The Q&A Archives: roses

Question: I just moved into a new house that has two roses plants. I say plants because they need help! When do I fertilize, and with what. When do I prune and how much. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated since I have never grown them before. Thanks, Debbie

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. Be careful not to exceed the recommended application rate. Water thoroughly after each feeding. Roses need a lot of water so water thoroughly at least twice a week if there is no rainfall.

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 to keep your rose bushes blooming. Cut the faded flower plus some of the stem. Prune down to the first 5-leaflet set of leaves and your rose bush will produce a new flowering stem.

Enjoy your new garden!

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