Caring for rose bushes

Summer Rose Care

Roses are popular flowering plants in gardens throughout the United States. To achieve best results, roses must be given proper care during the summer months.


Roses will require watering during hot, dry weather. The actual amount and frequency depends upon weather conditions and soil type. In most garden situations, a deep soaking about every two weeks should be sufficient. The soil should be soaked to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Apply the water directly to the soil. Over-head watering wets the foliage and may increase disease problems. If overhead watering is unavoidable, the best time to water is during the morning. This allows the foliage to dry quickly.

A mulch around the roses will help to conserve soil moisture and also help to control weeds. Possible mulches include wood chips, shredded bark, pine needles, and cocoa bean hulls. Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of each plant or over the entire bed.


To encourage healthy, vigorous growth and abundant bloom, roses should be fertilized three times a year. The first application should be in early spring immediately after pruning. The second application should be made during the first bloom period. The third application should be made in mid to late July. Do not fertilize after July 31. Later fertilization may produce succulent new growth which may not harden sufficiently before winter. A general purpose fertilizer, such as 5-10-5 or 10-10-10, should produce excellent results. Thoroughly water the roses after fertilization.


It is necessary to remove spent flowers to conserve the plant’s energy and encourage repeat blooms. The procedure for deadheading roses during the first growing season differs from established roses. On a recently planted rose, it is usually recommended that the faded flower be removed above the uppermost 3-leaflet leaf. Removal of a large amount of foliage reduces the food manufacturing capacity and may weaken the young plant. When deadheading established roses, the stem may be cut back to a 5-leaflet leaf. Retain at least two 5-leaflet leaves on each shoot. Use sharp tools (hand shears or knife) to remove faded flowers. Cut about 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud and leaflet with the cut made parallel to the angle of the leaflet.

Controlling Insects and Diseases

Continue a rigorous spray program through the summer months to control insect and disease pests. Combination sprays, which include an insecticide and one or more fungicides, are available in garden centers and nurseries. Disease problems are most severe during periods of rainy weather. The key to disease control is prevention. Begin applying fungicides before symptoms appear and reapply as directed on the label. Spray both the upper and lower leaf surfaces to prevent disease infection.

While roses require more care and maintenance than many annuals and perennials, the results can be strikingly beautiful.

This article originally appeared in the May 22, 1991 issue, pp. 93-94.

If you’re an organic gardener then you’ll know that trying to grow healthy roses can be a tricky affair! Roses, although beautiful, are a notoriously sensitive flower which can succumb to all manner of pests and diseases.

It can be done though – after all, the Chinese have been growing roses organically for 5,000 years!

The secret to organic gardening is understanding how nature works – and working with nature to produce beautiful shrubs and flowers.

Here are 11 tips to help you grow the most beautiful roses without the use of chemicals.

1. Choose a Position

The first step to successful rose growing begins with choosing an area in the garden where they are sure to thrive.

You may want them to climb a wall or a trellis, or fit into a nice rose bed. Keep these points in mind when making your selection.

Firstly, sunlight is very important for roses – select a spot that gets six to eight hours of sun a day and has good drainage.

Secondly, adequate space is imperative. Roses need excellent air circulation to prevent disease and to ensure you have enough room to tend to them. Each rose bush should have a 3-foot diameter space to flourish.

2. Prepare Your Soil

Soil quality can make or break your rose garden. If your soil contains a lot of clay or sand, invest in topsoil and be generous with your homemade compost.

The pH of your soil plays an important role in the quality of the roses you will grow with the optimum pH falling in and around 6.5. Once you test your soil to determine the pH, there are a number of things your can do to either raise or lower the pH if necessary.

If you’re looking for a quick solution, you can buy a special product to alter the pH…although a natural approach is always better, even if it takes a little more time!

To acidify the soil, try adding an organic mulch – which is also quite beneficial for microbial life and improving the general quality of the soil. Use one made with pine bark, pine needles or sawdust. You can recycle kitchen waste here too such as citrus peels, vegetable peels or coffee grounds which all work wonders at lowering the pH.

To raise the pH, making the soil more alkaline, it’s often recommended to use lime to slowly raise levels over a few months. However, natural options like ground crab or oyster shells, crushed eggshells or hardwood ashes are also very effective.

