Simple Tips to Grow Healthy Roses

roseThe rose is known as the “Queen of Flowers” and has been a symbol of love and beauty throughout history.  It was designated the official flower of the United States in 1986, playing an important role in myth and poetry from ancient times until the present. 

Roses come in every shape, size and color imaginable.  There are over 13,000 varieties available to choose from!  Rose petal numbers range from five-petal blossoms to full flowers of 100 petals or more.  Different rose types include climbers, shrubs, miniatures, Hybrid Teas, etc.  With so many options, there’s a rose that can fit any gardener’s need.

How to Make Rose Gardening Easy

Roses are among the most fragrant and showy of all garden plants.  Yet, many people shy away from growing them since they have a reputation of being difficult to care for.   Anyone can become a successful rose gardener if they follow some simple steps:

  1. Choose the right type – select varieties that grow well in your climate and are hardy.  Disease resistant types such as Knockout roses thrive more easily and have a long bloom cycle.  Other hardy examples include David Austin English roses.  They have a wonderful fragrance with beautiful old rose-type blooms. 
  2. Select a good site – roses need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and the soil should have good drainage.  Avoid placing roses in very windy, exposed areas.  Strong winds may cause the base of the rose to loosen which can damage the plant.
  3. Ensure proper planting – dig a hole that’s about 2 feet wide by 2 feet deep.  Mix compost and peat moss with the excavated soil which you’ll use to backfill the hole.  Place the plant in the hole so that the rose’s bud union is about 2 inches below the surface of the ground.  Add the soil mixture and make sure it’s firm around the roots. 
  4. Use mulch for protection – add a 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch around your roses to retain moisture and provide protection.  In late fall, mound some more mulch and compost around rose plants to protect them against harsh winters.  Remove the mound in early spring.  Also, trim tall canes down to 2 feet so that they’re not damaged by the wind. 
  5. Water thoroughly – the rule of thumb is to make sure roses get about 2 inches of water per week.  Deep soakings are much better than frequent, shallow watering.  Using a watering wand will allow you to water more precisely and deeply at the base of the plant.  It will also help keep the foliage dry, preventing fungal disease.
  6. Fertilize during the growing season – roses should be fertilized starting in early spring (when the first few leaves sprout) until the end of the summer. You can purchase fertilizer that’s specifically formulated for roses and follow the directions for frequency of application. 
  7. Prune regularly– pruning roses keeps them healthy and beautiful, preventing rotting and disease.   In the late winter, trim down roses to promote healthy new growth, using sharp pruning shears.  Also, trim away dead canes and suckers (small offshoots of the main plant).  When pruning, make a down-slanted 45 degree angle cut about a ¼ inch above an outward-facing bud eye (looks like a small circular swell above the surface of the cane). 
  8. Deadhead flowers – remember to deadhead your roses by removing spent blooms.  Deadheading encourages new flowers to grow so that your roses keep blooming into the fall. 

Give roses what they need and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful blooms and healthy plants.  For more information about rose selection and care, contact Floral & Hardy of Skippack at 610-584-0797.