The Q&A Archives: roses keep dying

Question: We have tried for years to grow roses but every year they die. If they dont die before the end of the year they die over the winter. we have tried fertilizing, mulching, but nothing works. we only have one rose bush left that we have had for 25 years but it has grown wild. used to have long stem and tons of roses but now it has short stems and doesnt always have roses.

Answer: Roses need full sun all day long (or a minimum of half a day of direct sun including the hour of noon) and soil that is evenly moist well drained (meaning not soggy or saturated). They also benefit from good air circulation during the summer but most need protection from cold winter winds. In your area many of the hybrid tea roses will suffer greatly during the winter and be weakened or killed by that, so I would suggest you try some of the extra hardy shrub roses -- such as the Explorer and Buck series, Rosa rugosa, and the Knock Out roses for example. If you use roses grown on their own roots instead of grafted they will be able to come back each year even if there is substantial winter damage. Most of the roses would need only a heavy winter mulch to survive and do not need specialized care. Finally make sure they are hardy for your zone. Your zip code places you in zone 6A or the colder part of zone 6, so depending on microclimate your yard may actually be a bit colder (or warmer) than that. For this reason I would suggest you plant roses rated hardy to zone 5 or colder. I hope this helps.

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