Work these natural products into the soil quite regularly and make sure to monitor the pH over time to see if it is going in the right direction. Don’t forget to test the pH of your water too, which could be enough to throw off this delicate balance!

3. Picking a Variety of Rose

Make sure to choose a hardy variety of rose that’s right for your garden.

As rose bushes can vary greatly in size, you’ll need to consider the space available to you in your garden. If you want to grow your roses on a trellis, choose a variety from the climbers, ramblers and old garden rose categories.

Consider if you want repeat-flowering roses, which bloom from April to June, October to December and intermittently throughout the summer; or once-blooming roses which appear in April for three months or so and then produce few or no flowers afterward.

Roses are notoriously prone to disease, so picking a disease-resistant variety is imperative for an organic rose garden. The top 10 resistant varieties are:

  • Silver Ghost – repeat-flowering shrub rose with single white flowers.
  • Temptress – repeat-flowering dark red climbing rose.
  • Golden Gate – repeat-flowering, mid-yellow climber.
  • Cinderella – repeat-flowering, very fragrant light pink climber.
  • Lancashire – repeat-flowering, low-growing ground cover rose with unscented red flowers.
  • Buxom Beauty – very fragrant, mauve pink rose with large flower heads.
  • Champagne Moments – pale apricot flowers which fade to cream.
  • Red Finesse – mid-size shrub with dark red flowers.
  • Summer Beauty – full apricot flowers.
  • Caribbean Dawn – pink flowers shaded in yellow and orange.

4. Hydration

Once you have planted your roses, make sure to water them frequently, especially in the first few weeks.

Depending on the weather, you may need to water them every day. These picky plants need a lot of water – and sometimes even steady rainfall isn’t enough to quench their thirst during the summer months. Soil type will dictate water volume also – roses growing in sandy soil need more water than those in clay.

When you water be generous – wet the entire root zone. If the top two inches of soil are dry, give them extra water. Only wet the soil, not the leaves as this can lead to disease. If you think the blooms could do with a pick-me-up, make sure to wet them infrequently and always in the morning so they can dry out before night falls.

5. Organic Rose Food

Roses don’t just need water, they need to be fed regularly too. They are best fed in the spring, after pruning; while they are in bud; and in mid-summer – at least 6 weeks before the first expected frost.

While you can buy a commercially prepared organic fertilizer, it’s much healthier and more rewarding to feed your roses with your own homemade organic recipe.

These homemade fertilizer recipes will see you grow big and beautiful roses on an all-natural diet!

6. Pruning Tips

Roses are best pruned when out of bloom, which naturally improves plant health and keeps them nice and tidy looking.

Remove any leaves that remain on the plant and cut off dead or diseased branches. A good way to tell if a branch is dead (aside from it being brown or black) is that the inside of the stem will be brown instead of green.

Once you have done this, you can shape the plant as you would like. Make sure to rake up any leaves and stems from under the plant to cut down on disease and pests.

7. Mulching

This is one of the most important things you can do for the health of your roses, and is one of the simplest things too! Mulching prevents moisture from escaping from the ground and keeps the roses hydrated. It also keeps the shrubs’ feet cool during the summer, stops weeds from growing, improves soil fertility over time and gives the rose bed a manicured appearance.

Simply apply a nice organic mulch to the base of each shrub. It’s best applied after pruning (although it doesn’t have to be).

Organic mulches include grass cuttings, pine needles, wood chips, shredded leaves, peanut hulls, or cocoa bean hulls. When choosing your mulch, remember to keep in mind your soil’s pH needs, as discussed above.

8. Protect Roses From the Elements

It’s not just us that needs to wrap up warm and stay sheltered from frost, snow, wind and rain – your precious and oh-so-sensitive roses do too!

For those of you lucky enough to live in an area where temperatures stay above 20°F, you don’t need to do anything. Those who suffer a harsher winter should keep reading.

The last application of fertilizer needs to be carefully timed so that the plants will stop producing flowers by the first projected frost date. However, you should keep watering your roses until the soil freezes.

Once frost arrives, you need to add a layer of insulation around the roots. Mound soil 8 inches high over the plant base and water well. Cut back long canes to 2-4 feet high and tie them together with twine to prevent winter damage. Cover the canes with an insulating fabric, which you can remove in early spring once the frost has passed.

