The Q&A Archives: Rose Care

Question: Please advise the best time and method for trimming these plants. They are now about three feet high. I have several, plus a few other, more ordinary, varieties of roses. Any information and advice you would care to give me regarding fertilization and other aspects of the successful care for any or all of these plants would certainly be appreciated.

Answer: Here are some basics on rose care:
Roses are heavy feeders and need several applications of fertilizer during the growing season. Use a fertilizer formulated especially for roses and follow the instructions on the package. In general, begin feeding when new growth starts in the spring and discontinue feeding in early fall. Feeding too late will stimulate new growth that is susceptible to winter injury. Do not exceed the recommended application rate. Water thoroughly after each feeding.

Roses need a lot of water. Remember how deep you planted the rose? Water needs to reach that level to get to the roots and keep the plant healthy and blooming. Water thoroughly at least twice a week if there is no rainfall. Set a watering schedule and adjust as dictated by the weather.

Summer especially brings a need for vigilance. Even though you may see fewer flowers during the summer, cooler weather will bring more, so keep up the watering schedule. To discourage black spot and mildew, water in the morning and avoid wetting the leaves.

A three- to four-inch layer of organic mulch will control weeds, retain soil moisture and help maintain a constant soil temperature. As organic mulch breaks down, it improves soil structure and adds nutrients.

Proper pruning increases blooms and promotes healthy plants. In general, prune when growth just begins; from midwinter to mid-spring depending on where you live. Your signal is when the uppermost buds begin to swell, but leaves are yet to appear.

First remove all dead wood, cutting back to healthy wood.
Reduce the number of canes. For most Hybrid Tea Roses, leave 3-5 of the healthiest canes, then reduce their size to about knee level.
During the growing season, prune only to remove diseased foliage or canes.
Deadhead faded flowers.
Destroy any diseased foliage to control disease spread.
Use curved by-pass pruners for the cleanest cut. Keep your pruner blades sharp.

Best wishes with your roses!

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