Basic Tips for Maintaining Your Roses
A rose garden can be one of life’s great joys. Knowing some basic rules about maintaining it can keep it going for many years. The following information should help you on your way to having a healthy, thriving rose garden.
Generally, most gardeners prune their roses in February. Some will cut them back in the fall. Although it is advisable to cut some back in the fall, don’t cut them back too hard. This applies to standard roses, not climbers. Climbers should not be pruned until the spring season fully comes in. Even then, you only want to get the unwanted deadwood out, cutting the roses back so they’re “in bounds”, if you will. Climbers need the old cane, or established stem, from which to push off so they can then produce their flowers. Standard roses can be cut down to two feet or so in the fall. In early spring, cut them back again to between a foot and 18 inches, removing any deadwood, opening up the plant to help create some breathing room for new growth.
In the fall, dirt or mulch should have been mounded around the base of the rose bush to protect it against freezing throughout the severe winter months. At this point in time, that dirt and mulch can be cleared away so it’s not up around the crown of the rose anymore. Once the dirt and mulch has been cleared away and you see growth happening, fertilization can begin. There are a number of excellent, slow release rose fertilizers on the market today, which can last up to three months or so. You can also obtain rose fertilizers containing insecticides as well.
Speaking of insects, two of the worst enemies to a rose are Japanese beetles and Bores. Japanese beetles can attack roses in swarms. They can be fought off with regular spraying of insecticides, or through the more environmentally friendly manner of picking them off by hand, if you have the time and patience. Bores eat through the end of the cane, attacking the rose at its core. A good way to get an early start on keeping Bores away is to apply a little Elmer’s glue at the end of each cane, which prevents their entry. It dries clear, so you can’t even see it.
Using insecticides in your fertilizer helps against insects of course, but not necessarily against disease. Fungicides are also available to spray on your roses to protect them against the onset of disease.
Most roses need lots of sunshine, at least four to five hours of direct sunlight a day. If you plan to start a new rose garden, bear this in mind. If you don’t have this kind of exposure, you might try varieties known as “Ballerina” and “Penelope” which have proven to do well in less sun.
No matter where you are in the development of your rose garden, keep these tips in mind for their firm establishment and healthy growth!