When well-cared for, rose bushes will beautify your garden for many years--even generations. Growing rose bushes takes a little work, but is not as difficult as some people think. Good, rich soil with adequate drainage goes a long way to enhance a rose bush’s health. This means you should prepare the ground before planting as it is one of the most important steps. Picking the right starter plant is also important. You can buy bare-root roses from mail-order catalogs or online, but you can also look to your local nursery first. Many sell young rose bushes in pots--these are easy to plant and are already more established plants. Local nurseries will almost always sell only roses that are suitable for your gardening zone.
Choose a sunny area of the garden and put on your garden gloves. Prepare the soil by tilling the topsoil down approximately two feet (using a shovel). Sprinkle a bag of composted manure onto the soil and till it in again to blend the compost with the soil. If you have soil with poor drainage, add some sphagnum moss and sand at this time as well.
Dig a hole for the rose bush. It should be deep enough that when you set it in the hole, the crown (where the canes meet the roots) will be at ground level and not below. If you are using a bare-root plant, you will need to leave a small mound in the center of the hole to support the crown.
Remove the rose bush from its pot. The best way to do this, if it does not come right out, is gently lay it on its side and tap at the sides of the pot (if plastic) to loosen the dirt from the sides. If this does not work, use strong garden clippers to cut the plastic pot away from the plant.
Gently loosen the clumped soil around the rose plant. Settle the bush down into the hole up to the crown (not over the crown) and, holding onto the bush’s trunk with one hand, scoop in soil around the sides with the other. Give it a deep watering after planting.
Fertilize the rose bush after it has had a couple of weeks to get over the shock of the new environment. Water the rose bush with a garden hose or low to the ground irrigating systems. Don’t use an overhead sprinkler as water on leaves promotes fungus. Roses need deep watering to promote strong, deep root growth, according to the Oklahoma Rose Society, and need approximately 2 inches of water each time (water once a week or more as necessary).
Check the leaves weekly throughout the warm season. Look for dark spots or powdery mildew on the leaves--fungal problems are common to roses--you can treat these with a fungicide for roses. Also check for signs the leaves are being eaten--rose bushes are susceptible to many kinds of insects.
Use pruning shears to prune the bushes at least once a year. Some gardeners do it twice yearly--once in the fall and once in late spring--but for most rose bushes, one pruning in late spring is sufficient. When pruning, cut out all dead stems and cut back other canes (stems) that appear diseased or thin and weak.