Caring for Roses

The hardiness, versatility, and aesthetic beauty of roses make them one of the most popular flower varieties in the United States. There are hundreds of rose species, from old classic types to modern hybrids, and each kind of rose requires a distinct regime of care. This can be a daunting task for new gardeners, but the sturdiness of most rose plants make them an ideal project for novices who want to create lasting beauty in their garden. Here are some tips to remember if you’re thinking about growing roses this year:


Photo by slgckgc on Flickr.

Before Planting

Before planting, pick a plot that’s ideal for growing roses. You’ll want somewhere that gets a lot of sunlight (5-6 hours of direct sunlight a day, specifically) and has plenty of room for the plants to spread out. Roses hate feeling crowded.

If you’re transplanting roses, dig a large enough hole to ensure your plants have ample room to grow (15 to 18 inches wide is the usual recommendation). Apply compost immediately after planting for best results.

After Planting

Roses require frequent watering. In arid summer weather, you’ll want to soak them twice a week. Water deeply and avoid shallow sprinklings, which have been known to cause mold.

After watering, make sure the soil your roses are planted in provides adequate drainage. Roses do not grow well in standing water; the soil around them should be moist and loose, but not waterlogged. If pools of water form, you may be overwatering, or your soil is too compacted.

To help conserve water, apply a healthy layer of mulch on top of your plant beds. Two to four inches should do the trick and keep plant roots safe from heat during the summer.

From April to July, roses should be fertilized once a month. Early in the season (May and June), add a bit of Epsom salt to the mix to encourage healthy growth.


Rose bushes should be pruned every spring. Dead, decaying, or diseased plant growth should be clipped away with a small pair of lawn shears. Loppers can be used to cut larger growths.

Every rose leaf has a growth bud, so deadhead frequently to keep your plants concentrates on new growth. You should stop deadheading about four weeks before the first frost. Roses do not need to be pruned in the fall, although you can continue to remove dead or diseased growth to prevent pests and fungus.

Over winter, cover your rose beds with mulch, wood chips, pine needles, or chopped leaves to keep temperatures stable. If all goes well, your roses will be back in full form next spring!


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