How to Plant, Prune & Care
Rose Care and Information
The first feeding of your roses should be done when the bush first leafs out. For the remainder of the growing season, fertilize after each flush of blooms. Stop fertilizing about 2 months before the first frost. Use a commercial rose food or general-purpose fertilizer applied according to manufacturer instructions. Scratch dry fertilizers into the soil beneath the leaves - but not touching the canes or bud union - and water well.
Mulch helps minimize weeds, keeps the soil moist and loose, and adds essential nutrients. Organic mulch is best - try wood chips and shavings, shredded bark, pine needles, cottonseed or cocoa-bean hulls, chipped oak leaves or peat nuggets. Apply in the spring just as the soil warms and before weeds start to grow. (Mulch can also be applied anytime during the growing season provided weeds are removed and soil surface is lightly cultivated). Spread 2 to 4" over the rose bed, leaving some space open around the base of each rose. Replace mulch as it deteriorates during the year.
Seldom can you rely on rainfall to be an adequate source of water for roses. The actual frequency of watering will depend on your soil and climate as well as the age of the plant. Try watering a few mornings a week - water slowly at the base of the plant, until the soil is wet 12 to 18" deep. Soaker hoses are helpful and prevent water from splashing onto foliage. Wet foliage is an invitation for rose diseases.
The best pest prevention for roses is achieved by selecting top-quality plants and properly caring for them. For more information about specific pests and controls for your area, check with your local garden center.
Prune to Promote Blooms
In general, most roses should be pruned in early spring (just after the last hard frost) before new red growth emerges. This ensures that the rose will have a good habit and healthy blooms throughout the season.
Old-fashioned roses and climbers that bloom only once a year should be pruned immediately after flowering since they bloom on wood from the previous year's growth.
Generous and proper pruning creates bigger plants and eventually more flowers per plant. Selective pruning of top growth can produce bigger, but fewer, blooms. Don't be nervous about pruning - there is no evidence that anyone ever killed a plant with pruning shears!