The last thing you need in your hectic day is a high-maintenance flower in your garden. Fortunately, caring for roses is not as complicated as it is often thought to be. With a little extra attention to feeding, watering and pruning, roses will transform and elevate your garden, whether you're working with easy-to-grow miniature roses, shrubs or the more challenging climbing varieties.
Roses crave sunlight and generous helpings of food and water. In most climates, provide at least six hours of sunlight per day. If you live in a very hot climate, plant them where they are shaded from the hot afternoon sun. When watering, water at the base of the plant, and provide about an inch of water per week. Using a soaker hose is ideal for roses because it delivers water directly to the roots and keeps the leaves dry. It's also best to water in the morning, so if the leaves do get wet they will have plenty of time to dry.
Roses should be fed in the early spring just as their leaves begin to grow. Roses that bloom continuously are hungry and benefit from nourishment, so feed your roses every 2 weeks with a water soluble rose food, such as Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Rose Food. Or, for a longer lasting solution, use a continuous release plant food, such as Miracle-Gro® Shake 'n Feed® Continuous Release Rose Plant Food, which will feed for up to 3 months.
For roses that bloom continuously, removing faded blossoms will encourage your rose bushes to produce more flowers. Snip off the spent flowers below the bloom just above the first leaflet. Since leaves are the energy factories for your roses, leaving the foliage intact will result in more flowers. Stop removing faded blooms in early fall to encourage your rose bush to prepare for winter. If you grow roses that flower in clusters, like the grandiflora or floribunda types, you’ll notice a center bud that tends to dominate the cluster and flower first. If you remove it, the result will be a full floral spray without a hole in the center. Removing the center bud also helps prevent fungal diseases. On the other hand, if you grow hybrid tea roses, removing the buds that form below the flower bud at the top of stem will produce a larger flower.
You can keep more moisture in the ground and also help block weeds with a 3-inch covering of mulch, such as Scotts® Nature Scapes® Advanced Color Enhanced Mulch. Do not apply mulch within 6 inches of the base of your rose plants. And, ideally, the mulch used around roses should be completely replaced each spring to help control disease problems.
Roses need a little time to prepare for winter. Stop feeding them in late summer and removing faded blooms in early fall. This will encourage them to slow their growth and enter the dormant stage before winter. After a hard frost has caused most of the leaves to fall of the plant, cover the base of your rose bushes with a 10 to 12 inch layer of well-drained compost or mulch. If you live in a particularly cold climate, you can also wrap your rose bushes in burlap or cover them with extruded-foam caps (also known as rose cones) to help protect your roses during the winter. The key is to not cover your roses too early – wait until the temperatures stay cold.