Garden roses come in several different categories such as miniature, climbing, and hybrid. There are many types of roses in each category. However, many questions asked about garden roses revolve around “pruning,” so I’m going to answer some questions around pruning as well as where to plant your roses, when to plant them, and how to care for them.
When and How to Prune Roses
In the Northeast, the best time to prune is in the spring when forsythias are in bloom, and again in the fall 4 to 6 weeks before the first hard frost. The pruning is done in early spring to remove any damage that occurred during the winter months, as well as removing any old flowers. Always prune dead wood back to healthy tissue by removing dead, damaged or diseased branches. Healthy branches will be white or light green in the center. If you see any discoloration, spots or mildew on branches, it should be cut out. Removing spent or withered flowers encourages more future blooms; this is called “deadheading”. Since the time for pruning is over, now is a good time for planting. If you’re new to planting garden roses, let’s get started.
Where to Plant Roses
Roses should be planted in an area in your garden that receives a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of full sun. Don’t overcrowd the plants, thereby allowing them plenty of room to grow. Planting rose bushes too close to walkways should be taken into consideration too. Leave enough space so they will not be affected by winter snow removal or the “ice melt” put on your walkway, which can hurt or damage your plants.
Nourish Your Roses
Prepare The Soil
Add the amount of organic material suggested on the product you have purchased. You can buy compost from your local garden store or make your own from grass and leaf clippings around your yard. “Old timers” recommend adding a 4 inch square of gypsum (wallboard) and a 16 penny nail at the bottom of the planting hole to provide calcium & iron. Do this whether your rose bush comes already planted or dry pack, where the rose stems have been coated in wax. Once established, roses should be fed on a regular basis throughout the blooming cycle. Just follow the directions on the product bag!
Fertilize Your Rose Garden
Usually starting in April (and each month thereafter), apply about 1 cup of balanced rose fertilizer (5 – 10 – 5) for each bush and sprinkle around the plant, but not against the plant itself. For those not familiar, balanced rose fertilizer simply means a blend of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium with the ratio 5-10-5. In May and June, add a tablespoon of epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to the fertilizer which will encourage new growth from the bottom of your bush. Pests and disease such as black spot, powder dew, and cankers, are best controlled by getting advice from a county extension service or a full service garden center.
Prepare for Winter
In late fall, stop feeding 6 weeks before the first anticipated frost, but continue watering during the dry autumn weather. After the first few frosts, mound mulch or compost around the plants. In the spring, start the process over with your rose pruning & fertilizing!