How To Really Grow Roses – 14 Things To Consider

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Following are some of the nuts & bolts of growing roses. There are of course many more details but the basics are presented here.

When your Roses First Arrive:

There are tips & strategies to help your roses along when you first get them. One idea is to submerge them in lukewarm water for 12-24 hours. If you have to wait before planting the roses, leave them I their original containers and lightly sprinkle the roots with water every 2-3 days (you never want the roots to dry out). NOTE: For best results, plant your roses as soon as you get them home.

Tips for Picking Rose Blooms:

This is one of the great side benefits of growing your own roses. After following the detailed steps below you’ll be growing excellent roses and may want to bring a few into your home or give tem away to a friend or loved one.

How To Really Grow Roses   14 Things To Consider

* Avoid picking roses the first year if possible.

* Only take up to 1/3 of the stem to keep the bush productive and shapely.

* Try to cut an outward facing bloom.

* If your rose bush is not growing vigorously, cut only the flower without taking leaves with it.

* Remove any thorns & leaves that are below the water level of your vase.

* Re-cut your stems right before submersion into warm water.

* If you want to ensure a longer lasting bloom, add a floral preservative to the water.

Note: If your are looking for prize winning blooms you can accomplish this on a particular rose bush by removing all side buds while they are small. Your rose bush will then concentrate all its energy on making the top bud larger.

NOTE: The following pages below will cover these topics on growing roses:

  1. Site Selection
  2. Soil Preparation for Roses
  3. Planting – Putting Roses in the Ground
  4. Weed Control
  5. Mulching
  6. Watering your Roses
  7. Water Drainage for Your Roses
  8. Organic materials for Your Roses
  9. Fertilizing & Feeding your Roses
  10. Pesticides & Fungicides
  11. Pruning Roses
  12. Deadheading your Roses
  13. Why roses won’t Bloom
  14. Winter Protection of your Roses

[1] Site Selection:

Choosing an ideal location in your yard or garden is important for any type of flower. The types of flowers you plant will depend on the region you live in, as well as specific circumstances in your yard such as shade or moisture levels. Roses basically need the following:

* Choose an area that is well drained (it could even be a sloping).

* Roses need from 6-8 hours of sunlight per day (morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal).

* Roses like lots of space without competition from permanent plants, trees, or shrubbery.

* Roses prefer good air circulation between themselves for best results. Examples for spacing between rose types are: Miniatures = 6-12 inches; Shrub Roses = 4-8 Feet; Hybrid Teas = 3-5 feet; Floribundas = 2-3 feet; Grandifloras = 2-4 feet; Patio Trees = 2-3 feet.

How To Really Grow Roses   14 Things To Consider

[2] Soil Preparation for Roses:

If you prepare your site adequately you’ll have an easier time as your roses start growing. Good site preparation will include:

  • Eliminating Weeds
  • Providing Good Drainage
  • Including enough organic matter in the soil
  • Fertilizing when & if needed

Roses prefer a general pH level range of 5.5 to 7.0. Most soils are within this range but if you are concerned there are kits you can use to determine the pH levels in your soil.

[3] Planting – Putting Roses in the Ground

* After site selection, sunlight 4-6 hours per day, etc…

* Dig the hole large enough around to easily fit the roses roots. Also dig deep enough so that the bud onion is just above the soil level.

* Next, trim off any broken roots or stems.

* Avoid breaking the root ball when placing your rose bush into the hole.

* After this, prior to back-filling in the hole, mix in some rose food and be sure to follow any directions on the rose food pack for amounts.

* Then, hold the rose in place so that the bud onion is at ground level, and back-fill the hole.

* Leave a slight basin (slight dip) at the base to help retain water.

* Finally, water by soaking the soil with the equivalent of 1-2 buckets of water.

How To Really Grow Roses   14 Things To Consider

[4] Weed Control:

You want roses to come back year after year but you don’t want perennial weeds to do the same. It’s bad enough having to deal with them one time let alone year after year. The bad news is that you will have to battle weeds in your rose garden no matter what. The good news is that it is a doable and easy task.

Steps for getting rid of weeds:

The 1st thing you can do is to rid as many weeds as possible on the front end of planting your rose bushes. You can do this by:

* By Hand- Physically pulling the weeds out and by tilling the ground (not too deep, just an inch or two or you will disturb hundreds of dormant weeds). There are a variety of garden tools for this kind of work.

* Chemical Herbicides / Weed Killers – Apply the herbicide in the area where you will be planting your flowers when temperatures are above 50 degrees. This can be done in the spring or fall.

Note: It will take up to 14 days before the weeds will begin to turn brown. Once the weeds are mostly brown, you can till the area.

