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How to Make Rose Bushes Bloom

By Tracy Morris ; Updated September 21, 2017

Poets have made of the rose. Robert Frost wrote on the subject of rose blooms: "A flower unplucked is but left to the falling, And nothing is gained by not gathering roses." And while roses have an undeserved reputation for fussiness, they can produce many showy sprays of flowers if given simple care.

Plant roses in well-drained soil in the fall to promote winter root growth.

Fertilize roses in midwinter by mixing a cup of large alfalfa feed pellets, a cup of super phosphorous, ½ cup fish meal, ½ cup bloodmeal and ½ cup Epsom salts. Rake this mixture around the perimeter of your bushes to a depth of 2 inches. Water roses well.

From the second year of your rose’s life onward, apply a commercial grade rose fertilizer twice monthly. Water deeply the day before fertilizing and immediately afterward.

Pinch off buds the first year after you have planted your rosebush. This encourages it to develop deep roots and produce a prettier display of roses in the future.

Prune rosebushes in early spring. Cut away any branches that cross one another or rub together, as well as dead or damaged canes. Remove any branches that are thinner than a pencil.

Deadhead spent rose blooms to promote more blooms rather than allowing roses to go to seed.

Water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry. Roses prefer a long, slow, deep watering. To water this way, leave a garden hose running over the roots for several minutes.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Alfalfa pellets
  • Phosphorous
  • Fish meal
  • Bloodmeal
  • Epsom salts
  • Rake
  • Commercial rose fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Garden hose


  • Always wear gardening gloves and protective clothing when working with roses. Roses have sharp thorns that can injure you.

About the Author


Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.