The Q&A Archives: rose bushes

Question: struggling to get growth and flowers. plants are brown at stem with very little green or new growth. about to give up on trying to grow roses. has plenty of sun but looks unhealthy

Answer: I wouldn't give up just yet! Start by pruning your rose bush back to remove most of the damaged plant parts. New growth should be healthy and happy. Then follow these guidelines to keep your roses healthy:
10 steps for growing healthy roses

--STEP 1: Prune the roses when the rose begins to demonstrate signs of new growth. This will be in the winter and/or the early spring. New growth is where you see small, red buds growing from the plant. These buds eventually become branches.

--STEP 2: First, cut any branches that are pretty evidently dead, or damaged. Then you want to cut all of the branches and stems except for four or five of the healthy ones. Don't worry if your plant looks pretty small; it's going to grow much bigger in the summer.

--STEP 3: When you are cutting your main healthy stems, cut them back by a third to one half (it depends on the height of rose bush that you prefer). The way you make the cut is right above a bud that faces outwards-that will grow outwards. Cut above a bud that's on the outside of the rosebush, rather than the inside. If you make the cut here, then the bud will grow up, and it will grow out, leaving your with a nicely formed and healthy rose bush.

--STEP 4: You need to start fertilizing your roses on a regular basis at the very beginning of the growing season. You can get special fertilizers that are geared specifically for roses. They like liquid fertilizer, and will want to be fed every three to four weeks (or whatever your packages says). Roses need a lot of nutrients, so deliver.

--STEP 5: Water, water, water. Roses are not only hungry, but they are also thirsty, and need a constant and reliable water source during their growing season. Think about one inch per week of water, whether it comes from rain or from you watering.

--STEP 6: Don't forget to mulch your roses. If you put down one to two inches of mulch, like wood chips, grass clippings, or other organic mulch, then you have to weed and water less. You will also see healthier roses with less diseases and problems.

--STEP 7: Trim off the roses that have finished blooming so that your rose bush will produce more flowers. This is called deadheading. If you keep the dead blooms off, then you will see more new flowers.

--STEP 8: Protect your roses by spraying for insects. If you aren't sure what's affecting your roses, then trim off a part of the plant and take it to your local garden center so that they can tell you what the best course of action will be. Take care of the problem early, so that it won't affect the entire plant.

--STEP 9: When autumn comes around, you need to stop fertilizing your rose plants. This should be done at least one month before the first frost. Otherwise your plant will keep growing until frost kills the new growth. Bad idea.

--STEP 10: Your roses need to be protected during the off season. After your first serious freeze, you need to protect the base of your rose plant. If your area won't fall below 20 degrees, then you don't really need to do anything. If you live in an area where temperatures don't fall below 10 degrees, then simply cover the base of the rose with several inches of soil. If you live in an area where the temperatures will fall below 10 degrees, then you need to cover the base of your rose with about a foot of soil after your last frost date. Two weeks afterwards, wrap your entire rose plant in burlap so that the higher branches will be protected.

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