Note: Some weeds are extra tough & aggressive. After tilling leave the garden unplanted for a few weeks to see if any of the perennial weeds re-grow. If they do, apply a second round of herbicide to take care of these.

Note: Time spent getting rid of weeds on the front end of planting your perennials will make it easier once you plant them.

The 2nd part to this is you will always have some types of weeds trying to enter your rose garden. This is mainly because you have provided a great place for things to grow & thrive. Get out your gloves and any garden tools you have to do regular maintenance.

Note: There are certain types of plant & flower foods that can both help your perennials thrive and help drive out unwanted weeds.

How To Really Grow Roses   14 Things To Consider

[5] Mulching:

Apply a 3-6 inch layer of mulch to your rose garden area. Mulching provides these benefits:

  • Makes your garden appear neater
  • Conserves soil moister
  • Retards weed growth
  • Moderates soil temperatures
  • Serves as a winter protection

Many different materials can be used for mulching including:

  • Bark
  • Pine Straw
  • Dry grass clippings
  • Various types of hulls

[6] Watering your Roses:

Roses are generally hardy. They will survive very dry conditions but will not thrive. For the very best results, keep the soil moist at all times.

Watering tips:

* For the first 3-4 weeks, soak newly planted roses and check them often to prevent them from drying out.

* Mulching can help to cut down on watering frequency.

* A very efficient way to water roses is to use soaker hoses. One method is to simply snake the soaker hose through your rose garden and just turn your faucet on (you an easily hide this kid of hose just beneath the surface under the mulch).

* Once your roses are established, soak the bed area every 7-10 days (especially during dry conditions).

* Avoid watering at night because it encourages disease.

[7] Water Drainage for your Roses:

Proper water drainage is important for your Rose garden because:

* Wet soil in the winter will kill your flowers. Wet soil over the winter kills more flowers than the cold temperatures because when the moisture freezes it causes all kinds of damage to the ground and your plants.

To ensure your rose garden has proper drainage:

* Avoid planting in low lying areas that naturally collect water.

* While preparing your rose garden site add plenty of organic materials to help create water drainage. Add about 3-4 inches of organic materials and work that into about the top 10 inches of soil.

* Raising your rose garden bed is another option when water drainage is an issue. You can do this with rocks, landscape timbers, bricks, etc.

To check water drainage:

* Dig a hole approximately 8-12 inches deep and fill with water. Let this drain, then fill it again while timing the drainage rate. A rule of thumb is if it drains in an hour or less your perennial garden bed has proper drainage.

[8] Organic Material for your Roses:

This is an easy step to miss when you are developing your rose garden and preparing the site. Organic materials will improve your soil and include such matter as:

  • Peat Moss
  • Leaf & Bark Compost
  • Mushroom Compost
  • Manure Compost
  • Other Compost

Organic matter improves the soil when added in sufficient amounts and depths by:

* Improving the overall biological properties of soil.

* Improves moisture retention in the soil (especially sandy soil).

* Improves nutrient retention in the soil (especially sandy soil).

* Improves the structure & aeration of clay soil.

Bottom line, a little extra effort in adding some organic materials to your rose garden beds will pay huge rewards in creating an extra beautiful garden.

[9] Fertilizing & Feeding your Roses:

Having the proper nutrients in your garden’s soil is important for healthy roses. They are heavy feeders and require 2-3 feeds during the season.

If over-fertilized, roses may produce excessive soft growth with very few flowers. This could also cause roses to “lodge” or open up too early.

If you test your soil to find out exactly what it is deficient in, you can get a customized fertilizer. This is generally not needed, however, and you can simply buy a general all-purpose rose food (follow the instructions on the fertilizer package).

Feed your roses with a high-phosphorus balanced fertilizer at least 2 times per year (early spring & mid-summer). If you are after even greater roses, feed after every flush of flowers which will be about every 6-8 weeks (do this from spring to mid-summer).

[10] Pesticides & Fungicides:

By selecting varieties known to be resistant to diseases in your local region you may avoid having to spray insecticides. You can also help by planting in sunny areas, water in the morning versus evening, and feed in the spring & mid-summer with systemic plant foods.

There will always be weeds, insects, and various diseases to consider. If you follow the advice throughout this rose gardening site you’ll vastly reduce the need for extra sprays. Here is a basic list of sprays to use for certain problems:

  • Caterpillars & grasshoppers = Sevin
  • Aphids = Malathion
  • Mildew = Benlate
  • Blackspot = Triforine or Chlorothalonil

Fungicides must be applied weekly for 4-8 weeks in spring and fall to be effective.

Mildew and blackspot usually disappear during hot & dry weather even without spraying.

[11] Pruning Roses:

Why Should You Prune Roses?

