A pink rose bush outside in the sun.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

How to Grow Roses

Roses have been one of the most desirable garden flowers for thousands of years. Prized for its exquisite scent and wide variety of color and form, you should be able to find the perfect rose for your garden and keep it happy and healthy for many years! Read on to learn how to grow roses.

Knowing How to Grow Roses Starts With Choosing the Right Type for You

Visit any nursery or garden store, or look online, and you will soon be overwhelmed by the hundreds of different rose bushes available for purchase. If you have not previously grown roses, you will want to start with the easiest varieties for your garden. There are many disease-resistant roses out there to choose from.

If you want a low-growing rosebush, consider Magic Carpet from David Austin. You can plant one bush in a container, or as a focal point in a mixed border, or plant a grouping to fill in the corner of your yard to act as a ground cover.

Climbing roses are a great option in a small garden or as part of a patio planting. You can have them climbing up a wall or trellised beside and above an archway or pergola. Repeat-blooming varieties such as the deep red and fragrant Crimson Glory will provide color and scent all summer long.

Planting Roses for Success

Roses have a few requirements for healthy growth and beautiful blooms, so before you put them in the ground, make sure that you find the right spot for them and prepare the ground well. Plant them with a south or west exposure where they will get lots of sunshine. The only exception to that rule would be in hot southern climates where roses benefit from some afternoon shade. Except for the smallest varieties, give each rose bush about three feet of spacing.

Roses are also heavy feeders, so once you have dug your planting hole, add a generous amount of well-rotted manure or compost. It’s a good idea to mix in a shovelful of peat moss to help the soil retain moisture and a handful of blood or bone meal. Spread the roots out carefully, and tamp the soil down firmly, creating a shallow saucer-shaped depression to hold water — mulch with an additional layer of well-rotted compost.

If you are planting a climbing rose, install the trellis or support before planting so as not to disturb the roots later. You’ll attach the stems to the trellis as your climbing rose grows.

Watering, Feeding, and Pruning Rose Bushes

You will need to water your rose bushes if your rainfall is less than about an inch a week. Don’t depend on a sprinkler to get the moisture to the roots where it’s needed, as wet foliage is more prone to disease. Use a soaker hose to deliver water slowly and effectively, or fill that saucer-shaped depression around the bush and let the water slowly trickle down to the roots.

Once your rose bush has started blooming, you should use a liquid fertilizer such as fish fertilizer a couple of times a month throughout the summer to satisfy its voracious appetite. As frost approaches, stop fertilizing to discourage new growth that would be susceptible to damage in winter. In severe winter climates, mound up compost over the bottom third of your rosebush to protect it from cold.

The only time to prune roses is in late winter or early spring when the plants are dormant. Using a sharp pruning tool, remove all dead wood, and shape the bush as desired. You should remove about one-third to one-half of the last year’s growth before you’re done.

Rose Pests and Diseases

It’s not just humans that love roses; bugs and diseases love them too! You can avoid a lot of trouble by choosing the most disease and insect-resistant varieties available. Still, you should also be prepared to combat problems as they arise.

Aphids, Japanese beetles, and rose chafers are some of the biggest bug offenders for roses. But don’t be too fast to reach for insecticides that will kill beneficial insects such as bees. A strong jet of water in the early morning will keep aphids under control, while rose chafers and Japanese beetles can be knocked off the plants into a pail of soapy water. You can also use insecticidal soaps or neem oil sprays to keep insects at bay.

Rose bushes are also prone to fungal diseases such as black spot (Diplocarpon rosae) and powdery mildew. Both thrive in excessively humid conditions, so keep your roses pruned to improve air circulation and water the soil rather than the plant to avoid getting the foliage wet. You can keep black spot fungus under control with a spray of baking soda and horticultural oil.

Now you know how to grow roses, and you can never go wrong with roses in your garden. You have such a wide variety to choose from, and the scent and color of these flowering perennials will please you for years to come!