How to Care for Roses
Ready to add some classic color to your yard with roses, but unsure which varieties match your needs? Consider how much yard space you can dedicate to letting your roses grow and how much time you’re able to spend nurturing your garden. This guide will walk you through the wide range of rose varieties and help you choose which rose is best for you.
Always look for robust plants with plenty of fresh growth. Steer clear of roses with withered stems or spots on the leaves, as these indicate the presence of diseases or pests.
Roses do best when planted in the early spring right as the weather begins to warm up, but can be planted anytime in the growing season. Try to avoid planting in the hottest summer months as intense heat could challenge the young plant’s growth.
Bagged roses are available for purchase in winter, and are heavily pruned and waxed to withstand cold weather. Rose bushes that are sold with soil in a pot or container will not be available for purchase until the spring, but they will last longer in your garden in the long run than those that were waxed.
Choose between hybrid, floribunda, shrub, miniature and climbing roses.
Hybrid tea roses are the type of roses florists prefer as they grow tall with minimum foliage, and have single blooms on each long stem. Hybrid teas are usually the type of roses most seen in arrangements, and can be kept alive in vases for several days after they’re cut. After planting these roses in your garden, follow a strict spray fertilization program using rose-specific products to help these blooms grow into their full potential.
Floribunda roses remain compact as they grow, reaching a max height of 2 to 6 feet. These roses are bred by crossing polyantha roses and hybrid teas, so they have the same range of colors and bloom structure as hybrid teas, but with multiple blooms on each branch instead of just one. Grandiflora roses are a larger version of the floribunda rose bushes.
There are many types of shrub roses, the most popular of which is the 'Knock Out' collection. The hardiest variety of roses, shrub roses come in reds, pinks, white, yellows, and some even feature a double bloom. They are hybridized to withstand diseases and pests, and don’t typically carry a fragrance.
Miniature roses generally stay under 2 feet and thrive in containers, edging and low hedges. These roses are delicate due to their stature, so always display them prominently so they won’t accidentally be pruned with other plants.
Climbing roses can climb anywhere from 8 to 20 feet on arbors, fences, trellises and larger mailboxes. As they continue to grow, monitor their progress and use rose ties to stabilize new growth and point the climbing in the preferred direction.
Always follow the grower's suggestion regarding how much space your rose will need. If instructions are not available, a good rule of thumb is to provide space that is twice the depth and twice the width of the root structure when planted. Rose roots really don’t like to be cramped, so remember that same rule when planting in containers.
Tips for growing vibrant, healthy roses:
- All roses generally take two years in the garden before really thriving. The same goes for any perennially flowering plant.
- Mulch: Roses will respond well to a layer of mulch or pine straw 2 to 3 inches thick spread over their root structure.
- Sun: Roses need plenty of sun. The more sun they have, the more flowers they produce. Plant them where they’ll receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day.
- Water: Roses do not do well when their roots are always wet, so do not plant them in areas that consistently get wet or that drain slowly. Water initially upon planting, and then once a week.
- Pruning: Pruning shapes rose bushes, removes dead wood that could be preventing additional growth, and can help the bushes produce almost twice as many flowers.
Take care in fall to protect roses during their long winter’s nap. When you properly prepare rose bushes, your healthy plants will emerge in spring with beautiful blooms.
Repeated freezing and thawing and temperature fluctuations can damage delicate roses. Safeguard your roses by applying winter protection, after the first frost but before the soil freezes solid.
Fall is the season to clean up rose beds and remove diseased foliage. In general, roses are pruned in spring after the last frost. Follow the old saying: when the forsythia blooms, it’s time to prune roses.
Preparing roses for winter begins up to six weeks before the first frost, when you stop fertilizing roses. As they enter their dormant season, let the roses form hips. This is nutrition for the birds and, as a bonus, the hips provide color and texture in the winter garden.
Tips to prepare roses for winter:
- Cut back really long canes (stems) to 36 inches to keep them from becoming damaged by wind.
- With the remaining stems, cut back by a third. Use hand pruners, and protect your arms with rose gloves.
- Snip off any remaining leaves, and rake up any fallen ones around the plant. Do not compost these leaves. Instead, bag the leaves and dispose of them in the garbage. Rose leaves often harbor diseases that can linger in soil.
- Water each plant deeply.
- Tie canes together with twine.
- Pile bagged topsoil or compost over and around rose canes 8 to10 inches high. This process is known as “hilling up,” and it insulates and protects the plant from freezes and thaws. Do not use garden soil.
- Cover the hill of soil with a layer of mulch, shredded leaves or straw after the first frost to keep the soil from washing away.
- Another way to protect hybrid teas and smaller shrubs is to pile leaves or straw in and around the canes, and then wrap with burlap and twine.
Tip: Gardening gloves made especially for roses have leather gauntlets that come almost to the elbow, protecting hands and arms from thorns as you work.
After cleaning up your rose garden, give your tools some TLC. Put them away clean so you know they’re ready to go when the weather warms again. Clean tools like pruners with a lubricant such as heavy gear oil and let dry. You can make a bucket of oiled sand to store tools. In a 5-gallon bucket filled with sand, pour in three-fourths of a quart of motor or mineral oil. Clean tools can be stored directly in the bucket.
A final note: Make use of downtime in winter by planning your rose garden for the next summer. Review online selections, research tools and study up on rose care.
Whether you need the right tools, plants or potting soil, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.