How to Take Care of Rose Bushes


Grown for centuries, roses haven't gone out of style. Although they require a little care, there's nothing to be scared of; the maintenance for a healthy rose isn't difficult.

Step 1

Make a rose-friendly fertilizer. "Gardening for Dummies" recommends mixing alfalfa meal and cottonseed meal in a 1:1 ratio, working 10 cups of this mix into the soil around each rose bush, and then covering the fertilizer with a layer (about 2 inches thick) of compost or mulch.

Step 2

Fertilize roses in early spring, before they really start growing, and then repeat an application every two months. Stop fertilizing about six weeks before the average last frost date for your area so that roses stop growing and go into dormancy before cold weather hits.

Step 3

Water rose bushes often in hot weather and be sure you water long enough to get the soil wet all the way through the root area, about 18 inches below the soil surface.

Step 4

Keep a layer of mulch around roses to conserve moisture in the soil.

Step 5

Prune off any dead, weak, or damaged branches to keep roses from becoming scraggly. Do this pruning in early spring or late fall.

Step 6

Cover the base of each rose bush with a thick layer of mulch for winter protection. After pruning in fall, add a 3- to 4-inch thick layer all around and up over the base of the rose.

Things You'll Need

  • Rose-specific fertilizer, or alfalfa meal and cottonseed meal
  • Sharp pruning shears
  • Mulch


  • "Gardening for Dummies;" Michael MacCaskey, Bill Marken, and the editors of the National Gardening Association;1996
Keywords: rose bushes, rose maintenance, fertilizing roses

About this Author

Annie Mueller is a writer, editor, professional blogger, website designer, and tutor. She attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Mississippi State University, with a Summa Cum Laude standing. She has written extensively on gardening, parenting, education, and personal growth for women.