Roses are perennially popular plants and have been favorites for hundreds of years. Modern hybrids have flowers of many shades and come in miniatures, bush, climbers and other forms. There is also variation in disease resistance and heat tolerance, but one thing they have in common is liking regular watering. Older hybrids and species roses, however, may be more tolerant of dry soil.
Rose Watering Basics
Water deeply and infrequently, soaking the entire root system and then letting it dry out slightly. Deep watering encourages roots to search farther for nutrients and moisture, giving a stronger root system and a healthier bush. Applying a small amount of water frequently encourages a shallow, easily stressed root system. Roses in containers need more frequent watering because their roots are confined in a small area and water will evaporate more quickly from the exposed soil, especially in a ceramic pot.
Amount of Water Needed
Roses should have 1 to 2 inches of water every week, less in cool weather, more in warm weather or low humidity. Newly planted roses in particular should never dry out completely. Their root system needs time to develop and deepen to take full advantage of the moisture in the soil. In general, water each rose bush for 30 minutes twice a week. If your air is very dry, or the weather very hot, increase this to four times a week, but check the soil with a finger to see if water is truly needed. If the top inch of soil is completely dry, water. If only the surface is dry, with moist soil beneath, wait another day.
Smart Watering Strategies
Water in the morning and avoid wetting the leaves to prevent disease development, but spray the bushes with a strong stream of water once a week to dislodge insect pests. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch to keep the soil cool, prevent evaporation from the surface and discourage weeds. If winters are dry, water the dormant bushes to keep the roots strong and healthy.
Watering Antique and Species Roses
Wild roses have different watering requirements and some of them, such as the rugosa rose, are quite drought-tolerant. Old varieties and hybrids, some dating back hundreds of years, may need less water than modern roses, at least once they have been established for two or three years. Ask about watering requirements whenever you purchase antique or species roses.