The Q&A Archives: Rose Spring Maintenance

Question: Last year Ii planted 18 pink 'Simplicity' rose plants. I didn't do anything in the way of cutting them back last year. What should I do this spring - cut the stems (how far)? fertilize? with what and when?

Answer: Pink 'Simplicity' is a floribunda rose, usually sold as a hedge rose. It is described as disease-resistant, winter hardy, and freely flowering. Sounds like a great choice!

The simplest way to prune floribundas is to cut back about 1/3 of the growth, shaping each bush into a nice dome shape. Then go back and remove any dead branches or very crowded ones, opening up the center of the shrub a bit to improve air circulation. Since these are shrubby, freely branching roses, this method is fine. (Other types of roses need more specialized pruning.

To keep roses blooming over a long season, you'll need to feed them. One method is to fertilize about every 6 weeks with an all-purpose rose food. Make the first application in early spring, and stop fertilizing in mid-summer, so the plants have a chance to harden off. Be sure to water before and after fertilizing. Alternately, you can use a slow-release fertilizer just once or twice. Or you can use an organic fertilizer like kelp and fish emulsion, and mulch the plant with a layer of compost.

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