How To Grow and Prune Roses

Growing roses isn't as difficult as you may think. With careful consideration to variables like location and type of rose bush you plant, you'll have great success and big, colorful, scented blooms.

There are literally thousands of varieties of roses, and each one will have specific care guidelines that you should heed, including climate and growing conditions. These guidelines can be found on the care tag that accompanies your purchased rose bush, but you can also ask a professional at the nursery or your local horticultural society for tips. Even though each type of rose needs special care, there are some general rules of thumb to follow that are true for all varieties.

  • Sunlight. Roses need lots of sunlight; between five and eight hours of full sun per day is ideal. Morning sun is preferred to afternoon sun, since the early hours of sunlight will help to dry off any moisture that has accumulated on the leaves overnight. Lingering moisture can cause rot and disease in your plants.
  • Air Circulation. Choose an open site with plenty of air circulation to plant your rose bush. The free flowing air will help to prevent too much moisture gathering on the plant and will also fend off disease.
  • Soil. Well-drained soil that has been fortified with compost, manure, or peat moss is perfect for roses. Adding bone meal to the mix is also quite helpful, giving even more necessary nutrients to the roots and the plant. Add the organic matter each year, in the spring.
  • Watering. Roses need small amounts of water at one time, but should be watered frequently. Add water to the soil by pouring it directly over the stalks of the bush, and try to avoid getting too much water on the leaves. Again, water on the leaves invites rot and disease.
  • Fertilizer.A slow release fertilizer specifically designed for roses can be applied over the early summer months, although this shouldn't be necessary if you have good soil that is high in organic matter. Rose bushes generally begin their preparations for winter during the month of August, so fertilizer should be avoided after July.
  • Mulch. A healthy layer of mulch, about 2 inches thick, will help to keep weeds at bay and hold moisture below the surface of the plant to ensure that roots stay moist.
  • Insect Control. If you find that you have insects destroying the leaves of your rose bushes, you can use commercial sprays or insecticides found at your local nursery. Before taking this step, however, try spraying a layer of soapy water over the leaves in the morning. This should help to keep insects away from your rose bush, and the morning sun will dry the water quickly.

Pruning Your Roses

Successful gardeners will tell you that the key to keeping big, healthy blooms on your rose bushes is proper pruning. Pruning your roses isn't difficult, but requires careful attention to the way each plant is growing and thriving. you must watch for dead flowers, branches, or stalks due to poor nutrition, disease or insects.

  • Deadheading Flowers. Deadheading your rosebushes is the best way to ensure a continuous stream of new blooms. The term "deadhead" means removing withering or dying roses from the bush, which will in turn force the plant to create a new flower. This should be done by cutting the stem at an angle, no more than an inch above the node. Deadhead your roses often throughout the growing season, but not after mid-August when the bush will begin preparing for the winter months.
  • Basic Pruning. Prune your rose bushes by cutting back any diseased or brown stalks and stems, and any stems or branches that are growing much faster than the rest of the plant. Pinch off brown or yellow leaves often.
  • Winter Pruning. To help your roses survive the winter, a major pruning should be done in the fall. Begin pruning once the leaves have started to fall. Cut back the branches to a manageable length to avoid damage caused by high winds or breakage from a heavy layer of snow.
  • Spring Pruning. Once your rose bush begins to emerge from its winter inactivity, another major pruning is needed. Remove all dead branches and canes.

    If your rose bushes are more than four years old, you may want to split some of the widest canes at ground level. This will encourage your rose bush to sprout new canes, which will in turn create new flower growth.


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