Roses are fairly low-maintenance plants, although they do require some care if you expect to enjoy years of beautiful and healthy blooms. Once you've chosen a rose bush and planted it properly to start it off on the right track, routine maintenance shouldn't take too long. Here's how to maintain roses:
- Pruning. Most gardeners recommend pruning your roses in the late winter, while the plant is still dormant, to prepare it to bloom in the spring. Follow with a trim in the summer months to encourage the rose bush to send out more blooms. Never cut back more than a third of the rose plant at any time. Climbing roses and carpet roses have different pruning requirements than regular rose bushes.
- Remove dead flowers. Once the flowers have bloomed and begun to wilt, remove them by cutting back to the last five-leaf stem. Also remove any dead leaves or stems as soon as you see them, allowing all of the nutrients to feed the healthy stems. If you don't clip these parts off of your rose bushes, the plant will keep investing its energy by trying to make them grow.
- Feed the plant. Feed your roses at least once per month with a liquid fertilizer. Roses need significant nutrients each year, and they do not get all of these nutrients from the soil alone. A specially formulated rose food contains the optimum nutrient levels to encourage blooms on your rose bushes. Alternating between nitrogen fertilizers early in the season and phosphorus fertilizers during the blooming season will encourage plant growth.
- Water your roses. Roses need watering during months of inadequate rainfall. Roses in containers usually need more frequent watering than those planted in your garden. Either way, make sure that the soil has adequate water, soaking the ground at the plant's base to a depth of at least six inches. Do not over-water your plants, though, as this can make them unhealthy.
- Add mulch. Adding organic mulch to the base of the plant will provide additional nutrients and keep weeds from growing. In colder climates, mulch can also protect the roots from excessively cold temperatures by providing insulation and keeping heat in.
- Consider using pesticides. If you have trouble with pests on your roses, consider spraying or dusting your plants with a pesticide. This can prevent insects and fungal diseases from attacking your rose bushes. Plant pests and diseases are most common in damp or humid environments, but they can happen anywhere. If you do decide to use pesticides to maintain roses, read all of the instructions on the pesticide container carefully.
Healthy rose bushes are a beautiful addition to any garden. To ensure the health of your rose plants, you must maintain them properly, including a regular schedule of pruning, feeding, and watering.