Roses (perennial genus Rosa) are some of the most beautiful and fragrant flowers growing, and they come in all sizes and colors. Some gardeners shy away from growing rose gardens, thinking they are difficult to maintain. However, with proper planning, gardening roses can be simple and rewarding. As soon as early spring arrives for your USDA hardiness zone, you can get started.
Plant your roses in an area where they will receive at least four to five hours of sunlight each day and adequate soil drainage. Dig a hole approximately 18 inches wide and deep enough to make certain the entire root system is covered. Pour 1/2 cup of bone meal into the hole and, with a spade, lightly mix it into the soil. Carefully place your new rose bush into the hole and fill in with the remaining soil. If needed, add potting soil to make sure the bush is tight and sturdy in its new space. Plant additional rose bushes 18 to 24 inches apart.
Water your rose bushes for 30 minutes at least two times per week unless your area has received adequate rainfall. Ideally, roses need 1 to 2 inches of water on a weekly basis. When watering is needed, do so at a slow rate in the morning hours. The soil should get wet at least to a depth of 12 inches.
Fertilize your roses on a regular basis--when the leaves first appear and then after each new set of blooms appears. Use a fertilizer labeled as rose food when possible, otherwise a general purpose fertilizer will suffice.
Apply mulch to your roses to keep the soil moist. Wood chips or pine needles are among the many choices that work well. Make sure to remove weeds before spreading the mulch; 2 to 4 inches is a good depth to achieve.
Add ladybugs to your rose garden to prevent an aphid infestation. Ladybugs can be purchased at most plant nurseries or you can order them online. They are safe and inexpensive, costing less than $20 for 1,500 as of May 2010. If you already have an out-of-control aphid infestation and prefer a chemical, you can try a products designed to kill aphids immediately such as Aphid Chaser.
Prune your rose bush in late winter to ensure the plant is completely dormant. Use bypass hand shears to remove small branches and bypass loppers for the thickest branches. The idea is to remove dead branches to promote healthy growth in the spring. Dead branches are shrunken and black. A healthy branch will still have a green hue. As you become more comfortable with the pruning process, you may want to practice with creating specific shapes to your rose bushes.