GENERAL INFORMATION: Centuries after their introduction, roses remain a garden staple for their lush, fragrant, delicate flowers. Growing roses requires interest and some commitment to specialized care. For greater detail, many books exist to fill in the blanks left by this Care Guide.

COMMON TYPES: The following list highlights common rose types and their attributes.

  • Hybrid Teas: Typically one bloom per stem, continuous bloom, 4 to 6 feet tall and wide with open habit.
  • Floribundas: Also known as Landscape Roses. Most prolific bloomers. Flowers borne in large clusters, continuous bloom, 3 to 5 feet tall and wide with shrubby, compact habit. Polyanthus are similar to Floribundas but with more flowers and a more lacy growth pattern.
  • Grandifloras: Flower like floribundas, continuous bloom, 6 to 8 feet tall and wide.
  • Miniatures: Tiny flower in a Floribunda or Hybrid Tea pattern, continuous bloom, 1 to 2 feet tall and wide.
  • Climbers: Continuous bloom (with exceptions, e.g., Cecile Brunner), canes to 40 feet long. Ramblers bloom in spring, sporadically through summer.
  • Shrubs: Diverse group, includes Meidiland roses: continuous bloom, good disease resistance, sprawling habit; fragrant. Sizes vary.
  • Tree Roses and Patio Trees: Typically Hybrid Tea, Floribunda or Miniature roses grafted onto trunk stalks at 18 inches, 2 foot, 4 foot, or 6 foot heights.
  • Carpet Roses: Continuous bloom, 12 to 18 inches high; growth similar to a climber, flowers single or in clusters, roots where stem touches soil, disease resistant.

LOCATION: The number one consideration in planting roses is light. At least 6 hours of direct sunlight is necessary. Not only will this encourage maximum bloom, it will help moisture evaporate more quickly, thereby warding off problems associated with dampness and humidity. To further reduce problems with foliar diseases, plant roses where air circulates freely, but not in the path of regular, strong winds. Spacing roses 4 to 5 feet apart will also aid air circulation. Avoid planting where roots of trees or shrubs will steal water and nutrients intended for roses.

WATER: During the growing season, roses need regular, deep watering, such that water penetrates the soil about 18 inches deep. Well-established plants need 5 to 10 gallons of water every 4 to 6 days in summer, and new plants need 3 gallons of water every 3 days or so. Building a basin around roses at planting provides a simple way to water. Basin irrigation with bubblers minimizes the amount of moisture held on foliage, reducing the incidence of black spot and rust. Overhead sprinklers, on the other hand, neutralize powdery mildew spores and provide partial control for aphids and spider mites. They also remove spray residues, leave mineral deposits on foliage and encourage black spot and rust by keeping foliage and atmosphere damp. If you sprinkle, do it early in the day to be sure foliage dries by nightfall. If you irrigate in basins, spray plants with water occasionally.

SOIL AND PLANTING: Roses prefer slightly acidic soils, best achieved by using acidic soil amendments at planting and mulching yearly with acidic materials. To plant, dig a hole about 2 feet wide and deep and incorporate one-third Gardner & Bloom Rose Planting Mix or Gold Rush or Bumper Crop with your native soil. Add Master Nursery Master Start to this soil, then create a cone shaped mound at the bottom of the hole and drape the rootball over it, keeping the graft union or crown of the rose at least 1 to 2 inches above ground soil level then backfill with the soil mix. Build basin at this time and water in well. To mulch, use Forest Blend, Gold Rush, or mini-mulch and spread about 2 to 3 inches thick. Mulching helps conserve water, prevents soil surface baking, keeps soil cool in summer, deters weed growth, makes the area more attractive, and provides minerals and organic matter as it decomposes.

FERTILIZING: Use Master Nursery Rose & Flower Food or Dr. Earth Rose and Flower Fertilizer monthly: from February to September, to supply nutrients for developing roots and stems. You can substitute Concern Weed Prevention Plus (a corn gluten product) for the February application to give your roses a slow nitrogen boost and prevent annual weeds in rose beds. You should apply Alfalfa Meal in March and June to stimulate cane development. If you use organic fertilizers supplement them with Iron Sulfate if any symptoms of chlorosis appear.

SPRAYING: The three most common fungal diseases of roses are powdery mildew, rust and black spot. Always check with your nursery professional to properly diagnose problems before undertaking growing season sprays. All three can be controlled with: Liqui-Cop, Safer Garden Fungicide, sulfur powder or Year-Round Spray Oil. These fungicides are preventives and prevent spreading, but will not cure diseased leaves and must be applied before the plant is infected. Each is considered organic.

Ortho Garden Disease Control (Chlorothalonil) is a curative fungicide and will prevent and cure the three listed diseases.

The most common insect pest of roses is the aphid, which can be controlled with Master Nursery Pest-Fighter Year-Round Spray Oil, Malathion, Take Down Garden Spray or Safer Insect Killing SoapCaution: Do not use sulfur or oil products within 4 weeks of each other during the summer. Other insect pests include: katydids, cucumber beetles and thrips, all of which can be controlled with Malathion, Take Down Garden Spray, Sevin (Carbaryl) or Safer Insect Killing Soap. A totally organic spray which works on all chewing insects, including thrips, but not sucking insects, (aphids, scale, mealy bugs, etc.) is Spinosad. Mild to heavy mildew infections can be eradicated by spraying with horticultural oil. When horticultural oil is used as an insecticide, it must contact the insects. It has no residual effect. The same is true for insecticidal soap.

PRUNING: Different types of roses require specific dormant pruning care, usually undertaken in January in our area. In January, attend our annual Rose Pruning Demonstrationcheck our website for the date. The Demonstration features hands-on learning. During growth, deadheading, the process of removing spent blooms will encourage continuous bloom in most roses. Find a leaf that faces to the outside of the plant and cut at about a 45° angle just above the node. Since the new flower stalk will develop at that juncture, make sure the cane is sturdy. If it is not, choose a point lower on the cane at which to cut.

DORMANT SPRAYING: Each year after dormant pruning roses, they should be treated with a dormant spray mixture. Our recommendation is 4 Tablespoons of Liqui-Cop plus 6 Tablespoons of Master Nursery Pest Fighter Year-Round Spray Oil in one gallon of water. Spray the pruned roses until dripping. The Liqui-Cop treats disease microbes and the spray oil kills dormant insects and overwintering eggs. Both are accepted organic.

Other Rose related Care Guide SheetsHow to Plant a Bare-Root RosePruning Hybrid Tea RosesRoses and Alfalfa—A Love Story and the Yearly Bare Root Roses Stock list.