The greatest gift for all occasions is a gorgeous bouquet of fresh-cut roses. Some of us use services like Enjoy Flowers to find the best to give to those we love… And others of us grow our very own in our gardens.
So you decide to plant your own roses in the perfect spot, where they get the ideal 6-8 hours of sunlight… But then what? Aren’t they notoriously difficult to grow? No, they really aren’t! Taking care of a garden rose is not much different to taking care of any other living thing… Water, food, the right environment, vitamins, health checks and loving care and your roses will bloom with the best of them!
Tips for taking care of your garden roses
Water with care
How often to water
Water roses once a week in temperate climates. But the soil will tell you when you need to add water. Check it with your fingers… It should always be slightly moist, rich and loose – not wet and never dry. Your soil must have good drainage for your flowers to survive and thrive.
How much to water
Keeping in mind the soil checks above, your rose bushes need between 1 and 2 inches of water a week.
How to water
Roses need a slow deep soak at root level once a week, or twice a week if you are having a dry summer. Staying low to the ground is critical, because getting the leaves and stems wet can lead to disease such as powdery mildew and black spot.
Invest in a soaker hose. Plant Care Today gives the best description of a soaker hose…”The hose allows water to slowly seep out through tiny pores along the length of the rubber hose at a flow rate the ground and plants can absorb providing the right moisture content. The water goes right to the root zone with very low water pressure.” The perfect companion for your roses.
Feeding your roses
Roses need a consistent supply of nutrients to grow healthily. The main nutrients they need are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium… In spring, when they are ready to bloom, add a dash of magnesium sulfate! To do this, dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom sale in a gallon of water. The magnesium sulfate will encourage new growth from the bottom of the plant. Roses that bloom continuously need fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. Some roses only bloom in spring, so fertilizing once in early spring may be enough… You can always fertilize again if they aren’t green enough!
Fertilizer feeds your plants.
When choosing fertilizer to feed your roses, make sure there is an abundance of the nutrients needed. You can use any fertilizer, as long as you follow the instructions on it carefully. Granular fertilizer is easy to use and doesn’t need mixing. Water soluble fertilizers reach roots quickly, but you may have to apply it more often. Time release fertilizers are convenient, but they may not supply enough nutrients and you will need to supplement with granular fertilizers. Stop fertilizing 6 weeks before the first fall frost but continue watering during dry fall weather to help keep plants healthy during a dry winter.
Compost feeds the soil
Your roses depend on the health of your soil to thrive, and compost enriches your soil. Compost is decomposing organic matter, which is rich in nutrients. You should add compost once a year in the fall. It will decompose slowly, releasing nutrients into the soil and create the perfect soil for the blooming season in spring.
Protecting your roses
You protect your roses with mulch, which is a layer of 2-3 inches pf organic materials that you put on top of the soil. It conserves water and keeps away weeds, and also absorbs rain and water, preventing splashing onto the lower part of your planes and preventing illness. In addition, mulch feeds the soil as it breaks down over time. As you can imagine, using a layer of compost as your first layer of mulch does amazing things for your flowers. Add your mulch in mid- to late spring, once the soil has begun to warm.
Pruning your roses
In early spring, you need to cut back your roses, ensuring you remove all dead and damaged stems, leaves and flowers. Don’t worry about killing them by over-pruning, this is nearly impossible! After cutting all dead or brown stems, cut around a third of the previous year’s growth until the centres are healthy and white.
Have you heard of deadheading?
Deadheading is simply cutting off fading or dead flowers to encourage the plant to grow fresh flowers. Garden Design suggests you “cut back below the first five-leaflet stem to promote regrowth”. You should stop deadheading 3 – 4 weeks before the first hard frost… You don’t want to encourage new shoots when they could get damaged by the cold.
Keeping your roses healthy
Try to choose a disease-resistant variety of rose, they are bred to resist the most common sicknesses. Keep your roses healthy by cleaning up debris, weeds, fallen leaves and any diseased plant material as soon as possible. Mulching can also prevent issues by preventing splashback onto the plant, which causes mildew and black spot.
Keep an eye out for curled or twisted leaves, or white powdery fluff on the leaves. Also watch for insects. You can spray certain fungicides and insecticides to protect your plants, but contact a local nursery about which sprays are approved in your state.
Many rose growers believe that talking or playing music to the plants encourage their growth. It surely can’t hurt to relax among your roses and play some relaxing music…