How to Grow Roses

A rose garden can be one of life’s great joys.  Following a simple routine and basic maintenance plan can keep it flourishing for many years. Read more to help you on your way to having a healthy, thriving rose garden.


Where Should I Plant Roses?

The first step to success is selecting a suitable location for your rose garden.  Choose a spot that receives 4-6 hours of direct sunlight (minimum) for the day. 

How to Prepare a Planting Site for Roses

Prepare the soil with a good planting mix. We recommend working Bumper Crop into your soil. Bumper Crop Soil Builder can greatly improve the quality of your garden soil. It will loosen clay and other hard, compacted earths, improving drainage, planting texture, and aeration. It will help bind sandy or rocky soils to promote water retention. In all kinds of garden soils, Bumper Crop Soil Builder will make cultivation easier, provide better moisture absorption and retention, increase all-around soil aeration and provide a beneficial environment for micro-organisms. 


Next, adding some form of phosphorus will help to develop a sturdy root system.  We recommend using Bone Meal; once in spring and once in fall. It can be applied providing the ground is not frozen as a top dressing lightly scratched into the surface.  Bone meal will help to stimulate root growth and flower production.


Which type of Rose should I plant?

Choose a rose that is suitable for the site you want to plant.  You can use miniature roses for a border or mass planting, even placed among perennials.  Climbers can be placed along a fence line or on a trellis.  Floribundas do well in mass plantings or groupings of 3 or more.  Hybrid Teas, Old Fashion roses, or species roses can be planted anywhere from pots to formal beds to mailbox plantings.  We recommend at least a 16” pot for roses, with miniatures at least 12” in size. 

When is the Best Time to Plant Roses?

You can plant your roses anytime the ground is not frozen, although spring is arguably the best time.  There are some rules to follow when planting a rose.  Most always plant your rose bud union (the knob where the canes come from) at the level of the ground or slightly below.  Remove the pot or grower box before you plant being careful not to damage the roots prior to planting.  Lightly tamp the ground after back-filling the hole, and then water enough to allow runoff.  Top off with more potting mix or mulch, using shredded hardwood, cedar, or pine mulch.  Do not use peat moss as mulch, as it will likely dry out and shed water.

How Often Should I Water Roses?

Roses like their share of water, but they don’t like wet feet.  You should try to water early in the day, if possible, to allow the plant to dry before dusk.  Watering heavily at least once a week will help the plant produce more blooms and increase fertilizer productivity.  If you need to correct a drainage problem due to clay soil, use gypsum in spring and fall.


When to Spray Roses

Once your roses have developed a second set of leaves in the spring, you should start your spray applications weekly.  This will prevent the rose from black spot and mildew in most all cases.  It should continue until the first week of November.  We recommend Bayer Advanced Natria RTU for Roses and Flowers for an effective combination of insecticide, fungicide, and miticide.  This product systematically controls aphids, black spot, mildew, and spider mites. It is absorbed into the leaf surface and protects for days.


How to Fertilize Roses

Roses are also heavy feeders that need a steady diet of food to maintain their flower production.  A popular choice is Bumper Crop Rose and Flower Fertilizer by Master Nursery.  After the rose has developed leaves, feed once per month until the first of September.  No hard fertilizers should be used after this date to discourage tender growth before winter.  Roses can also be pampered by using your favorite liquid soluble once a week throughout the growing season.  It can be the popular Miracle GroFish Emulsion, Liquid Seaweed, or a basic 20-20-20.  This helps to fortify the color and substance of the flower itself, giving you roses that look like they're from the florist!


How to Prune Roses

Pruning is necessary from the time the forsythia blooms till late fall.  Reduce the size of the rose and remove all dead wood so you can generate new canes on which new roses will bloom.  The exemptions to this rule are climbing roses, which bloom on the previous years canes (called second year wood).  All that’s needed is to remove dead wood and eliminate weak canes.  Most hybrid tea and floribunda roses are pruned back to a height of 14”-20” in the spring with emphasis on keeping only canes that are healthy and larger than the width of a pencil.  If you would like a larger bush, remove dead wood and prune lighter.  One note, however, is not to use any pruning paint that has tar, asphalt, or petroleum base to it.  It will kill the plant by poisoning the cell structure of the pith (interior of canes) causing it to blacken and die.  You may use nail polish, orange shellac, thumbtacks, or even Elmer’s glue to seal the pruning wound.  This helps to deter sawflies and borers from drilling a hole in the cane and laying eggs inside.