Make sure you read up on these 9 things you should be doing in your Fall and Winter garden too!

9. Keep Pests at Bay Naturally

Rose plants can be harmed by a variety of pests including aphids, mites, caterpillars and more. If you take good care of your roses with the other tips here, these pests should be kept to a minimum.

However, having a good homemade pesticide on hand means you can take swift action should you need to!

A simple soap-oil spray can be whipped up by mixing one teaspoon of vegetable oil, one teaspoon of liquid soap and a cup of water. Spray on leaf surfaces and stems and wash off after a few hours to avoid damage to the plant. Re-apply every five to seven days.

If aphids in particular are your problem, try one of these 12 organic ways to get rid of the little pests.

10. Tackle Diseases Quickly

The key to organic gardening is to prevent, rather than cure, diseases which may affect your plants.

Roses are susceptible to a number of diseases (too many to list here!) but two common ones are blackspot and powdery mildew. If your roses are bothered by either of these, act quickly before they have a chance to spread.

One natural solution is to add two tablespoons of baking soda into each gallon of soap-oil pest spray and apply in the manner outlined above.

Using roses in mixed planting rather than in dedicated rose borders will also lessen the chance of disease.

11. Keep a Colorful & Diverse Garden

By growing a variety of plants in your garden, you’ll not only enjoy disease-free roses and a beautiful and colorful outdoor space but you’ll attract an assortment of animal and insect life.

These birds, ladybugs and other predatory insects will serve to reduce the populations of aphids and other pests which can damage your roses.

These 20 beautiful flowers will help to attract bees to your garden (and here’s why we should all be trying to save the bees); butterflies just love these 30 different types of plants; while these 10 tips can help to attract more beneficial insects.

Fertilize Roses

Feed for Health and More Blooms

Grandiflora In Full Bloom

Roses, in general, are heavy feeders. They love to eat, which positively affects their health. Did you know that a healthy rose not only produces more blooms, but is also better equipped to ward off pathogens too?

Roses can survive without being fertilized, but they struggle. There are exceptions to this rule: Species or near-species roses that are used to growing in the wild and have adapted to neglect. Selections like Rosa Mundi, Rosa glauca, or the Hybrid Rugosas; larger ramblers like ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ and ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ can also fend for themselves. These varieties tend to be once-blooming, but are good choices for rose gardeners that don’t have the time or inclination to fertilize. But, anyone trying to grow repeat-blooming roses, like hybrid teas and floribundas, should fertilize regularly during the growing season.

Paul’s Himalayan Musk Covering a Tree

Rosa Mundi Bush In Full Bloom

Nutrients Roses Need to Grow

It helps to understand the basic nutritional building blocks that all plants need. Most important are the Big Three: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). These are the three numbers you see on all fertilizer packages, and are also referred to as the N-P-K ratio.

Without getting too scientific, if you can remember “Up-Down-All Around” you will have a good idea of how these nutrients operate:

  • Nitrogen helps shoots (above ground)
  • Phosphorus helps roots (below ground)
  • Potassium is used by the whole plant (like a vitamin).

More specifically:

Nitrogen (N) Promotes healthy vegetative, green growth. Nitrogen is a component of all proteins and because water washes it away from the root zone, roses require a consistent supply. It is needed to build chlorophyll and allows the plant to use light to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugars to feed itself. Too much and you produce lush plants with few or no blooms. Too little, and the rose will have yellow leaves, no new growth, and small pale roses. Phosphorus (P) Makes for strong roots and abundant flower production. Too little will cause dull foliage, falling leaves, weak flower stems and buds that will not open. Potassium (K) Also known as potash, encourages vigorous growth and makes sure all is in good working order. It is like an immune system booster that helps the plant through stressed times such as disease / insect damage, drought and cold temperatures. Lack of potassium will produce weak steams, poorly developed buds, and yellow edges on the leaves, which turn brown.

