How to Care for Heirloom Roses


Heirloom roses are varieties that have been existing before the introduction of the hybrids in 1867, and they are usually more fragrant than new breeds of roses. The heirloom varieties are hardy and low-maintenance because they can adapt to different growing conditions over time. Heirloom roses are a popular addition to any garden or landscape for beginner and expert gardeners. There are some key things to keep in mind when caring for heirloom roses.

Step 1

Purchase the heirloom your roses form a reputable breeder or nurser, in order for them to be more healthy. Depending on your variety of heirloom rose, directions may differ. Pick a sunny spot on your landscape for the roses. For climbing varieties, make sure there is a fence or trellis for climbing and training. Roses need lots of sun early in the day and good soil drainage.

Step 2

Dig a hole with the hand shovel, to the depth that your heirloom rose variety needs, which usually found on the planting directions. Roses cannot be overcrowded and on average the holes should be about 6 inches deeper than the root system. Add organic fertilizer or compost into the soil in and around the planting site, then form a small mound of soil at the hole's bottom. Put the rose plant's roots over the mound then cover with dirt. Pat the soil firmly around the base of the rose bush.

Step 3

Layer mulch around your newly planted roses, about 1 inch thick. Water the plants thoroughly, making sure the soil around the roses is consistently moist but not too wet.

Step 4

Apply fertilizer after the roses start to bloom, tailored to your rose variety. Use around a gallon of fertilizer per rose bush. Do not fertilize after August.

Step 5

Prune away any broke, dead or weak rose branches after blooming with the gardening shears. You may want to wear gloves as some branches can be thorny or sharp. If the heirloom roses only bloom yearly, prune the tips and any crowded areas after blooming. For bushes that bloom several times a year, prune after the last bloom. Always cut stems at an angle and remove extra debris from the garden.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Fence or trellis (optional)
  • Hand shovel
  • Organic fertilizer or compost
  • Mulch
  • Twine
  • Rose fertilizer (e.g. liquid fish emulsion)
  • Gardening shears


  • Country Living magazine: Growing Heirloom Roses At Home
  • Rose About Heirloom Roses
  • Royal Horticultural Society: Planting Roses
Keywords: caring for roses, heirloom rose care, growing heirloom roses

About this Author

Lauren Wise is a journalism major from Arizona State University with over forty published magazine and media articles and over 400 Web site articles. Wise owns Midnight Publishing with over eight years experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food and wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in magazines including Runway, A2Z, Scottsdale Luxury Living and True West.