There are few things in life as beautiful as a rose. For the last 5,000 years, people have been enjoying their fresh fragrance, incredible colors, and sense of beauty they bring to wherever they’re found.
If you’ve been thinking about growing your very own roses to enjoy, but have no idea where to start, there’s hope! We’ve compiled everything you need to choose, plant, and care for your rose bushes all in one place for your convenience. Read on to find out all about Rose Bush Care 101.
Before You Start
Rose bush care really starts before you actually start caring for your rose bush. Getting the bushes in the ground correctly and then well established is critical for their long-term health. There are a few things you can do from the very beginning that will set you up for success in the long run.
Choosing the Right Rose
While roses are beautiful, and caring for them doesn’t have to be complicated, it is work, so it’s important that you pick the roses you think are worth your time and effort. If you want big, full roses to use in floral arrangements, you’d be disappointed with some varieties. If you want large rose bushes to line your fence, you need to make sure to get the right kind.
It sounds hard, but we’ve made it easy for you. Check out our list of 21 Gorgeous Rose Bush Varieties to get you started.
When you’re ready to start buying roses, here are some places we recommend and trust:
Don’t let prices from trusted retailers shock you. Rose bushes are something that are worth investing a little extra money in. The healthier they are when you receive them, the easier it will be for you to perform all the rose bush care they need to help them thrive.
The inexpensive roses in a bag that you’ll find at your big box retailer will more than likely take a lot of work and still not grow well.
Choosing the Right Place
When deciding where to plant your rose bushes, there are three things to consider: sunlight, soil, and space.
Experts in rose bush care agree that in order to thrive, rose bushes need somewhere between 6-8 hours of full sunlight daily. Some varieties are hardier than others and can take more direct light, but that’s the general rule of thumb to follow. Typically, roses don’t love a lot of shade, but they’ll do ok as long as wherever they’re planting gets at least six full hours of direct sunlight daily.
Roses bush roots need loose soil that’s got good drainage. If the soil where you’re thinking of planting your bushes is full of clay, sand, or rocks, you can add some organic compost and spend some time making it appropriate for your rose bushes. Peat moss, store-bought compost, or even your own homemade compost will do the trick.
In order to thrive, rose bushes need space. Each plant needs to be at least three feet from the next plant in any direction. That will leave plenty of space for air to circulate, which fights fungal disease, and will give you space to move through them to perform your rose bush care chores.
Choosing the Right Season
Rose bush care experts recommend planting new rose bushes in the ground in the spring, after the last freeze warning has passed. They like warm weather and this will give the bushes the rest of spring, all of summer, and the beginning of fall to establish a stronger root system before winter comes around.
Basic Rose Bush Care
Now that you’ve started strong by choosing the right rose bush, the right place, and the right season, there are some basic principles of rose bush care you need to know in order to have a thriving, beautiful garden.
The hole in which you’re planting your rose bush needs to be deep and wide enough to completely fit the roots without crowding them.
Add some loose dirt mixed with fresh compost material back to the hole and then put the roots in. The place where all of the canes (what the branches are called) meet, also called the crown, needs to be at ground level if you live in warm temperatures and around 2 inches below ground level if your weather is cooler.
Once the roots are in the ground, fill the hole back up with your mixture of loose soil and compost material about halfway, and then add some rose fertilizer. To help you choose the right fertilizer, check out The 6 Best Rose Bush Fertilizers.
Fill the hole up the rest of the way, thoroughly water it, and then add a couple extra inches of mounded soil around the base of the bush to help it adjust to its new environment.
When it comes to the watering aspect of rose bush care, it’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all situation. The amount of water you need to give your new rose bushes is going to depend on the climate and soil where you live.
As a general rule of thumb for rose bush care, roses need one inch of water a week during their growing season. Take care to not overwater your plants, as too much water is as harmful as too little water.
Another important rule of rose bush care is to keep the foliage as dry as possible when watering. Use something with a longer handle for bigger, more established rose bushes, and make sure to water the soil directly at the base of the plant to help protect against diseases.
In order for your rose bush care to work well, fertilizer is imperative. It’s necessary if you want to see your rose bushes thriving and full of gorgeous blooms.