Roses need these nutrients too:

  • Calcium (Ca): Increases the strength of cell walls; enables a plant to better ward off sucking insects like aphids.
  • Magnesium (Mg): Crucial nutrient that promotes dark green leaves, intensified flower color, increased flower production, and can also help flush harmful salts through the soil. That’s why Epsom Salts (a form of Magnesium Sulfate) is a time-honored secret for rose gardeners. Apply at the rate of 1/3 to 1/2 cup per plant at the beginning of the growing season.
  • Sulfur (S)
  • Boron (B)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Zinc (Zn)

Choose the Right Fertilizer

So how do you decide which fertilizer is right? Is organic better than inorganic? The choice is ultimately yours, but remember this: ALL of the above nutrients are necessary for roses to thrive. Look for a balanced, high quality rose fertilizer that includes macronutrients as well as micronutrients. Roses make no distinction between the type of fertilizer they receive, as long as the nutrients are available.

Organic fertilizers include manures, compost, or other plant and animal products (alfalfa, bone meal, fish fertilizer, kelp extract, etc.).

  • Nutrient content is usually low, so use on a continual basis.
  • Better for the environment, builds humus and improves soil texture, and feeds soil micro-organisms. Healthy soil makes for healthy roses.
  • Price is normally higher for organics, but try making your own to save money (if you have access to organic material such as aged manure, kitchen scraps, composted yard debris, or lawn clippings.) Compost feeds the soil.
  • Fish Emulsion or Fish Fertilizer is highly recommended and provides an excellent nitrogen source. It is safe for all plants and will not burn the roots. Alaska Fish Fertilizer has an N-P-K rating of 5-1-1.

Liquid Organic Fertilizers Are Very Effective

Inorganic (synthetic or man-made) fertilizers are manufactured and make up the bulk of what you can purchase ready-made at the store.

  • They offer ease of convenience, and are usually more concentrated, and less expensive than the organic products.
  • They are available in a variety of forms, including water-soluble (liquid), granular, and slow-release.
  • They do not help to condition the soil, so they have no positive residual effect.

When to Fertilize

The rule of thumb for granular fertilizer is every 2-3 weeks during the growing season.

  • Begin fertilizing when you have 4 to 6 inches of new growth, and can see the first real leaflet with 5 to 7 leaves. Actual weather condition, not a specific date, is what matters. Potential risk of spring frost damage is outweighed by the fact that your roses are hungry.
  • Stop fertilizing 8 weeks before you typically get a frost, if you live in a colder winter climate. This will allow any tender new growth to harden off, thereby reducing frost damage.
  • Fine-tune your applications for optimum rose health. Liquid fertilizers are more immediately available to the plant and can be used as a rescue treatment for plants with serious deficiencies. This includes foliar fertilizers that are quickly absorbed when sprayed on the leaves.
  • Apply fertilizers with little or no nitrogen content later into fall. This includes bone meal or rock phosphate, which helps promote root growth and next year’s blooms.

Fertilizer Tips from the Pros

  • Granular fertilizers are generally hard for young plants to process. Heirloom Roses recommends the use of a liquid fertilizer on younger rose plants during the first growing season to prevent burning of roots.
  • Roses grown in containers should be fertilized with water-soluble or liquid fertilizers on a more frequent basis.
  • Miniature roses should continue to receive a liquid only fertilizer for the duration of their lives.
  • Compost and mulch can rob the plant of nitrogen as it decomposes; it may be necessary to increase the level of nitrogen to counteract this process if you use compost or mulch.
  • Your local soil conditions have a lot to do with what nutrients are available to your roses. In Oregon, for example, phosphorus and calcium can easily bind with other elements in the soil and become unavailable. They need to be added more frequently or in higher concentrations to ensure they actually get to the plant. In other areas of the country, the soils are more alkaline and may require amendments to adjust the pH of the soil to ensure optimal fertilizer uptake.
  • Test your soil if you follow these basic fertilizing recommendations, have corrected your pH levels (roses like a pH of 6.0 to 6.5), and still have a nutritional issue. A soil test should help pinpoint the problem.

Healthy Happy Roses

Finally, remember to watch your roses closely and they will tell you what they need.

  • A rose with iron deficiency will lack chlorophyll in the leaves and will appear yellow with green veins.
  • A deficiency in manganese will also manifest itself in a lack of dark green leaf color.

Corrective action should always be taken when individual nutrients are not available to the rose plant.

Remember: Fertilizers are essentially salts. Without adequate water, they can burn your roses’ roots. In fact, most of these nutrients cannot be used without water moving into the plant. If your roses are growing in high humidity or excessively dry soil, nutrient uptake will be reduced. Always water your fertilizers in before and after application.

