Shrub Rose Care & Maintenance


Shrub roses come in nearly every color except blue or black and are quite cold-hardy plants. They work well as hedges or in garden beds. With fragrant flowers throughout the summer months, shrub roses reward the gardener. These plants are hardy once established, but perform best and remain healthiest when given regular maintenance.


Select a location with well draining soil, since poorly draining soil can rot rose bush roots. Rose shrubs are tolerant of most types of soil, but gardeners can add nutrients to their soil by spreading a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or manure in the area they want to plant, then turning the compost into the soil with a shovel. To plant the shrub rose, dig a hole 18 to 24 inches deep and twice as wide as the rose's container, and remove rocks and weeds. Remove the rose from its container and break apart the root ball with your fingers. Set the rose in the ground at the same depth as it was planted in the container. Cover the roots with soil. Water the newly planted rose until the ground becomes saturated.


Shrub roses perform best with eight to 10 hours of direct sunlight per day. Texas A&M notes that plants can tolerate afternoon sun, especially in hot climates.


Shrub roses should be watered weekly, unless you receive adequate rainfall that week. Give the rose 1 inch of water. To determine how much this is, set your hose on low and fill a bucket with water. Time how long it takes to get 1 inch of water in the bucket. Then water the shrub rose for that amount of time.


Use 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 fertilizer for shrub roses. Texas A&M suggests fertilizing three times a year: first in the spring, right after you prune shrub roses, then when the bush develops flowers, then lastly two months before the first frost date in the autumn. Use a 0-10-10 fertilizer for the final round. Fertilize the shrub rose with 6 lb. of 5-10-5 fertilizer per 100 square feet of rose bed (or 3 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer). Scatter fertilizer on the soil then water to work it in.


Shrub roses need annual pruning in the spring, once frost danger passes for your area. Clip off dead, diseased or damaged branches with anvil pruners, spraying the tools with disinfectant after each cut to avoid spreading disease. Remove up to a third of the old canes, since these produce few and poor flowers. Pruning promotes better air circulation, which keeps your shrub rose healthy, and it induces the growth of new flowering canes.

Keywords: shrub rose care, pruning shrub roses, growing shrub roses

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.