Roses are not the persnickety and demanding plants that they are often reputed to be. They do, however, perform best and bloom most profusely when supported by a few elements and techniques beyond the basic provisions of garden soil, bright sun and water. Fertilizing, mulching, judicious pruning and spraying to control insects and disease all reduce stress on the rose plant and spur it to achieve optimal health and beauty.
Fertilizer & Soil Amendments
Roses like to be fed and can consume relatively large amounts of fertilizers. Feeding can be accomplished by either organic fertilizers and soil amendments or with chemical fertilizers formulated for use on roses and other flowering plants. The best organic fertilizers are those such as rose tone, fish emulsion or sea kelp extract as they contain a wide array of macro as well as micro or trace nutrients that can be metabolized by roses. Complete slow release fertilizers with a 10-10-10 or a 5-10-10 analysis are also good options for supplying nutrients to your roses and will encourage bloom.
Roses benefit from regular light maintenance pruning to harvest fresh flowers, deadhead spent blooms and remove damaged canes. Annual pruning can be done to control the shape and size of the plant and encourage bloom. Sharp bypass or anvil style secateurs are the principal tool in rose gardening and it is a wise investment to choose a pair that creates crisp, clean cuts and fits comfortably in your hand.
Insect & Disease Management
Have one fungicide and one insecticide each designed for use on roses in your garden shed. The fungicide can help control rust, mildew and mold and will help you respond rapidly to other less common fungal infections. Aphids, white flies, thrips and beetles among other insects can be problematic on roses. When picking or washing them off the plants with water fails to control the populations the insecticide can provide an assist.
Organic mulch laid around the base of the roses starting 6-inches form the trunk and extending out past the drip line serves multiple good purposes. Mulch will insulate the soil, keep weeds at bay, hold moisture in the soil and boost the nutrient value of the planting soil slowly over time. Use shredded bark, leaf mold, compost, cocoa bean hulls or wood chips for best effect and lay down in a blanket at least 2 inches thick.