Useful Links

  • Homemade Rose Fertilizer recipe:
  • Suggested Nutrient Levels for Growing Roses:

Today’s gardening tips address a popular favorite, rose bushes. And, if you think only expert gardeners can grow these beautiful outdoor plants, think again.

Rose gardening has developed a reputation for being difficult. As a result, many amateur gardeners lack confidence in their ability to grow their own roses.

Don’t let your fears discourage you. Follow our pro gardening tips, and you can grow colorful, gorgeous roses that are the envy of your neighborhood.

How to Choose the Right Rose Varieties

Hundreds of varieties of roses are available these days, with a wide range of colors, sizes and fragrances. These include antique and heritage roses, hybrid plants, wild roses – the countless options for each type are mind-boggling.

And then, of course, we must consider the different physical forms the plants can take. You can choose from miniature, climbing or shrub varieties, for example.

For the greatest chance of success with rose gardening, select plants that are suited to our Utah growing region as well as the location where you want plant them. If you look for varieties that are disease-resistant, you’ll have less to worry about. Some heritage roses, for example, offer extra resistance to disease. However, many of the modern hybrids are easier to grow overall.

The best way to select your ideal variety of rose bushes is to visit us at the garden center and ask one of our experienced associates for personalized rose gardening tips.

Consider Your Gardening and Growing Conditions

Selecting the right rose varieties can go a long way toward success, but planting conditions are just as important for growing beautiful roses.

Roses don’t do well in the shade, so you’ll need to plant them in a location that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Without enough sun, your roses will become spindly, they won’t bloom well and they will be more susceptible to diseases and pests.

Make sure to plant your roses in a rich soil mixture that has plenty of organic matter. Add some compost or soil amendments when planting. Finally, adding a layer of mulch around the plants will also help your roses flourish, as it will maintain soil moisture and suppress weed growth.

Give Your Roses Plenty of Attention

Roses need to be watered deeply about once per week to remain healthy and blooming from spring to fall. These plants are not drought-tolerant, so make sure the soil stays moist. Depending on your soil conditions, your plants may also benefit from periodic fertilization

You’ll also need to prune your plants in the early spring or right after they have finished flowering in the fall. Pruning creates air flow through the flowers, resulting in healthier plants. Otherwise, the plants become susceptible to aphids and white, powdery mold.

Deadheading, or cutting off faded blooms, is a gardening maintenance task that needs to be done throughout the growing season. Cutting the plants back encourages more blossoms and helps prevent disease.

Millcreek Gardens, located in Salt Lake City, is Northern Utah’s premier local garden center. Our plants, trees and shrubs are all selected for growing in our unique climate and soil conditions. We also have everything you need for planting and caring for your garden. Stop by and see us today for your personalized rose gardening tips and advice.

How to Feed and Care for Roses

Young, newly planted roses can be sensitive to fertilizers, but gentle liquid nourishment feeds developing roots and helps establish new roses. Feed young roses an organic, fish-based fertilizer, such as OMRI-listed Alaska Fish Fertilizer 5-1-1, to get them started right. Avoid using common, water-soluble, houseplant fertilizers on roses at any stage; the fast-acting, high-nitrogen formulas can burn rose roots and leaves, even on tough, mature, rugosa-type roses.

Feeding for Spring Growth

When established roses break their dormancy in late winter and early spring, their nutrient reserves need a lift. But always hold the first feeding until roses show at least 4 to 6 inches of new growth and a set of five to seven leaves. Don’t rely on the calendar; look to your roses instead. When you see this growth, you’ll know roots are able to process fertilizers.

For early season feedings, use a complete fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, relative to phosphorus and potassium. This means the first number of the three numbers on the fertilizer label should be higher than the other two. That number reflects nitrogen, the plant nutrient that encourages strong stems and leafy, green growth.

For an added advantage, give your roses extra magnesium and sulfur in the form of Epsom salt — arosarian secret weapon. These two nutrients, both essential to rose growth, enhance the plant’s ability to use other essential plant nutrients and encourage vigorous, healthy roots and flowers. About two weeks after the first regular feeding, gently mix Pennington Epsom Salt plant nutrient into the soil around the base of your roses, according to label instructions, and water well.

