Complete Rose Care
Table of Contents
When you get home with your roses...
Care after planting
Tips for Great Cut Roses
Getting ready for winter
you get home with your roses...
- Water your roses thoroughly both before and after
planting. Soak bareroot roses overnight. If
you can't plant your roses right away, be sure to keep
them cool and wet.
- Prepare the site where your roses will be
planted. They should receive at least 4 to 6 hours
of sun daily, from spring through fall.
- Plant your roses as soon as possible.
|This chart will give you an idea
of average spacing, but roses will vary in size and habit,
depending on climate and location. Adjust for your
conditions - in colder areas, you may want to space roses
closer; in warmer areas, further apart. Use the closer
spacing if you mix different roses in a bed, and prune
the larger plants and cut blooms frequently to control their
Example: If a bed is 10' x 12' (120 sq.
ft.), and the suggested spacing is 24", you would
need 30 plants (120 sq. ft. divided by 4sq. ft. per plant).
|30" to 36"
||6' - 10'
|24" to 30"
||4' - 6'
||12" to 18"
||1' - 2'
||4' to 5'
||12' - 15'
3' to 5'
3' to 4'
2.5' to 3.5'
10' - 15'
10' - 12'
6' - 11'
|Ground Cover Roses
If you have stored your roses for a few days, soak the
roots in water again before planting. It is important
to give roses plenty of moisture to get them off to a good
start. Some growers ship roses with canes pruned to 8
to 10 inches long; when you plant, prune the canes back to
about 6 inches. This helps the plant concentrate on
developing the roots.
- Dig a hole 12 to18 inches deep. Make sure it is
wide enough to allow the plant's root system to easily
develop after planting. This will make a stronger
plant. Loosen the bottom and sides with your
- Fill the hole with water. It should drain in one
hour. If it doesn't, dig deeper and improve
the drainage - or mound the soil and plant the
rose in a raised bed. Work in one part organic
material - peat moss, leaf mold, compost, sawdust, or
well-rotted manure, to two parts soil. A pH of 6.5
is best for roses. Adjust if necessary.
- Trim off any broken roots or stems. Build a
mound of soil in the hole to support roots and to hold
the plant at the proper height, with bud union at ground
lever ( or 1 to 2 inches below in colder areas).
- Holding the plant firmly in place, fill the hole
two-thirds full of soil mixture and tamp down lightly to
remove any air pockets. Fill with water and let
soak in, then fill the hole with soil mixture and firm
- Your plants will leaf out faster if you mist the canes
with water as often as possible while they are getting
started. Roses need plenty of moisture, both above
and below the soil, to fully develop in their new
roses after planting
After soaking the roots and planting your roses in the
ground, mist the canes often until the plants leaf out.
Roses need good drainage - roots should never sit in water.
Soak the bed slowly and thoroughly to a depth of 5 or 6
inches with small flow of water. Sprinklers are fine
as long as the bed receives enough to water the top 6 inches
of soil and as long as the foliage can dry quickly. If
you do water from above, do so in the early morning so the
foliage has a chance to dry. This discourages disease.
To see if your roses need watering, scrape the surface of
the bed. If you don't feel any moisture and inch below
the surface, it's time to water.
It's important to replace the nutrients your roses take from
the soil through the growing season. Once your roses
are fully leafed out, apply a balanced fertilizer to each
plant, in a circle a foot or two from the base.
|Following label directions...
- Fertilize when plants are in full leaf.
- Fertilize again after first bloom.
- Fertilize 6 weeks before anticipated first frost
(but not after Sept. 1 in most areas).
- For proper hardening of canes for winter, do not
fertilize late in the fall.
Mulching is very useful for growing healthy roses. A 2 to 3 inch layer
of compost, ground corn cobs, straw, or
similar material discourages weeds, aids
water retention and helps keep the roots
cool during hot weather. Since
some mulching materials will take
nitrogen from the soil, replenish it
with a high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Cultivate roses as shallowly as possible, just breaking the
outer crust of the soil. This method will permit air
to enter the soil and will not injure any roots growing near
the surface. Never allow the soil to become hard at
any time during the growing season. If you mulch your
plants as described above, you should not have to cultivate
The best time to transplant roses is in early spring, while
they are still dormant. Prepare the planting holes in
the new site ahead of time so that the plants will not be
out of the ground too long. Prune the bush varieties
back to 18 to 24 inches to make them easier to handle.
