All About Roses

Hybrid teas, floribundas, shrubs, climbers, David Austin English, miniatures and other abound this fragrant class of classic plants.

This information applies to teas, floribundas, climbers, English and miniature roses. Shrub roses are treated as any other shrub and will not need winter protection, special planting or disease and insect control. 

LOCATION

A well-drained sunny site (5 hours of sun or more) away from tree roots is best.  Provide well-drained soil with a high organic content.  Also provide good air circulation so leaves dry quickly to reduce chance of disease.  Avoid winter wind.

SOIL TYPE

The soil should be neither extremely light nor extremely heavy.  Either extreme may be improved by spading in liberal amounts of peat moss, compost, or other types of humus.  Sweet Peet mixed with the soil at a 1:1 ratio is an excellent planting mix for roses. Spade and mix these materials into the soil to a depth of 15-18″.  Soil pH should be 5.5-7.5, optimum 6.5.  If soil pH is below 5, incorporate lime at a rate of 5 pounds per 100 sq. ft.  If soil is above 7.5, incorporate sulfur at a rate of 5 pounds per 100 sq. ft.

PLANTING

  • Prepare bed as recommended.

  • Dig the hole much larger than the pot and mix in a small amount of bonemeal with the soil in the hole.  See notes about soil amendments below.

  • Carefully remove the pot (“plantable” pots also) without breaking the soil ball.  NOTE:  Bare-root roses require special handling and are not covered in this page.

  • Plant roses with its crown about 1 inch below the soil level and fill in around it gradually with soil while gently tamping soil.  Again, be careful not to break the root ball, and keep the crown uncovered.  It will appear the rose is in a funnel-shaped depression.

  • Space shrub, hybrid tea, grandiflora and hedge forms 2-3 feet apart, climbers 8-10 feet apart.

  • Finally, water the rose in well and mulch to keep down weeds, retain moisture and keep roots cool.  Peat moss is not as good as shredded bark or oak leaves used as mulch.  Also, protect plants from frost in Spring.

SOIL AMENDMENTS

Soil amendments such as compost or Sweet Peet make great additions to the planting area. The high level of nutrients in these products will get your roses off to a great start

WATERING

Water roses only when dry. Mulched roses will seldom need water.   When watering is necessary, soak the ground thoroughly and do not repeat for a week.  Stop watering mid-September so plant hardens off.

SUCKERS

These are undesirable shoots which originate below the graft. Tear or cut these shoots close to the plant which will prevent more shoots from appearing.

FERTILIZING

An organic fertilizer such as Dr. Earth’s Rose & Flower Fertilizer or Espoma’s Rose-Tone will be beneficial if applied just as the plant begins to grow in the spring, approximately April 1st, and again around July 1st. These organic fertilizers should be worked into the soil around the drip line of the plant and provide slow release fertilization to your roses utilizing organic foods while the microbes work to unlock the phosphorus already in the ground.

INSECT CONTROL

A combination spray such as Bonide’s Rose Shield should be applied to roses at times when bees are not present. Spraying should take place approximately 30 minutes prior to dusk in order to avoid bees. The spray should always be sprayed under the leaf where insects are normally present. The chemicals that are in Rose Shield are translaminar and will travel through the leaf to offer better preventative control.

DISEASE CONTROL

The two main disease enemies of roses are black spot and powdery mildew. While not a severe problem with shrub roses or climbers, these two diseases are a plague especially to hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundas which will cause the rose to lose lots of foliage and shut down blooming. Therefore, these diseases must be prevented.

In early spring just before new growth starts, an application of Fungonil or Neem OIl to the rose and surrounding ground will kill black spot spores waiting to attack your roses. In addition, weekly alternating sprays of Bi-Carb and Fungonil used as directed will eliminate most black spot and mildew problems. Remember, while these two fungicides have some curative powers, prevention is the key. Neem Oil, although it is used as an insecticide, has properties that suppress black spot and other diseases of roses.  

WINTER PROTECTION

Soil or mulch pulled up around roses 8-10” high with oak leaves filled in between these mounds in a rose bed gives excellent protection. The plants should only be pruned enough to prevent wind whipping.  

Tree roses should have their roots cut on one side with a spade. Then, pull the plant over into a trench and bury the entire plant with one foot of soil. Tree roses may be grown in a pot all summer on the patio. Around December 1, move the rose into an unheated attached garage and water at least twice a month in winter, even if the soil ball is frozen. A tan colored or white garbage bag pulled over the top grafts of a tree rose will seal in moisture and keep tree roses healthy. It is a good idea to spray the top with Fungonil just before covering. Remove bag around March 15. Trim top grafts back slightly in April, seal cut ends with Elmer’s glue to prevent borers and gradually move the plant into the sun. Climbers can be protected with windbreaks and hilling up the base 8-10” with soil or bark mulch to protect the desirable graft from a severe winter.

