Solution: Spray an insecticide categorized as “systemic”.

Japanese Beetle

  • Description: Has a hard shell with a metallic hue (either gold or black)
  • Damage Done: Eats up flower, buds, and even the foliage of the entire plant
  • Solution: Hand picking is the best IPM suggested solution but in the case of a large numbers of beetles, the application of Sevin is recommended.

Spider Mite

  • Description: The appearance is somewhat described by growers as miniature version of spiders.
  • Damage Done: Produce damage to the underside of leaves through pierced holes.
  • Solution: Spraying high-pressure streams of water to the underside of leaves every other day. In case of heavy infestation, a miticide is recommended.

Rose Slug

  • Description: Looks like a combination of a caterpillar and mealy worms.
  • Damage Done: Eat up the leaves, leaving behind only the veins.
  • Solution: Hand picking is the IPM accepted solution. The use of special insecticidal soap (for slugs) proves to be effective for heavy infestations.


Rose Rosette

  • Symptoms: Unusual shoot growth, too much thorn production, leaf and stem deformation.
  • Solution: Affected plant cannot be cured. Just dig it out and replace with a new one. Implement a plan to control (pesticide) eriophyid mite that spreads the disease.

Powdery Mildew

  • Symptoms: Leaves tend to get twisted and curled up. As time progresses, these leaves get covered by a white powdery substance.
  • Solution: A fungicide can solve the current disease and future disease problem. Provide an area with superior air circulation and sunlight as a planting site to decrease possibilities of this type of disease.


  • Symptoms: Formation of small black spots on leaves. Leaves turn yellow and fall off.
  • Solution: Firstly, prune out affected leaves and stems. Then, spray fungicides on the whole plant. Avoid watering the plants through splashes.


  • Symptoms: Stunted growth and weakness of stems and leaves. The appearance of wave-like lines with a yellow hue can be observed on leaves.
  • Solution: For mild occurrence, just dip affected leaves in a chlorine solution. However, if the disease has already spread to a large part of the plant, it should be taken out and disposed of in the trash (not in the compost).


  • Symptoms: Appearance of varying forms or types of cankers on the stem. Formation of black specks above the cankers on the dying stem is observable.
  • Solution: Prune out the affected area. Reduce plant stress by keeping it actively growing and with sufficient elements for development (water, air, nutrients).

Pest and disease management practices should be learned by a grower as early as possible. Keeping the plant protected through proper cleanliness of the area and the observance of ideal care/maintenance practices will ensure that it is disease and pest-free. Help in terms of information should be accessed from the local growers association or plant nursery.