Soak the soil thoroughly the night before, then dig the
plants with a soil ball attached and move them to their new
Spraying or Dusting
When and how much to dust or spray your roses depends on
where you live and the type of roses you have planted.
Humid climates can have problems with blackspot, while dry
climates with cool nights can encourage mildew. Hedge
and shrub roses generally need less spraying than
|Quick Reference Chart for Gorgeous
Time of Year
What to do
How to do it
|Start in spring when buds
begin to swell.
||Use spray or dust
regularly, once every 7 days. Apply fertilizer
around each plant.
||DO NOT spray or dust in midday, when sun
is hot. Dust when dew is on roses. Scatter
rose food around each plant, cultivate lightly and
|From appearance of first blooms until
hot weather begins.
||Use spray or dust regularly, once every
||If You Use Dust:
Be sure that both upper and lower leaf surfaces are
covered with a thin film of dust.
If You Use Spray:
See package for detailed instructions on how to
mix. Keep sprayer moving to keep spray well
mixed. Apply mist spray thoroughly from
beneath so that plants are covered with a thin film
of spray residue. See package for detailed
|Immediately after roses start to bloom.
||Fertilize plants again.
|Whenever temperature rises to about
80ºF. in midsummer
||Do NOT spray or dust except after
a rain or irrigation.
|When temperature is below 80ºF. in late
||Use spray or dust regularly, once every
|Six weeks before first fall frost.
||Apply last fertilizer for the season.
|Whenever is rains
||Spray or dust within 24 hours, continue
Roses are pruned to promote their health, vigor, and to
give them direction - to tell them how and where to
grow. Pruning gives the plants a shape, a style,
removes unproductive wood and provides good air circulation.
When to prune
The best time to prune is before new growth starts in the
spring, sometime after the last killing frost. Once
growth is 2 to 3 inches long, you should not prune, since
there can be significant damage from breakage. Fall
pruning is necessary only when plants are extremely tall, to
prevent wind damage during the winter.
Use any pruning shears designed for roses. A 2-inch
blade gives the best results, or use long-handled lopping
shears for larger canes.
What to prune
Weak or diseased canes. Winter-damaged wood, which
looks brown on the outside, light brown and dry when cut,
should be cut off 1 to 2 inches below the damage. Any
branch crossing or rubbing another should be removed - always leave the newest, healthiest cane.
When in doubt
As a general rule, if you're not sure what to cut, wait.
You can always make more cuts later when the bush has leafed
out and you can see its shape more easily.
How to prune
twiggy top growth by about a third so you can see the
structure of you plant.
|2. Take out dead wood,
canes, that cross the center of the bush, and any shoots
(suckers) growing below the bud union.
|3. Shape the plant by
removing some canes. You are safe in cutting back
to 5-10 strong canes.
|4. Cut 1/4" above dormant
bud eyes that face the outside of the bush. New
growth will come from these eyes.
These roses usually bloom best on two-year old wood, so
prune very little. Take out any spindly new wood,
older wood that is no longer blooming as well as it should,
and damaged or diseased growth only.
Treat as you would any hedge, shearing off the top third of
the plant, leaving the rest to grow.
Prune back by about half, to encourage new growth and keep
the compact, rounded form.
During the first two seasons, allow the plant's basic
framework to develop, pruning out only the small spindly
shoots. Thereafter: for a smaller shrub with larger,
better quality flowers, prune by one-half; for a larger
shrub with more flowers, prune back by one-third.
Pruning sucker growth
Any shoot that grows from below the bud union of a grafted
rose bush is called a sucker. These should be removed,
since a sucker will not produce the same blooms as the upper
part of the plant, and will rob it of strength.
To help reduce dieback and protect canes from borers, paint
the pruned ends with a commercial cane sealer, white
household glue or clear nail polish after cutting.
This is added protection against disease.
for Great Cut Roses
|Cut roses in the early morning when the
moisture level and sugar content are highest.
Use a sharp pruner or knife. Make an angle cut
just as the outside petals begin to open. Always
leave at least two sets of five leaflets on each stem,
so new flowers will develop.
Remove thorns and leaves which will be below water
level in the vase, and immerse in warm water. Re-cut stems under water. Add a floral
preservative to the water to make blooms last longer.
