The Basics for Growing Good Roses
Choose a good planting site: The site you choose should receive at least 5 hours of sun each day. The roses should not be planted near trees or shrubs with vigorous root systems They would compete for food with the roses.
Planting: Best time to plant is in the spring. Dig a hole at least 18 inches across and 12-18 inches deep, so the roots will establish themselves more easily. Refill with amended soil. The soil can be amended with compost, peat moss, leaves, composted manure, or other organic material. Do not add any fertilizer with nitrogen to the hole when planting a bare root rose. This will burn the newly forming roots! Bone meal or triple super phosphate can be placed at the bottom of the hole with a thin layer of soil on top to help establish the roots. Water the new bush in well— give it a good soaking. Mound the soil up around the newly planted rose to keep in the moisture until the roots establish, then gradually wash it away during the growing season. Water several times a week after planting, to help establish the roots. Do this for a few weeks.
Fertilize: Roses will grow without being fertilized, but they will do much better if they are feed. Do not fertilize a newly planted bare root rose until after it blooms the first time. Normally this will be about 6 weeks. If done before that, you run the risk of burning the new roots that are establishing, and the plant could die.
Water, water, water: The most important thing roses need is water. Although they need good drainage, roses love water. They do not like to sit in soggy soil. And if the soil does not drain well, the roots will rot. The more water they receive the better bloom they will produce. Not enough water will stress the plant. They like to be deeply watered, not just sprinkled. (Light watering will bring the feeder roots to the surface, not good in the heat or cold, where they could be more easily damaged.)
Diseases: Prevention! Blackspot is the worst problem in this area. It can be prevented by a regular spray program with a fungicide, ideally before you see any problems. The key is routine spraying, according to the disease chemical’s label directions. Once during the season will not do the trick. If you don’t want to spray chemicals, look for disease resistant varieties. Try the Rugosa roses such as the ones you see growing wildly on the East Coast shores. Also very hardy are many of the new shrub or landscape roses, for example, the Knockout series, Meidiland series, Flower Carpets, Romanticas, etc.
Pruning: Roses should be pruned in the spring when the forsythia bloom. They need to be cut back to clean healthy pith (the center of the cane). This is usually white, but some varieties may be slightly darker. Do not cut them to the ground unless the cane is completely dead because this will rob them of the food supplies stored in the canes over the winter. Prune the rose canes 8 inches or higher. Higher pruning will give you more, but smaller flowers. If you don’t want to prune at all, just cut out any dead, diseased, or damaged canes. These should always be removed any time of the year that you see them.. Any small growth (less than a pencil thickness) should also be removed. Prune in a way that opens the center of the bush to a “V” shape, to allow for air circulation, which helps with disease prevention. During the growing season removing spent blooms (deadheading) will help the rose rebloom sooner.
Roses require at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to produce all the sugar and protein they need.
Location should be well-drained; roses don’t like wet feet. A deeply dug, well prepared site will usually provide this. Also, you can dig a trench to help divert rainwater in an overly wet area.
For best results, plant roses in areas without competition from trees and shrubs.
Bare root roses should not dry out. When they arrive, soak them for several hours or overnight in water, such as a 5-gallon Lowes plastic bucket, with a tablespoon of Listerine-type mouthwash. This will properly hydrate them.
Preparing planting holes in the fall will make spring planting easier.
Dig the hole 18 inches in diameter and 20 inches deep. Soil can be amended with decomposed organics, aged compost, gypsum and/or sand for clay soils, which are typical for our area. Add topsoil, or clay soil to a sandy garden bed.
Trim any broken or overly long roots before planting. Do not stuff long roots in the hole by spiraling them around the hole. Roots 8-10 inches long are sufficient.
Put no nitrogen fertilizer in the planting hole. Bone meal or superphosphate will promote root growth safely.
When planting, placement of the of the rose’s bud union (it looks a swollen wood ball attached at the base of the plant just above the roots) depends on climate. In this area it is usually at or near soil level.
Do not stomp on the soil after planting. Let the water settle the soil.
Mound the excess soil around the newly planted bush to prevent it from drying until the roots are established. A height of six inches should be sufficient. This can be removed gradually as the rose becomes established.
Mulching will help the soil retain moisture and keep the soil cooler. The temperature may be 10-15 degrees cooler than without the mulch. It should be 2-4 inches thick.
Many are planting No-Spray Rose Gardens by using easy-care roses, such as the Knock-Out Double pink rose, and not worrying about bugs, diseases, or mites.