The Q&A Archives: Growing Roses

Question: I am caring for my mothers' roses now that she can't. Her oldest rose bush (8-9 years old) is a climbing rose and it and has not produced a bud in about four years but has lots of branches and looks healthy. I have given them food and weeded and watered regularly for the last three years. I also reserched on how to prune them. It still has not produced a single bud and this year in the same bed another rose bush grew well but did not produce a bud. What is wrong? What can I do next year? Can I move them so they get more sun light?

Answer: Exposure to direct sunshine all day is one important factor in producing blooms, but pruning, fertilizing and watering practices are also important. Most roses need direct sunshine most of the day. Climbers produce flowering shoots from main canes, so when you prune, take off most of the current season's wood, cutting back to the basic structure of the plant. (You should have several mature canes on an established climber.) Then, in the spring when new growth begins, the shoots that develop from the main structure will be flower producing shoots. If you fertilize too often, or with a high nitrogen fertilizer, you'll be encouraging lush green growth at the expense of blooms. Use an 8-12-4 commercial fertilizer, making three applications per year (in spring, early summer and late summer). Apply an organic mulch over the roots of your roses to help the soil retain moisture and to help suppress weeds. Finally, apply about one-inch of water per week to your roses, making sure that the entire root mass gets wet. Following the above guidelines should help your roses produce and abundance of blooms next season.

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