Setting the Stage with Buds

As rose buds show themselves and grow, the focus changes from stems and leaves to buds and emerging blooms. Help your roses make the shift by increasing nutrients that encourage roots, flower development and all-round health.

A complete, balanced fertilizer — with all three numbers the same — has equal percentages of nitrogen for green growth, phosphorus for roots and flowers, and potassium for overall health. Lilly Miller All Purpose Planting & Growing Food 10-10-10 combines traditional, fast-release plant foods with natural, slow- release nutrients to support balanced growth and prepare for blooms ahead, while feeding your roses for up to six weeks.

Follow that feeding with a liquid dose of Pennington Epsom salt about two weeks later. Mix with water, according to label directions, and then spray your roses — foliage and all. Work early in the morning, so that leaves dry well before nightfall. This helps prevent fungal diseases that can affect roses and other plants. Repeat every two weeks through the season.

A Simple Guide to Rose Care

Who’s it for?

These notes are designed for the new or novice rose grower and will answer the most frequently asked questions. Stick to this and you will find that rose growing is quite simple and your roses will thrive and give you many years of enjoyment. Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further advice.


Whilst choosing the right site, make sure your rose is kept outdoors at all times. Although some roses will grow in partial shade, picking a sunny spot is generally best. Never plant under trees, as this will lead to root dryness and toxic drip from the leaf canopy. If possible pick a spot with a bit of shelter from cold winds. Although roses like to be in damp soil, they do not like sitting in water, so try to pick a spot with reasonable drainage.


Whether to plant the graft union above or below ground is a much debated issue. We recommend planting so that the graft is below ground, as we believe it reduces the likelihood of disease and makes the rose more secure by preventing wind-rock, thereby reducing the need for canes. The roots may not move out of the compost ball in ordinary garden soil, so add some Root Grow™ to the planting hole.

Most container roses are bought and planted in the spring or summer months, though can be planted at any time throughout the year, so make sure you fill your hole with water before planting and allow it to drain away, to keep the ground moist. After planting, water again, to get moisture to the root system. If you are going to plant your rose into a pot* rather than planting out in the garden, we recommend the container be at least 18” in depth. Containerised roses will need far more food and water than they would in the open ground, so a bucket of water every other day is recommended during the summer months.

*We only recommend the use of Patio, Floribunda and Ground Cover roses for pots.


Newly planted roses will need far more water than an established garden rose. Water well and often. If a containerised rose dries out, the water will not be taken to the roots but will flow around the outside of the plant. If this happens, place the container in water and let the rose soak up the water. This will ensure the water reaches the centre of the rose.


Feeding roses is a very simple process and there are many ways you can get food to your rose. In our experience, folia feeding has proven to be the most effective way of feeding roses. The folia feeds we recommend are Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic™ and Plant Magic™. These are concentrated liquids that are diluted and sprayed directly onto the leave of the rose, resulting in stronger leaves and greater disease resistance. The other form of rose feed is granule feeding. The granule feed we recommend is After Plant Rose Food™. The granules are sprinkled and mixed into the soil around the base of a rose in order for the nutrients to be taken down to the roots through watering over a longer period of time. We recommend that you begin feeding your roses at the beginning of the season, when they start growing again, then again every two to three weeks to ensure continued flowering well into the autumn months.

Never feed roses in late summer or in autumn, as this promotes new softer growth which will only be killed by the first frosts.


A good layer of mulch ensures that the soil is kept moist in a hot spell, weeds are kept to a minimum, and diseases such as black spot and rust are suppressed. Many materials can be used for mulching depending on what is available to you. Well-rotted farmyard or horse manure are excellent, but do make sure that it is at least three to four years old, as fresh manure can burn the roots of plants.

Before applying your chosen mulch, make sure the ground is clear of diseased and old leaves and that you have fed and watered your roses. Spread a layer of mulch around the roses to a depth of 2-3”. Mulching is traditionally done in the spring, but we have found that once a month throughout the growing season is also very beneficial.


Pruning is a subject that causes rose enthusiasts the biggest problems. Much has been written about pruning over the years, but recent trials by The National Rose Society have made the subject absolute child’s play. The purists will probably stick to the old tried and tested methods, but the new or novice rose grower will now find pruning their roses a lot easier. All roses are very resilient and will survive however you prune them and will still flower despite your best efforts! However with just a little loving care and attention they will flower and thrive as if they were looked after by an expert.

