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Growing Guides - ROSES

Planting and care of ROSES


Choose a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day. Good air circulation helps avoid diseases. Choose a location away from large trees or shrubs since these plants will compete with the roses for moisture, nutrients and sunlight. Roses perform best in a loose, rich, well-drained soil. Prepare the soil by spreading a three-inch layer of compost or peat moss onto the soil and spading it in to a depth of at least eight inches. Dig a planting hole twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough that the graft union (a woody knot on the stem near the soil line) is about one inch below the soil surface. Set the plant into the planting hole and fill the hole with water. Back fill with the soil removed when digging the hole. Spread a 2-3” layer of mulch on the soil to conserve moisture. Do not pile mulch near the stem.


Correct amounts of water are crucial to success. Before watering, check the moisture content of the soil. Pull the mulch back from around the base of the plant. Pick up a small handful of soil and squeeze it to make a ball. If the soil is sticky or muddy, it has excess moisture and needs to dry out further. Check it again in a few days. If the soil forms a ball but is not sticky, the moisture if sufficient and should be checked again in a few days. If the soil does not form a ball, it is dry and should be watered immediately. Lay a garden hose at the base of the plant and let the water trickle on it for 15-20 minutes. Your roses should be checked 2-3 times per week. A drip irrigation system can save a lot of time, but it is wise to check a few plants each week to be sure that the system is neither over-watering nor under-watering. Always avoid wetting the foliage when watering as this can cause diseases.


After the roses are established (during the second summer), they need highly fertile soil for best growth. Fertilize the roses with your favorite rose fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Do not apply fertilizer after mid-August, as this can cause a flush of new growth that may not have enough time to harden off by winter. Insects & Diseases: Be sure roses are growing in a good location with good soil. A healthy rose can resist damaging insects and disease better than a plant that is stressed. If disease problems affect the leaves, remove them. Keep the soil evenly moist and do not wet the foliage when watering or let soil splash onto the foliage since this can cause powdery mildew and viruses. Many rose growers follow a regular schedule for spraying their roses for insects and disease. Aphids, leaf miners, grasshoppers and rabbits are all common pests that feed on roses.

Winter protection:

After the first hard freeze around mid-December, cut the roses back to about 12-15” in height. Do not cut back climbing roses. Pile 8-10” of mulch or leaves around the base and center of each plant to insulate it from winter temperatures. After danger of frost is past in the spring, remove extra mulch or leaves from around the plant. Leave 2-3” of mulch on the soil to conserve moisture. Prune the bush to 6-8” high and remove the weakest canes. Prune climbing roses by removing dead, damaged or diseased canes early in the spring. If the plant is too dense, it should be thinned after it has finished its big spring bloom.

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