Roses are a flower that almost everyone loves (unless you’re single on Valentine’s Day) — but not many gardeners attempt to take on the flowers that many call picky or difficult. Even for experienced gardeners, some years their roses flourish, while others years they wither and die.
The truth is, roses aren’t always hard to grow — they just require the proper care. June is rose month, which makes it the perfect time to learn just enough about roses to become the neighborhood know-it-all. With these tips, you’ll be able to impress everyone with your knowledge of rose care. Read on, future rosarian!
Like pretty much all living and growing things, roses need plenty of sun. What does full sun mean? It means giving your plants at least six hours of direct and unfiltered sunshine. Plants sitting in the shade most of the day aren’t going to be able to make the food they need to thrive.
Early morning sun is great for your plants because it helps dry the dew. Plants that stay wet all the time may as well be a welcome mat for diseases.
Speaking of disease: Give your plants the best possible survival rate by picking plants that are already resistant to common diseases. There’s plenty of disease resistant roses to choose from and they all look different.
Some rose diseases may be more common in your area. Ask your local nursery which problems are most common for roses where you live, and which varieties are best suited to combat these problems.
One mistake that gardeners make with their roses is watering frequently but in small amounts. It’s much better to water your roses fewer days per week but much more deeply. Some professional growers suggest five gallons per week per rose. Sound excessive? If you live in an area where the ground retains water well, use less water.
Gauge it so your plants drink the proper amount of water, and they’ll stay happy — as long as you give them some drainage. If your roses have “wet feet,” they can start to fail and even invite diseases to attack the plants. Make sure your roses sit in a relatively level area that allows excess water to drain away. Avoid root rot, and you’ll be good.
Prepackaged roses may entice you into thinking they’re going to bloom easier and be less work. Unfortunately, these roses are probably lying to you (rude!) because packaged roses often have their roots crammed down in the container, where they get smushed or broken. Broken roots make for an unhappy and unhealthy plant.
Always try to look at the root system of a plant before you bring it home. If the roots look like they’re damaged or dying, chances are it’s too late for this plant. Even if you take it home and get it to grow, it probably won’t reach its full potential.
Bare root roses are sold as just a set of roots. Buy these when they’re dormant or just beginning to grow, and your plants have a good chance of thriving.
Some rose varieties don’t need to be deadheaded, but for those that do it’s important to know how and when to cut back. Roses should be cut just above the node or bud at an upward angle away from the node. Make sure you use a sharp tool and make a 45-degree angle. Do not cut below the bud, and do not cut into the bud. (Do not pass go, do not collect $200.)
The specificity of where to cut your rose stems is helpful when done properly. If you get it right, you can keep your flowers blooming when they might otherwise be dormant or put their energy into creating rose hips instead of flowers.
Roses want soil that’s nutrient rich but relatively neutral on the pH scale. Clay soil is one of their favorites. To keep them happy and well fed you can do a spring and summer feed with rose fertilizer and work compost into the soil annually. Mulch will help your plants retain moisture to keep them hydrated all the time.
Even disease resistant plants aren’t totally safe. There are a few things you can do to decrease your risk of inviting or spreading disease.
The right rose for you is a combination of personal preference, your hardiness zone and what your land can provide for the roses. With your newfound knowledge, you’re ready to impress all the neighbors with your tips on one of the most popular flowers in history. Or, give all your non-Gretchen Wieners friends a few flowers around the year.