Bush and Shrub Roses: Bush roses should be pruned down in the spring to half their height, remove all dead wood, and that’s the job finished, what could be easier?

English Shrub Roses: Due to the large blooms on these roses, it is beneficial to not prune them too hard for the first couple of years, let the stems mature and strengthen, so that they are able to support the flowers.

Climbing Roses: Climbers differ from ramblers as they flower on this year’s new growth. They should be pruned in the spring down to the height you require, plus remove any dead wood. This will promote new growth for this year’s flowers. After three or four years, start removing the old stems (one per year) towards the bottom of the rose, this promotes new growth lower down, so you get flowers all along the plant and not just at the top.

Rambling Roses: Ramblers differ from climbers as they flower on the previous year’s growth, so if the rose is pruned in the spring you will remove all the new stems and end up with no flowers. The correct time to prune ramblers is just after flowering, as they will then start to produce new wood for the next year’s blooms.


Once your roses have finished flowering, the spent blooms should be removed. If left on the bush they will waste energy by forming hips. If you dead head regularly the bush will continue to grow flowering shoots ensuring a good show of blooms well into late summer, and sometimes through the autumn, depending on the variety. Recent trials have found it beneficial to leave as many leaves on the plant as possible.

Remove the old blooms off to the first leaf, this method promotes the rose to bloom again faster and will also produce more flowers. Some older varieties of rose, and the rugosa roses, produce large and often attractive hips, so if this is the case for your rose, you may wish to leave the finished blooms on the bush.


Roses are very greedy feeders, which is why until recently, it was advised that you did not plant new roses in soil where old roses had been, due to a condition called Soil Sickness that arises when an old rose has taken all the nutrients and minerals out of the ground. To counter this, it was necessary to dig up the old soil and replace it with good quality compost mixed in with well-rotted farmyard manure. However, thanks to the recent introduction of Rootgrow™ into the rose world, it is now possible to plant new roses where old roses have been.


Unfortunately, like all living things, roses suffer from pests and disease. With a little attention however, most problems can be avoided. Aphids (Greenfly) are the most common, but need not be a big problem. Spray with a contact insecticide which will kill any aphids it touches, but as always, prevention is better than cure. Roses should be sprayed on a regular basis with a systemic spray which will enter the plant and protect it from the aphids and many other pests.

There are many proprietary brands of spray on the market so the choice is yours. Black Spot, Mildew and Rust seem to be the most common diseases, but once again, prevention is always better than cure. You can start spraying your roses with a systemic spray early in the season once the new young leaves have appeared. Spraying should be continued on a regular basis throughout the season, almost certainly avoiding many of the common rose problems. Use one brand twice and then change to another brand twice, alternating through the season. This system seems to work well and keeps our roses nice and clean.

If you have had a bad case of black spot, remove all the infected leaves and spray once a week for a few weeks with Rose Clear™, this will soon eradicate the problem. Cleanliness in the rose garden is all important. However, folia feeding your rose, which strengthens the leaves and rose itself against diseases and is much better for bees and other helpful garden insects.



Lack of Water: 90% of rose problems can be avoided if the rose is well watered. Roses need watering regularly throughout the growing season, regardless of rainfall. We recommend a bucket of water every other day, especially for newly planted roses.

Wind Rock: Especially in exposed areas. Due to loose planting.

Loose Planting: Tug the stem gently in spring after planting. If the plant moves easily, tread carefully around the bush.

Severe Drought: Especially in poor soils. Causes yellowing of leaves.

Waterlogged Soil: Too much water around the roots. Due to poor drainage.

Severe Prolonged Frost: Causes crinkled leaves with brown marks, protect the rose in open areas.

Use Of Fresh Manure: Burns the roots.

Hard Pruning: Too hard pruning repetitively every year on bush roses, especially in sandy soil.

Underground Pests: Chafer Grubs and Ants.

Planting Under Trees: Causes root dryness, dense shade and toxic drip from the leaf canopy.

Fatal Diseases: Rust, Canker and Honey Fungus.


Give your roses the best start in life with Rootgrow™ and within 4 weeks your roses will grow a mycorrhizal fungi root system which will support your rose for its entire lifetime. It is 100% natural and is especially effective when planting roses in an area they have been grown before. The granules attach to the roots of the rose, spreading out and giving the rose a wider feeding area to collect nutrients and water.

