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How to Make Rose Bushes Bloom

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.

Rose Bushes That Will Not Bloom

For more than 2000 years, rosarians have been tending to rose bushes (Rosa spp.) because of their beautiful and fragrant blooms. This can result from problems with disease, pests, nutrient imbalance, environmental issues and improper care. The root knot nematode attacks rose plant roots and sucks their juices. The large leaf-footed bug and rose bud borer also attack rosebuds and blooms, resulting in malformed flowers and failure of buds to open. Too much nitrogen in the soil can result in excessive foliage but no rose blooms. Too little phosphorus, which is essential to healthy flower development, will result in poor bloom production. Additional signs of deficiency include stunted growth and yellow leaves. For example, cold weather injury may result in dead stems and flowers. Drought and extreme heat will also cause roses to stop producing buds.


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

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