How to Plant & Care for Rose Bushes


Roses are among the most popular garden flowers in the world. There is an almost endless variety of colors, heights and types to choose from, but some gardeners are intimidated by the care that rose bushes require. But roses are not that difficult to care for. Healthy rose bushes only require proper planting, the right growing conditions and a bit of seasonal maintenance to thrive.

Step 1

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch over the soil in the planting area. Add a layer of superphospate at a rate of 3 lbs. to every 100 square feet. Blend the additives with the soil, using a shovel to turn it to a depth of 1 foot.

Step 2

Soak bare-root rose bushes in a bucket for one hour before planting. Examine the stems, leaves and roots and clip off any that are damaged or dead, using pruning shears.

Step 3

Dig a hole 15 inches deep and 18 inches in diameter, using a shovel. Place the rose bush into the planting hole. Make sure that the graft union of the bush is just above soil level. Spread the roots out and replace the soil around them. Add enough water to encourage settling and replace the rest of the loosened soil.

Step 4

Heap 4 to 6 inches of soil around the base of the rose to keep the canes from drying out. Once new growth appears, remove the soil mound a little each day over a period of one week.

Step 5

Water the rose bush until the soil is thoroughly saturated. Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch to help retain moisture and prevent weeds. Continue to water whenever the top 1 to 2 inches of soil feel dry.

Step 6

Fertilize every six weeks with a 5-10-5 fertilizer at a rate of 1 tbsp. per plant or 3 lbs. per 100 square feet. It is best to feed right before watering. Stop fertilizing in July so that the plants can prepare for winter dormancy.

Step 7

Remove faded flowers unless otherwise indicated for the type of rose bush you are growing. Clip off dead or damaged branches as you notice them, using pruning shears. Apply a layer of white glue to clipped canes to keep cane-boring pests away.

Step 8

Prune in early spring to shape the rose bush, using pruning shears. Some varieties, such as hybrid tea roses, require very severe pruning, while many climbers and ramblers require little to none at all. Specific pruning requirements will depend upon the variety of rose bush planted.

Step 9

Place 10 to 12 inches of loose soil around the bottom of the canes in late fall. Add an additional layer of evergreen branches if your rose bush is easily damaged. Remove the covering in early spring, after all danger of frost has passed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not overwater, as rose bushes are susceptible to root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Organic compost
  • Superphospate
  • Bucket
  • Mulch
  • 5-10-5 fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • White glue
  • Loose soil
  • Evergreen branches


  • Ohio State University: Planting Roses
  • University of Missouri Extension: Roses: Care After Planting
  • University of Iliniois Extension: Our Rose Garden
Keywords: plant rose bushes, rose bush care, grow rose bushes, plant roses, grow roses

About this Author

Annita Lawson has been working as a freelance writer since 2004. Her work has been published in various web and print outlets, including The Dabbling Mum, A Virtuous Woman, and Pediatrics for Parents. Lawson is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at Southeast Kentucky Community College. She enjoys sharing all that she has learned about parenting, healthy eating and living a frugal lifestyle.