Tips For Maintaining a Beautiful, Healthy Rose Garden

Choose, Plant, Prune, … Water, Weather, Soil, and more.

We'll be posting a collection of important tips for building,
maintaining, and enjoying your rose garden.

See our current compendium of of tips,
and check back for more tips as our selection is updated.

See our Selection of Roses and our long-time favorite and popular article on Your Rose Garden, an Overview

Watering Your Roses

For healthy, vibrant rose bushes, make sure that they receive between one and two inches of water per week. The best time of day for watering roses is in the the morning so that leaves, stems, and blooms will dry off quickly during sunny daylight hours, reducing the possibility of the development of fungal disease setting in or mildew developing, as can happen more readily when watering is done late in the day or in the evening, leaving bushes wet during cool, overnight hours. That is also why watering through the use of drip irrigation or soakers is preferable to using sprinklers.

Climbing roses that are planted next to a wall or a well-established tree need even more water as they are more vulnerable to drying out, as the plant's roots are likely to grow beneath such walls as well as much of the root structure growing under eaves and tree or bush canopies, depriving the roses of rainwater.

What ever the area chosen for planting roses, care must be taken to ensure sufficient drainage. Poor drainage results in soil that is constantly saturated, and that results in constantly wet roots which will eventually cause the death of your rose bushes.

In extremely warm, dry climates, there will be several months of the year with little if any rainfall and constant heat quickly drying out moisture from the soil. In such situations, regular deep soakings are necessary. Applying mulch will also help keep moisture in the soil for longer periods.

Roses Love the Sun

Most roses love the sun; the more the merrier. There are exceptions to every rule, and thus there are some roses that do well in shadier areas, but generally, roses should receive full sun for at least one-half the day. That same rose that does very well with a half day of sun, will flourish even more with full days of sun.

Before deciding where to plant rose bushes,, there are additional factors related to sun vs. shade to consider. One important factor is what is near the location you've chosen to plant your roses. Roses planted in the shade of large trees will generally do less well as roses planted in the shade of walls or fences. While it would seem that each location would provide similar sun vs. shade, the effect of other plant roots also affects your roses wellbeing. Mature tree roots deplete the soil of nutrients and moisture and cause the top to become compacted and dry, all serving to rob the roses to nourish the tree.

Plant roses in the shade of trees so long as they will receive sufficient sun, but first prepare the soil, and in addition to providing sufficient watering, make sure to cover the soil with mulch to retain as much moisture as possible.

Lose That Sucker

Do you ever notice branches on one or more of your rose bushes, that seem to be growing from either very, very low on the base of the bush or coming up out of the dirt surrounding the bush? It has lots and lots of leaves, but no blooms? That is not a branch, but rather is
what is called a "Sucker".

Most rose bushes, are actually grafts, where the variety that you have chosen has been "grafted" or "budded" onto the understock of another more hardy variety, usually either Dr. Huey or R. multiflora. The place where the variety you purchased was budded onto the understock of the other plant is the knot or “bud union”. Canes grow up from above the bud onion, producing leaves, thorns, and blooms, and roots grow down from below the bud onion, pulling nourishment and moisture from the soil.

At times, the understock will produce canes that grow up instead of down, popping through the soil and looking to all the world just like those "real" bloom-producing canes you paid for and toiled over. But they do not produce flowers. Rather, they only deplete the nutrients and
moisture the roots work so hard to supply to the real canes. If left alone, suckers can kill the plant.

So, when you see suckers breaking through the ground, they need to be removed. This is done by digging down into the earth to find the spot on the understock where they begin growing, and cut them off at that spot, as close as possible to the plant.

Think Twice Before Spraying - Don't Kill the Good Bugs

Indiscriminate use of pesticides can be dangerous to a wide variety of living organisms. The toxins in such products are dangerous to humans, to pets, to stray animals, to "good" bugs that you want and need in your garden, and in many cases, to your plants themselves. Almost always, as far as a home garden is concerned, bug problems will resolve themselves without human intervention, or at least without the introduction of poisons.