Rose fertilizer comes in a few different forms: granular, liquid, spray, and spike. The form you choose to use will determine exactly how you use it. Some will last for months, while others will need to be reapplied more often, around every two weeks.
For more information and some of the best rose fertilizer options out there, check out The Six Best Rose Bush Fertilizers to Grow Amazing Roses!
Pruning is often the most dreaded rose bush care chore, but there’s good news! First, new rose bushes really don’t require much, if any, pruning. Then, as they grow, you don’t have to be afraid to hurt them by pruning! It’s literally almost not possible to kill a rose bush simply by pruning it too much.
Nevertheless, there are a few general pruning principles you should know.
First, most pruning should be done in early spring. All you need to do for general pruning is cut off any brown or dried-up branches. You can also snip any thin, weak branches that won’t produce any flowers.
The point of pruning to trim away any unproductive pieces of the bush so that all the energy can go into growing beautiful blooms instead of into parts of the plant that won’t be good for anything.
For more detailed information and a step-by-step guide, go read The Complete Guide to Pruning Roses in Five Easy Steps.
Deadheading is considered to be a type of pruning, but it’s important enough to warrant its own section on this post. This rose bush care chore is very, very simple.
When roses are left on the bush, even after the bloom is dried up and dead, many varieties begin to form a hip. A hip is a seed pod, where seeds are grown to be harvested and used the next year.
By deadheading, or simply pulling or cutting off spent blooms, you’re not only cleaning up your rose bushes and getting rid of unsightly blooms, but you’re also sending a message to the rose that it’s not time to put energy into forming a seed. It’s still blooming time! This will result in more gorgeous flowers growing on your rose bushes.
While some gardeners want their yard full of roses, some people want their house full of the roses they’ve worked hard to grow! If that’s you, there are a few simple tips that will extend the life of your cut roses.
The best time of day to cut your roses is going to be in the morning or the evening, but never in the middle of the day when they’re stressed from the heat. Use a sharp pair of hand pruners to make a clean cut and not damage the remaining branch.
Roses will last the longest inside by following a couple of rules. First, trim them off the bush when the petals are just starting to open up. That will give you more time to enjoy them inside as they continue to open.
Second, trim them a second time, at a 45° angle, before putting them in your water. Also, another helpful tip is to trim off all the greenery that would end up under the water line. That helps fight them rotting and growing bacteria.
Lastly, change out the water and trim off a bit of each stem often. Every day is best if you can manage it. That will keep the water clean and help them absorb the fresh water even better.
Rose Bush Care FAQ
Do I have to plant my rose bushes in the ground?
No! You can enjoy the beauty of a rose bush in a container, which means you could live in a high-rise apartment building and still enjoy fresh-cut roses from your balcony. The same rules of rose bush care all apply, and make sure you choose the right variety to put in a tall pot. Rose bush roots like to go deep.
Is there anything I can do to speed up my rose bush’s production?
Yes, fertilizing and pruning will both encourage your plant to produce blooms at a quicker pace.
Are there any diseases that can affect rose bushes?
Unfortunately, yes, there are. For details on what the diseases look like and what you can do to prevent and treat them, go to the post Seven Harmful Rose Bush Diseases and How to Cure and Prevent Them.
What about bugs?
Turns out that not only humans enjoy roses. There are lots of critters who like to enjoy them in their own way, too. For more information on what to look for and how to get rid of them, read Twelve Damaging Rose Bush Pests: How to Get Rid of Them and Prevent Them.
What are the basic types of roses?
You’re right to ask this, because a rose isn’t just a rose. The most popular rose types include Climbing Roses, Hybrid Tea Roses, Miniature Roses, Shrub Roses, and Tree Roses.
I’ve trimmed the roses off my bush… now what?
If floral arranging doesn’t come naturally to you, never fear! I’m here to help. Check out this Introduction to Rose Flower Arrangements for five ideas on how to arrange your freshly cut blooms.
Wrapping Up Rose Bush Care
I hope by now you see that rose bush care isn’t something that only a master gardener can handle. The average, at-home gardener is more than capable of growing gorgeous, fragrant, thriving rose bushes at home with just a little bit of help and instruction. You can do this!
If you’re ready to dive in and learn more, check out our entire section on roses!