Rose Care


New Roses
For 2020




Our Simple Guide
to Rose Care

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Basic Rose Care Information You’ll Thank Us For

Ah, the lovely rose. Perhaps no other flower has reached its level of world stardom. In fact, humans have been growing roses for thousands of years. They’ve been used as medicine, perfume, currency, artistic muse, and of course, as symbols of a lover’s undying affection. With thousands of varieties of these plants available, they work just as well for cottage and formal gardens alike. See how to care for roses, from mulching and watering needs to pruning and deadheading, as well as rose diseases to watch out for. With our beginner’s guide to growing roses, you’ll be enjoying their magnificent blooms in no time.

Related: Growing Healthy Roses

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Where to Plant Roses

Start your roses off right by making sure you grow them in a good spot. Roses do best in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun a day) and well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter. If your soil has lots of sand or clay, it’s helpful to add organic matter, such as compost, before planting them.

Related: Composting in Your Backyard

Note: There are no roses that do well in full shade, but some varieties tolerate partial shade better than others. If you grow your roses in too much shade, they won’t flower as much and they’ll be more likely to suffer from pest and disease problems.

Related: 18 Perennials for Shade

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Pick the Right Rose Varieties

Roses are kind of like people: Each has its own personality. That means you can’t expect every rose to perform the same. Select roses that are best adapted for your climate. If you’re in the North, it may mean extra-hardy shrub roses; if you’re in the South, it probably means roses that don’t mind hot, humid summers.

Aren’t sure what roses do best where you live? Check with the staff at your local garden center or nursery, your local cooperative extension office, or a local chapter of the Canadian or American Rose Society.

Related: Award-Winning Rose Varieties

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Adding Mulch to Your Garden

Other than making sure you have the right roses in the right spots, mulching is the best thing you can do to ensure healthy roses.

Mulch makes growing roses easier for a couple of reasons. It helps the soil stay cool and moist longer during hot, dry weather, so you have to water less often. And a layer of mulch over the soil effectively stops many common weeds from growing.

Plus, mulches made from organic matter (such as bark, grass clippings, rotted manure, straw, or shredded leaves) break down and improve the quality of your soil.

It’s easiest if you spread mulch after you plant your roses. Most types of mulch work best if they’re 1 to 3 inches deep.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t mound mulch right up against the base of your roses. Leave a 1- to 2-inch-wide gap between the mulch and your rose stems.

Related: Different Types of Mulch

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How Often to Water Roses

Most roses do best if they get about an inch of water each week during the growing season, depending on your soil type. Gardeners with sandy soil often find their roses need a little more water than those gardeners who deal with clay soil.

You can help keep diseases from attacking your roses (and save money on your water bills) by watering with a soaker hose. Soaker hoses slowly seep water directly at ground level—and if you cover them with mulch, they lose very little moisture to evaporation.

Sprinklers can be problematic because they send water into the air. Wet rose foliage, especially in the evening or nighttime hours, can encourage fungal diseases. It can also be wasteful to water with sprinklers: On hot, sunny day, some of the water will evaporate before it reaches the ground.

For more tips on maintaining your roses, download our free charts on caring for roses month by month:

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Pruning Roses

In most areas, early spring is the time to prune your roses. Many experts recommend pruning your roses about the time forsythia blooms in your area.

Editor’s Tip: Exceptions to this include roses that bloom just once a year in early summer. Prune them right after they finish blooming.

Related: Prune Your Roses the Right Way

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Deadhead Spent Blooms

Deadheading, or cutting off flowers after they fade, helps your roses look better and allows the plants to put more energy into producing blooms instead of seeds.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t deadhead your roses if you want to enjoy their hips (fruits). Deadheading roses will stop them from producing hips. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears—clean cuts heal faster and attract less disease than crushed stems.

Rose Diseases

Roses are commonly attacked by a number of fungal diseases, including black spot, powdery mildew, and rust.

The best way to help your roses fight disease is to keep them strong. Make sure they have good growing conditions and ample moisture and nutrients. Remove dead foliage from your rose garden, too—it can spread disease.

Related: Stopping Black Spot

  • By BH&G Garden Editors

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