One of the most common "bad" bug outbreaks found among rose gardens is that of
an aphid infestation. But, aphids are not all bad - they are the meal of choice for beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, and well as a food source for many birds. Upon finding an aphid outbreak, ask whether or not they are truly a threat to your roses, and what is the best plan of action? If lady bugs are also present in your garden, it is likely that more and more ladybugs will find their way to your aphid buffet, and in a few days, the aphids will be gone, and once their food supply is depleted, the ladybugs will likely also move on.

If you do have an aphid problem but no ladybugs are to be seen, a package of ladybugs can be purchased to introduce into your garden. They will stay so long as their are aphids for them to eat.

There are many other types of bugs, such as spit bugs, that may be unattractive, but that do no
harm to your plants. There is no actual need to use a dangerous pesticide that is much more harmful than the bugs themselves.

If you do have an infestation of problem insects and feel the need to spray with a pesticide, then do your spraying when it is cool, either in the early morning or in the evening, as the hot sun beating down on freshly sprayed leaves can do considerable damage to the plant. Also it is a good idea to plan ahead, and provide your plants a good watering the day before spraying. Finally, do not spray when it is windy, as your pesticide will end up everywhere - including all over you - but where you want it.

Planting Roses That Come in a Pulp Pot

Roses and other plants are now often times sold in pulp pots, also referred to as fiber pots, which are made from pressed paper, are supposedly made so that the plant can remain in the pot and planted into the ground, pot and all. Differences of opinion in the world of roses exist as to whether or not this is a good idea.

Some rose experts say that regardless of the instructions on the pot's label telling you that you can, that you should, and how to, plant the plant in the pot, don't. They say such things as that the fiber will not disintegrate quickly enough for the roots of the rose to push through the bottom and instead mat at the base of the pot and start growing around and around in circles.

Nevertheless, large numbers of roses are sold in such pots, and a large percentage of those are planted, pot and all.But, to do so, there are some rules that should be followed:
  • After choosing your desired spot for planting, dig a hole twice as wide as the pot so there will be plenty of loose dirt around the plant
  • Don not leave the bottom of the pulp pot intact - cut a large "X" in the bottom, and cut four slices up the sides of the pot, equal distances apart, so the roots will have not have to expend energy breaking through while waiting for the pot to disintegrate
  • If the ground soil is dry, before planting your pot, fill the hole with water and allow it to fully drain. Place the pot into the hole at a height that makes the dirt in the pot even with the dirt around the pot, and then cut off the lip of the pot, and replace ground soil around the pot
  • Water

Keeping Track of Whose Who is in Your Rose Garden

Don't lose track of just who is who in your rose garden, especially if you are continually adding new plants. There are two complementary methods you should be doing to make sure that you, and visitors to your garden, know the identity of your precious rose bushes:

1. Use a marker for each plant. Most quality nurseries sell rose bushes with a metal tag that identifies the name of the plant. However, after a few years, these tags will break, and some might rust. There are many types of plant tags on the market, but the best to use to
replace that tag are zinc tags that stand the test of time. Many manufacturers provide a set of zinc tags along with a carbon pencil with which you can write the name of the plant and that forms a permanent bond. Other types of metal tags are on the market, but most of them require an electric engraver to add the plant's name. Plastic rose markers are also available, and you can quickly and easily write the plant's ID on a label in ink and attach it to the marker, but plastic markers have a short life expectancy. Also, don't wait for the original tag to disappear or become unreadable - add your quality zinc tags right after your rose bush is securely in the ground.

2. Even the best quality tags or markers can disappear or fade or break, so consider a back-up that has its own benefits - draw a rose map, showing the location of the plants in your garden,
and include the names of each of your rose bushes. For those of you with large rose gardens, this is indispensable, and if you have frequent visitors, you can even make copies so they will know exactly what varieties they are enjoying.

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