Ready to grow some roses? These tips will get you started with a successful rose garden.
No matter what type of rose you grow, pruning is inevitable to keep these lovely flowers blooming and strong year after year. The type of pruning you do will depend on the type of roses you grow.
Hybrid Tea Roses
Hybrid tea roses are common and widespread for their color variety and strength, but need disbudding to maintain bloom size and quality. In early spring, when buds are just forming, remove all the non-terminal buds on each stem, allowing the terminal bud to produce a larger flower. Hybrid teas also need thorough spring pruning, removing all dead wood, spindly growth, and canes that cross.
Bush roses should be pruned similarly, also cutting any canes that grow toward the center of the bush. A good method for pruning dead wood is to cut about an inch below darker-colored areas, on a diagonal angle, using sharp blades, and avoiding crushing the stem. Cut a quarter-inch above the topmost live bud facing outward.
With any rose, once the selective pruning is done, cut the remaining strong canes to an even height. Hybrid teas can be cut shorter, about 12 to 18 inches tall, than the less-vigorous floribundas, which should be pruned to 16 to 24 inches.
Tree and Shrub Roses
Tree and shrub roses can be pruned for shape, but don’t require as much pruning as the faster-growing types of roses.
For climbing roses, prune after blooming to shape and stimulate new cane production.
Roses are heavy feeders that need plenty of fertilizer, especially if your soil is not very rich. For best results, amend your soil with organic matter like compost or manure, making sure to maintain good drainage. You also can fertilize during the growing season.
A slow-release fertilizer in pellets or granules is popular with rose gardeners, but you also can use a liquid fertilizer designed especially for roses to force larger, more colorful blooms.
Mulch is an important component of rose growing, as the flowers need regular water, and suffer easily in hot conditions. Keep moisture in the soil consistent by spreading bark or wood chip mulch at the roses’ base. This also has the effect of cooling the soil.
Winter Care of Roses
Pruning has a part in winter protection for roses as well. Hybrid teas and grandifloras that have flourished in the summer may be protected from winter winds by a fall pruning that trims them down to 24 to 30 inches tall. In more northern climates, expect the tops of your roses to be damaged by winter conditions, and just prune out the dead wood in the spring.
Mulch roses heavily in the winter, mounding mulch four to five inches high on the base in a hill shape to protect the stems. The cold keeps down fungal, bacterial and insect pests so the heavy mulch carries little risk, but should be raked out and lightened in the spring.
Want to learn more about roses?
Check out these pages for more information on the subject.
Learn about growing roses organically from the American Rose Society’s Good Earth project.
Michigan State University Extension has advice on pruning and disbudding roses.
The Louisville Rose Society has information on rose basics.
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