For prize winning exhibition roses, we recommend
disbudding. Pinch out the side buds while they
are small, leave only the top bud. This will
concentrate the plant's energy into producing fewer,
but larger, blooms.
your roses ready for winter
Strong, healthy roses are the most resistant to winter
damage. Leave the last blooms in the fall on the plant to
form hips. This will slow growth and help them go dormant.
Rake off and remove all leaves from the rose bed to prevent
Apply a dormant spray or oil such as lime sulfur to help
get rid of diseases that might return in the spring.
Even during winter, your roses need water to keep them
healthy and prevent them from drying out. If there is no
rain or snow for more than a few weeks, you should plant to
Hybrid Teas, Floribundas and Miniatures
Roses do not need to be trimmed unless they are liable to be
damaged by winter winds. Apply a final spray or dust
to the canes and soil surface. In severe winters cover
the crown of the plant with a soil mound about 6 inches
high, then cover the entire plant and soil mound with hay or
In severe winter areas, we suggest staking the canes to
the ground and covering them with straw. Cover the
base of the climber with soil, then tie the canes and wrap
them in burlap to protect them from whipping in the wind and
from drying out.
If winter temperatures in your area fall below 10ºF, you
should protect your tree roses. Remove the stake and
lay the rose down,. If the trunk cannot be bent
without breaking, lift one side of the root ball so that the
trunk can be laid flat. Cover the top, trunk, and
exposed roots with soil, and then mulch with straw.
Shrubs and Hedges
These are hardy plants, but if temperatures regularly drop
below 20ºF for extended periods of time, some simple steps
should be taken to prepare them for winter. You should
mound the plants with straw or hay as you would regular bush
roses. If they are excessively tall, trim them back a
bit to prevent wind damage.
Roses in Containers
If the temperature drops below 28ºF, move container roses
into an unheated shelter. Be sure they are not near a
window, where warm sunlight might start plants growing. Water lightly - enough so the soil doesn't dry out. Don't fertilize during the winter. When warm weather
comes again, put the container outside and car for them as
|Remove the protective covering from your
plants before they start to sprout again in spring.
Leave the mulch on until all danger of frost has passed.
|Very small insects, usually
green or black, mostly on the underside of leaves and on
||Thoroughly hose aphids off
foliage; you can also apply insecticidal soaps to
Japanese Beetles & Rose Chafers
|Hard-shelled insects which
eat various parts of the rose plant.
||Pick the insects off
individually, or use a biological control called "milky
spore disease," which is commercially available.
Leaf Cutter Bees
|Circles or ovals neatly cut
out of the leaves, wilted stems indicate tunnels inside.
||Seal canes with white glue
after pruning to prevent the insects from tunneling the
|Insects which enter the
cane and feed on the pith inside. Canes turn black
||Use multipurpose spray to
get rid of the fly that lays eggs; seal canes after
pruning to prevent further borer entry.
|Leaves turn yellow, dry
out, and in severe cases, fall off the plant. Tiny
webs on the underside of leaves.
||Hose the undersides of
leaves with a fine spray of water for 3 days in a row to
disrupt breeding cycle. An insecticidal soap will
also work well.
|Buds turn brown and do not
open, or are distorted. Thrips are feeding on the
||Control with a dust or
spray, following the schedule
above. Direct spray into opening buds.
|Leaves have black spots,
and will fall off if fungus in not treated.
||Pick off isolated leaves;
control with spray or dust. Provide good air
circulation and allow foliage to dry out.
|Rose canes turn dark brown
or black and die progressively down the stem.
||Always remove damaged part
of the cane, then follow a regular spray or dust
program. Avoid injury to the canes, and use a
sealer after pruning.
|Usually not a serious
problem. Leaves turn yellow due to a lack of iron,
nitrogen, manganese or magnesium, or a salt buildup.
||Add chelated iron to the
soil, or in severe cases, spray iron sulfate on foliage.
Apply a solution of Epsom salts and water to the soil
during the season.
|Tumor-like swellings appear
near the bud union, plants lose vigor and die.
||Cut off galls with a sharp
knife disinfected with alcohol. Paint pruned area
with a mild bleach solution. Burn diseased
portions of the plant.
|Leaves are distorted and
covered with fine white fungus growth.
||Follow a regular spray or
dust program, which controls mildew and leafspot
|Leaves turn yellow and may
fall off. Could be caused by poor drainage.
||Bad weather can slow
chlorophyll production, so wait it out. Add sand
to improve drainage.