Growing roses isn’t quite as complicated as a lot of new gardeners think. Growing roses in Florida is even easier. With a year-round growing season, roses thrive in all areas of the state. Whether you grow hybrid teas or floribundas, caring for them well entails little more than some good fertilizer, water and sharp pruning shears.
Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of the rose bush, keeping it 2 inches from the bark of the plant. Completely surround the rose bush with the mulch and spread it out the same width as the bush.
Water your roses frequently and deeply. Lack of water is the main cause of rose death in Florida gardens, according to rosarians with the Central Florida Rose Society. Give the rose at least 2 inches of water a week, and it is best applied twice a week via drip irrigation or a soaker hose. Try to keep water off the foliage as much as possible.
Fertilize the rose bush once a month from February to November in central and northern Florida. In southern Florida fertilize monthly, year-round. Use a fertilizer labeled for roses with controlled-release nitrogen and apply 1 cup per plant. Always water after fertilizing.
Deadhead the rose bush once a month. This entails removal of spent flowers and any rosehips (round seed pods) that have been produced. Remove all suckers at this time. These are small shoots that will appear on the bush below the graft union (location where the bush was grafted onto the root stock). Break these off with your hands.
Prune the rose bush in December in central and northern Florida. In southern Florida, you may need to prune the rose bush twice a year, and the experts at the University of Florida suggest pruning in March and late August. Remove any twigs that are thinner than a pencil back to their point of origin. Remove old canes that no longer flower by cutting them to the ground. Any diseased or dead wood should also be cut back to their point of origin.
Inspect the rose bush frequently for pests, such as aphids and spider mites. Aphids can be washed off the plant with a strong blast of water from the hose. Use insecticidal soap for other pests.
Check the rose bush periodically for disease. Because of Florida’s humidity, roses grown here are susceptible to black spot. This fungal disease can kill the rose bush, so early detection and prevention is important. Keep the planting area clean by periodically raking up leaves and other debris. Add fresh mulch every spring, and spray the rose bush with fungicide, according to label directions, regularly.