Best Winter Protection Tips:
Keep roses healthy right up until freezing. Hardened-off roses do much better in winter than weakened ones. Planting the crown 2 inches below the soil level is excellent winter protection. Remember to uncover the crown in spring. See diagram below:

CARE BY ROSE TYPE:

HYBRID TEA, GRANDIFLORA & FLORIBUNDA ROSES

In fall, cover the crowns with a mound of soil, mulch or leaves at about 8″ to 10″ high. Fall pruning is not recommended but the plants should only be pruned enough to prevent wind whipping. In March, prune roses to the highest live bud. If the cut looks brown or tan, continue cutting until the stem is whitish. Remove all canes smaller in diameter than a pencil and all dead wood from Hybrid Teas. Also remember to remove old flower buds and stalks to the nearest new bud pointing away from the center of the plant to keep Hybrid Teas and Floribundas blooming. Floribundas are pruned only to remove dead or old wood or to keep the plants low. 

SHRUB, HEDGE, ENGLISH & GROUND COVER ROSES

During the first 2 seasons, allow the plant’s basic framework to develop, pruning only the small spindly shoots.  In the 3rd season, treat as you would any hedge, shearing off the top 3rd of the plant, leaving the rest to grow.  Prune smaller shrubs back by one-half and larger shrubs by one-third.  A trimming of shrub roses after the June bloom will encourage more growth and thus more flowers all summer.

More on Pruning Shrub Roses

TREE ROSES

Tree roses should have their roots cut on one side with a spade.  Then pull the plant over into a trench and bury the entire plant with one foot of soil.  Tree roses may also be grown in a pot all summer on the patio.  Around December 1, move the rose into an unheated attached garage and water at least twice a month in winter, even if the soil ball is frozen.  A tan colored or white garbage bag pulled over the top grafts of a tree rose will seal in moisture and keep tree roses healthy.  It is a good idea to spray the top with Fungonil just before covering.  Remove bag around March 15. Prune back by about half.  This will encourage new growth and maintain the compact rounded form. Seal cut ends with Elmer’s glue to prevent borers and gradually move the plant in to the sun.

CLIMBING ROSES

Climbers usually bloom best on 2-year-old wood, so prune very lightly.  Remove only twiggy growth and damaged or non-productive stems.  Reinvigorate growth ever 2-3 years by removing old, woody canes at their base in favor of the younger, more vigorous and flexible, green canes.  These can be trained to grow on arbors, trellises, fences or pillars. 

Cover the base of your climbers with soil.  Tie the canes and wrap them in burlap.  Anchor the canes to the ground and cover them with straw.

More on Pruning Climbing Roses

THE DOs and DONTs of ROSES

  • DO start to uncover roses around Easter. Clean ground with rake and remove old leaves.
  • DO prune with common sense, only in spring, preferably in late March.
  • DO remove all sucker growth from bud union.
  • DO prune and seal canes on outer side above eye at a 30 to 45 degree angle so borers cannot 
    enter the canes causing damage to bloom. Use Elmers glue or finger nail polish.
  • DO NOT prune climbers for 2-3 years after planting. Remove dead wood only. This makes the plant develop and established.
  • DO spray with lime sulphur before leaves appear in early spring, spray the surrounding ground too.
  • DO transplant in early spring or late fall only, if possible.
  • DO mulch less than two inches during the growing season.
  • DO apply fertilizer before a rain if possible.
  • DO dead-head old blooms to make room for new flowers.
  • DO cut old flower stems above where you see 5 leaflets.
  • DO prune climbers after first bloom. (Only after they are established, 3-4 years old)
  • DO water with a watering wand and not overhead with a hose. Do water the bottom of the bush (bud union) only, not the leaves or flowers. Water in the morning.
  • DO loosen soil around bud union occasionally for air circulation.
  • DO NOT grow roses in shade. They need a minimum of four to six hours of sun.
  • DO water in the morning if possible so leaves will dry by evening. This will cause less problems and fungus on the foliage
  • DO break-up hard, clay soil with 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 existing soil and a little agricultural sand and 1/3 compost mixture. Sweet Peet mixed with soil in a 1:1 ratio is excellent to break up hard soil while providing nutrients.If bad drainage exists, raise bed six to eight inches higher.
  • DO spray roses every 8-9 days for diseases with such products as: Bi-Carb, Fungonil, Orthenex or Rubigan. These will eliminate disease problems if the products are alternated.
  • DO apply only aged manure or Sweet Peet that has already been aged.
  • DO plant tall roses in back and shorter in front. Teas, floribundas and miniatures should be planted 2 feet apart. If these are large shrubs or climbers, give them more room (36-48 inches)
  • DO water when ground is dry. In 85-90 degree temperatures, water as needed so they will not dry out.