Rose bushes, also referred to as shrub roses, are used for bordering walkways, lining fences and creating glorious hedgerows, providing exceptional beauty without tremendous expense or bothersome daily maintenance. They come in a multitude of appealing colors, including deep reds, cool purples, delicate pinks and more. With several varieties, from miniature to knock out, rose bushes are one plant that will continue to give the gift of beauty year after year.
Fertilizer should be applied in the spring, before mulch is applied, using a high-quality 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 fertilizer. Start at least 6 inches out from the crown of the rose bush, and spread the fertilizer around , creating a 12-inch ring. Fertilizer should be lightly worked into the soil, then watered to set it. Depending upon the variety of rose, apply fertilizer every four weeks and stop at least six weeks before the first expected frost for your area.
Mulch helps to maintain soil moisture and deters disease and weeds. A new application of mulch should be applied each spring, at a depth of 2 to 3 inches. During the growing season, reapply mulch as needed. A winter application of mulch, at least 18 inches deep, should be added after the rose bushes have been exposed to below-freezing temperatures for at least two weeks. The winter mulch can be removed over a period of two weeks in later winter/early spring, in preparation for spring care.
Soil type and weather conditions are determining factors in how much water rose bushes need. Sandy soils will need more water than those soils that are comprised of more clay. Excessive rainfall means less watering, while excessive heat requires more watering; however, overwatering can cause root rot and diseases. Typically, 1 inch of water per week is sufficient, and using soaker hoses will evenly distribute water while keeping the foliage dry.
Pruning and shaping should take place in late winter or early spring; however, once-blooming rose bushes should be pruned in summer, rather than spring. Dead wood, with no new growth, should be removed. Also remove suckers and any canes that may be crossed. Cut back viable wood just above newly formed buds, at a 45-degree outward facing angle.
Pests and Diseases
Monitor rose bushes for signs of disease or insect infestation. Common diseases include rust, black spot and powdery mildew. In addition to regular pruning and deadheading spent blooms, fungicides can be applied to kill and prevent further disease. Spider mites, aphids and leaf hoppers are the most common insects to attack rose bushes. These pests can be eliminated and deterred with a solution containing a tablespoon of dish soap in a spray bottle full of tap water, sprayed on the wood and leaves of the rose bush. Keeping dead leaves and blooms removed from the plant area will also help to deter disease and insects.