The Q&A Archives: Why won't my roses bloom more than once?

Question: I have two grand flora climbing roses bushes that my father planted 15-20 years ago, and two rose bushes climbers that are about 40 years old ( I think they are grand flora. The thing is that they only bloom once for the season and no more. Last year I cut both down to 18? height after 5 years of using the rose spikes (I though I was not fertilizing correctly) I found out that the spikes do a far better job than I have. The roses put out hundreds of buds and the beauty of it exceeded my expectation. No matter how many spent blooms I removed after the last one that was it. Here is a list of what I have always done for the plants: Water at lease one gallon per plant or one inch of water a week unless it is very not then I use my water meter to check soil, Rose spikes according to directions, 3? of mulch, check PH 6.0-7.0 and it is. Help! What do I need to do to have continuous blooming?

New York City

Answer: I hate to be the one to say this, but the roses may simply be once blooming roses with a show once a year in the spring/early summer, many of the older climbers are just that. It sounds like they are healthy so you may not want to change anything. Rather than spikes I personally prefer to use a top dressing of good quality compost each spring plus a general purpose granular or slow release fertilizer of 10-10-10 or similar proportions per the label instructions. I combine that with a year round layer of organic mulch which rots down and slowly feeds the soil on an ongoing basis. Watering deeply in dry spells also helps keep them healthy. Pruning -- as you saw -- can help keep the canes vigorous with ample side shoots or laterals that will bud heavily. I'm sorry I can't be more encouraging.

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