It is said that growing roses is difficult and generates a great deal of hard work. Roses do take a little more time than some other flowers in the garden, but care is relatively simple. Planting other flowers around the roses will enhance the garden. Only a few simple tasks done each week to all the plants in the bed maintain a glorious display consisting of a variety of flowers, including roses.
Leaf buds swelling on the stem of a rose is an indication it is time to feed the plants. Place 1 tbsp. of rose food around the base of each plant and scratch it into the dirt with a cultivator, then water. Roses need more nutrients than other flowers in the bed and need their own type of food. Feed the roses after their first heavy bloom and then in late summer around mid-August. Those living in warmer climates can do a fourth feeding the first part of October.
Roses can survive on the rain that falls throughout their blooming period. However, supplemental watering is necessary if it is very dry. Roses need about five gallons of water each week and prefer to be watered around the base instead of by sprinkling. A drip hose situated near the base of the plant works very well. Top-watering tends to create water spots on the blossoms and can also cause disease on the leaves. Roses become drought-tolerant after three or four years because they develop very deep roots.
In order to grow more blossoms the dead blooms need to be removed from the rose bush. This is called deadheading and it should be done at least two times a week. Use pruning shears to remove the dying blooms. Roses also need to have their canes or stems pruned back at least three times a year. Prune in the spring right after the leaf buds start to swell by cutting dead canes to the ground. Remove any stems and canes that are not as big as a pencil. Leave 3 to 5 healthy, well-spaced canes and cut bush roses back to about 18 to 24 inches in height.
Black spot is a disease that afflicts roses when there is not enough air circulation around the plant; it is contagious to other roses. Black spot presents itself with black fringed spots on the leaves; the leaves eventually turn yellow and drop. Remove all affected leaves including the ones on the ground. Powdery mildew, a fungus condition, will affect other flowers in the garden. It presents itself as a white powder on the leaves, stems and buds. Purchase products at the nursery to spray on the plants and be aware that several can only be used when the outdoor temperature is cool.
Spider mites and aphids are insects that can affect all the flowers in the garden, including roses. Spider mites are tiny yellow, red or green insects found under the leaves. Aphids are brown, green or red, about the size of a pencil point; they clump together under leaves on buds or on the stems. Both feed on the juices of the plant. A strong stream of water will get rid of them for a little while but insecticidal soap will stop them permanently.