The primary reason for pruning is to remove old parts of the bush (old wood) that will no longer flower. This will encourage the development of young and vigorous stems. Pruning will also help in keeping an attractive shape to your rose bushes. The best times to prune are in the winter months when the plants are dormant.

Annual Pruning – Mild Climates: Your roses need to be pruned between December and February by cutting back all rose bushes to about ¼ of their height (approximately 18-24 inches – more every 3-4 years).

Annual Pruning – Cold-Winter Climates: In colder winter climates you should prune in the late winter or early spring (after the danger of frost). Plan to cut your roses back to approximately 1/3 of their height.

Summer Pruning: If your rose bushes get too big, cut them back a little to shape them but not too much. Your roses need plenty of leaves to help keep up their nutrient & energy levels.

Easy Steps to Prune:

1- Remove all the older dead or bad looking stems.

2- Branch removal may be required if the branch looks grey and dull. You can cut a branch off at the bud onion.

3- Any very thin stems, branches that cross over each other, or branches that are crowding the center of the bush can be removed.

4- If there are any shoots starting to grow from below the bud onion then cut those off.

5- Prune the remaining branches by cutting at a 45 degree angle.

6- Note: Rose bushes should not be pruned right before they bloom because rose bushes bloom off of the previous year’s growth.

[12] Deadheading your Roses:

This is related to pruning in that it is a process to remove part of the plant in order to improve it. Deadheading is cutting off flowers as they wither or do not look as good as you’d like.

Why Does this Matter? An old bloom may have been pollinated and may begin to form seed pods (hips, in this case rose hips). The formation of rose hips The formation of rose hips requires a lot of energy fro the plant and slows rose flower production. If you deadhead, you will allow your rose bush to put more energy into producing new flowers.

How to Deadhead:

* To cut the stem, you do so at a 45 degree angle just above an outward facing leaf (the high side of the cut should be on the side where the leaf is).

* To Deadhead, remove the rose by making a diagonal cut right above the next 5-7 leaf branch down on the stem. You goal is to cut to a bud eye capable of producing healthy growth.

[13] Why Roses Won’t Bloom:

There are a lot of basic reasons that your roses may not bloom. Some things are specific to roses, but most of the reasons are due to basic principles that apply to gardening whether it’s for roses or other types of plants. Here are some of the reasons your roses may not bloom:

* Rose bushes need somewhere around 6 hours of sunlight every day to be healthy. If yours are not getting full sun (partial sun does not count as heavily) for around 6 hours you may have issues.

* Roses need a fair amount of water and like to stay somewhat moist. They need about an inch of water per week during growing season.

* Your Rose bushes may need fertilizer. If you have not done this it could be a reason.

* Conversely from the point above, your rose bushes may have been given too much fertilizer (especially Nitrogen). Too much fertilizer can damage the rose bush or cause it to grow excessive leaves and stems at the expense of the blooms.

* It’s the first year. If your rose bush is new it may not produce too much the first year (be patient).

* The rose bush may have already bloomed. Roses that are once blooming varieties may only bloom once in the spring or early summer.

* Roses ideally like pH levels of 6.0 to 6.8. Your actual pH levels may be too high or too low. If levels are not ideal then the rose bushes ability to uptake nutrients is greatly reduced.

* If your rose bush has very few leaves (low foliage) it cannot produce enough food to grow healthy roses. This could result from too little fertilizer or some type of disease or pest.

* Other reasons could exist, but these are the basics.

[14] Winter Protection of your Roses:

A winter’s harshness varies from region to region with extreme in the North and more subdued in the South. The reason for making this point is winterizing techniques will vary depending upon where you live. Consult the Plant Hardiness Zone Maps to see how harsh your particular area is.

The biggest danger to your rose in a harsh winter is drying out in the wind. You also have the thawing & freezing cycles on the ground as well as the rose bush when winter temperatures fluctuate. There is the added consequence of your rose bush not being able to take in water if the ground is frozen.

Roses are basically hardy, but if you live in an area that usually has very harsh winters then you should plant varieties that are known to be cold-hardy. Cold-hardiness is not an exact science. The reason for bringing this up is because many catalog companies may say a particular rose is cold-hardy when in fact it may only be somewhat that way. Conditions can vary so much from winter to winter that you should treat each winter individually.

In the fall reduce the amount of Nitrogen fertilizer used. This combined with the lower temperatures will allow existing growth to harden off as well as slow the production of new tender growth.

During rose bush dormancy, the sap has left the canes and they are simply empty tubes of cellulose. By pruning too early before the sap has had a chance to run out of the canes, you cut some of the nutrients out. This is why you wait until full dormancy before fall or winter pruning.