Tips & Techniques
Betterdays in Full Swing

The Ultimate Guide to Growing Beautiful Roses


By Gilmour

Many novice gardeners are intimidated by the beautiful rose plant and think they are harder to grow than they really are. But the truth is, with just a little care and knowhow, you can grow gorgeous rose bushes that will produce perfect blooms for you to enjoy and others to marvel at season after season.

Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about how to grow roses. From planting rose bushes to pruning them, you will be an expert in no time at all. We will cover:

What are Roses?

Of the genus Rosa in the Rosaceae family, roses are woody perennials that flower on thorny, prickly stems. There are thousands of cultivars of roses and more than 150 species. Roses can grow as hedges, shrubs, single bushes or climbing or trailing plants. They are sun-loving and need fertile, well-drained soil.

The saying goes “a rose is a rose is a rose…” but in reality, with hundreds of types to choose from, nothing could be further from the truth when talking about planting roses. Different varieties have different needs and will produce different outcomes. Before deciding on what type of rose to plant, take a look at some of the popular rose plant options out there. Choose the one that will be the best fit for your space.

Tips for Planting, Growing, and Caring for Rose Bushes and Vines

Despite their fragile appearance and initial often-lackluster look, roses are actually easily-acclimated plants that will typically do very well with minimal effort, as long as they are planted in the right growing conditions.

Best Time to Plant Roses
The best time to plant roses is after the last frost in the spring, or at least 6 weeks before the first expected frost in the fall. Fall planting can be a bit tricky because the roots need time to establish and really dig into the soil before the rose plant goes dormant during the winter time.

Where to Plant Roses
Regardless of the variety, roses love sun. Be sure to find a site that gets 6 – 8 hours of sunlight every day. However, note that roses in very hot climates will need protection from the hottest parts of the day. In cooler climates, rose plants will have the best chance of surviving freezes if they are next to a west- or south-facing wall or structure. Make sure you dig deep before planting your roses, as their roots need a lot of room.

Ideal Soil for Roses
Roses need rich-in-organic-matter and well-drained soil. If planting in heavy clay soil, mixing in peat moss, compost and other organic matter will help with drainage. If plants will be in sandy soil, be sure to add compost so the plant’s roots can retain as much moisture as possible.

Growing Roses in Pots
If growing roses in pots or containers, planting them in spring is best. Make sure to choose a variety that will do well in pots, as not all do. Shrub roses, for example, get too big and often will not thrive in a container. Taller containers are ideal, since rose roots grow deep. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, you will need to add some in the bottom. Laying some broken pottery (such as, a piece of a recycled terracotta pot) or a small piece of window screen over the drainage holes will help ensure water does not drain too quickly and soil doesn’t wash out the holes.

How to Prune Roses
One of the great things about roses is they are almost impossible to over-prune. That said, there are a few tips and tricks to pruning rose bushes that will result in a professional-looking pruned plant. Pruning will also keep plants healthy and encourage them to grow. If roses are growing in an area where they will go dormant, prune early spring. In any region, light pruning all year long is fine and will keep plants looking trimmed and well-manicured.

To Prune Roses:

  1. Remove all dead, damaged or brown canes and remaining leaves.
  2. Remove any crossing branches that may be rubbing against one another.
  3. Remove all weak, thin growth. A good rule of thumb for established plants is if it is thinner than a pencil, cut it back.
  4. Once all dead, weak or crossed areas have been removed, prune the remaining canes. Make a 45°-angled cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch above a bud eye that faces outward. A bud eye is a small bump that is where a leaf would grow on a stem.
  5. Seal the ends of new cuts with a pruning sealer compound to prevent rose borers and rot.

How to Feed Roses
Rose bushes need regular fertilization in order to put on the best show. Organic methods like monthly applications of composted manure, compost or natural fertilizers (such as fish emulsion) all work well. Slow release fertilizers will give roses the perfect balance of nutrients they need for optimal growth. Note that slow release fertilizers have a higher nutrient content than organic options, so rather than monthly, just one application in the spring and another in the fall should suffice.

Common Questions About Growing Roses

Roses are relatively easy to grow, but with so many varieties out there, many gardeners have questions about how to take care of rose bushes.

When is the best time to plant roses

The best time to plant roses in the ground is during their dormant season, in fall and in early spring. Do not plant roses in winter when the ground is frozen. If planting in containers, roses can be planted year-round, as long as the soil is not frozen or extremely dry.

Are Epsom Salts good for roses?

Epsom Salts can provide magnesium and sulfur, important secondary nutrients that roses need. Magnesium helps plants generate chlorophyll and absorb phosphorus. An easy trick for applying Epsom Salts is factor one teaspoon per each foot tall the plant is. So, a 3-foot tall plant would take 3 teaspoons. Each spring, just sprinkle the salts in a ring on the soil around the base of the plant. Gently mix the salts into the soil. Apply salts during a cooler part of the day.

Why do rose leaves turn yellow?

Rose leaves can turn yellow when the plant is suffering from a magnesium deficiency. An application of Epsom Salts can help restore magnesium levels.

How can I make roses grow faster?

Rose bushes will grow faster with regular pruning and feeding to encourage growth.

Are roses deep rooted?

Roses are deep rooted, which means planting them requires a deep hole to ensure the healthiest plant and best production of blooms. Rose roots, like other members of the Rosaceae family, grow on a fibrous root system, meaning they have a crown or top knot that descends into at least one, but often more, thick roots.

When do roses bloom?

How often a rose plant will bloom depends on the planting zone and the specific variety of rose. Some roses will bloom only in the spring, while others will bloom once in the spring and again in the fall. Still others can bloom year-round. Continuous-bloom plants in zone 9 can put on a show all year long, provided they have enough sunlight, water and regular fertilization.

What hardiness zone will roses grow in?

Virtually all roses can grow well in hardiness zones 7 – 10. In these zones, the temperature will get low enough to allow roses to go dormant, but not so cold that the plant struggles. Winter chilling is important to roses so they can rest. Some varieties may not bloom as well in zones that do not get cold enough in the winter months. However, there is a limit to how much cold roses can take. The coldest zone roses will likely grow in is zone 3. As always, check the hardiness zone for the specific type of rose you hope to grow and the zone you are in.

Roses are classic, gorgeous plants that add an aesthetic to yards and gardens. While they may seem daunting to a beginner gardener, with just a little bit of knowledge and the proper care, beautiful blooms can grace your yard for years to come.

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