How to Care for a Rose
The first feeding of your roses should be done when the bush first leafs out and fertilize for the remainder of the growing season after each flush of blooms. Stop fertilizing about two months before the first frost. You can fertilize with a commercial rose food or general purpose fertilizer. If you use a dry fertilizer, scratch it into the soil beneath the leaves, but do not touch the canes or bud unions and water well.
Mulch helps minimize weeds, keeps the soil moist and loose and adds essential nutrients. Organic mulch works best, use wood chips and shavings, shredded bark, pine needles, cottonseed, cocoa-bean hulls, chipped oak leaves or peat nuggets. Apply in the spring when the soil is warm and before weeds start to grow. Mulch can also be applied anytime during the growing season, provided weeds are removed and the soil surface is lightly cultivated. Spread two to four inches over the rose bed, leaving some space open around the base of each rose. Mulch will need to be replaced as it deteriorates during the year.
You cannot rely on rainfall to be an adequate source of water for roses. How often you will need to water will depend on your soil, the climate and the age of the plant. Try watering a few mornings a week and water slowly at the base of the plant, until the soil is wet 12 to 18 inches below the surface. Soaker hoses are helpful and prevent water from splashing onto foliage, you can pick one up at your local Menards (274-1351). Wet foliage is an invitation for rose diseases.
The best pest prevention for roses is achieved by selecting top quality plants and properly caring for them.
Prune to Promote Blooms
In general, most roses should be pruned in early spring (just after the last hard frost) before new red growth emerges. This ensures that the rose will have a good habit and healthy blooms throughout the season.
Old fashioned roses and climbers that bloom only once a year should be pruned immediately after flowering since they bloom from the growth of the previous year.
- Conard-Pyle Co.