Roses are a popular garden plant, yet often touted as difficult to grow. Experienced gardeners know this is not true, and when properly planted and cared for, roses can flourish well in the home garden, providing years of enjoyment. Planting roses needs to be done in the dormancy stage, either in the fall or early spring, to allow time for them to become established before new growth begins. Growing big, beautiful roses requires a willingness to provide regular care and attention to the plants.
Grow roses in a location that receives at least six hours of full sun each day. Roses need lots of sun for large, beautiful flowers and lush foliage. The soil needs to be well-draining so the roots do not get waterlogged, leading to root rot. Organic material such as decayed leaves, composted manure or peat moss should be worked into the soil before planting the roses.
Water frequently and deeply once a week, so the roses receive at least 1 inch of water either from rainfall or irrigation. Water roses early in the morning and use a garden hose with the water left running at a trickle, soaking the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches deep. Stop watering as frequently beginning in the fall through winter, cutting back to once a month. Begin full watering again in early spring as the plant begins leafing out.
Feed roses with a 5-15-15 fertilizer once a month beginning in early spring and continuing until August. Discontinue using fertilizer after late summer to allow the rose plant to go into the dormancy stage preparing for winter. Always water in well when using fertilizer.
Add a 4-inch layer of mulch around the rose plant in early spring to maintain moisture in the soil and suppress the growth of weeds that can compete for nutrients and water. Use pine bark, coarse peat moss, or chopped leaves, all of which add essential nutrients into the soil for the rose. Add another 2 inches of mulching material in late fall to further protect the rose roots from the cold winter weather. Reapply mulch each spring as needed.
Prune your rose plant in early spring as leafing begins, but before flower buds open. Cut out all dead or weak canes or stems, cutting back clear to the ground. Cut out any crossing canes or those growing straight up from the center of the plant to allow for better air circulation. Cut back all healthy canes to about one-third their length, making clean cuts with sharp pruning shears and cutting downward above an outward-facing bud to encourage the canes or stems to grow out instead of inward. Also, deadhead or cut off faded flowers throughout the growing season to encourage abundant blooms.