How to Grow Roses

How to Grow Roses

Roses are some of the most sought-after flowers you can grow. The flowers have a light perfume that will fill your garden with a pleasant scent. These symbols of passion have been bred to thrive in almost any environment with just a bit of care.

  1. Choosing your Roses – Shrub and landscape roses are disease resistant and ideal for beginner and seasoned gardeners alike. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, but you should consider a popular variety, as top species are prized for their beauty and hardiness. Daydream, Starry Night and Knockout roses are good places to begin your search. The Daydream rose is a compact bush available in pink and yellow, growing no more than 2 feet high. It does well in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones four and five. The Starry Night rose is a brilliant, white flower that grows up to 6 feet high and thrives in USDA zones six through nine. The Knockout Rose is a popular variety that produces showy flowers ranging from red to pink in color. It is very hardy in USDA zones four through 13.
  2. Selecting the Planting Site – The correct planting location is the most important factor when you are growing roses. If you are outside of your species’ ideal planting zone, set up an indoor location so the roses do not get too cold at night. The area must provide about six hours of direct sunlight in the morning and shade in the afternoons. To prevent disease and encourage moisture evaporation, the planting site needs good air circulation. However, roses cannot tolerate high winds. Space rose bushes at least 3 feet apart if you are planting multiples. Choose a location away from other trees and shrubs, as they will compete with the roses for light and nutrients. The roses need well-drained soil to prevent root rot. Test your ground by digging a 2-foot-deep hole and filling it with water. The water should drain within three hours. If you are planting the roses in a container, pick one with drainage holes in the bottom. A 15-inch planter should suffice for most species. Avoid placing your roses beneath a gutter or roof, as water droplets can damage their petals and cause disease.
  3. Soil Preparation – Roses are not picky about the type of soil they grow in. A high quality, general potting mix will keep most species healthy. If you are planting the roses in the ground, dig a 2 feet deep and 1 foot wide hole. Fill the bottom of your planter or hole with 1 inch of medium-sized gravel to prevent water buildup, and then add about 6 inches of your potting soil. Do not add more soil until you have planted your roses.
  4. Planting Roses – Roses grow best when planted in the spring, after the last frost has passed. This gives their roots an entire season to stabilize before winter arrives. However, roses can tolerate planting during the summer and early fall as well. Gently remove your roses from the container, if they have one, and brush dirt from the root ball with your fingers. Place the plant in the center of your hole or planter and fill in around it with potting soil. Create a mound of potting soil around the base of the main stems to protect the roots.
  5. Watering and Nutrients – Roses need regular and generous water to grow. How often you must water your roses will vary, but their soil should always remain moist to the touch. Avoid getting water on the roses’ leaves or petals, as this can cause disease. To retain moisture and provide your roses with nutrients, they need a layer of mulch. Spread 2 inches of mulch atop the potting soil once in the spring and once in the fall. Chipped oak, pine needles or shredded bark are ideal choices. Fertilizing your roses keeps their flowers brilliant. Select a fertilizer designed specifically for roses and add it after the plant grows its first set of bushy leaves. Fertilize the roses again after their first bloom.
  6. Winter Care – Caring for roses during harsh, cold temperatures is the surest way to bring them back next season. After the first frost, cut the plant back to 18 inches high with pruning shears and tie the stems together with twine. This protects the plant from severe damage caused by winter winds. Loosely pack 1 foot of soil around the tied stems to insulate the plant and its roots. Top the soil with straw for added protection from the cold. When spring arrives, watch your roses closely and look for new growth. After the plant begins producing leaves, remove the straw, potting soil and twine to allow it to receive sunlight. Add a new layer of mulch and begin watering your roses as usual to help them recover.
  7. Pruning Roses – Pruning keeps roses healthy by controlling the plant’s growth and preventing it from expending energy unnecessarily. Wait until after removing the winter protection to prune your roses so frost does not damage the cut areas. Pick a sharp set of pruning shears and sanitize their blades with rubbing alcohol to prevent disease. Cut away dead stems as close to the plant’s base as possible. Observe the plant and cut off any stems that rub against a larger stem, as this contact can create infection. Finish the pruning by trimming the roses to the height and shape you prefer, cutting away only what is required. Do not prune the roses again until the following year to prevent damaging the plant.

Tips and Warnings

If you would like to cut roses for decoration, take the flowers just before they bloom. Make a diagonal cut across the stem, at least 4 inches down, and place it in a glass of water. The flower will open in a few days, creating a beautiful centerpiece or gift for a loved one.

Once you have started them, roses are easy to maintain in proper conditions. In some cases, roses might grow too well and take over a garden. If this happens, you must dig at least 6 inches deep and cut the stem off here. Repeat the process each time it returns.

If you notice any black or rotting areas on your roses, cut the affected stems away immediately and treat the plants with disease-killing spray.

All materials required to grow roses are available from plant nurseries and garden centers.

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