Plant and Cultivate Rose Bushes

Creating a lush rose garden needn’t be left to seasoned gardeners. Here is a guide for a healthy, beautiful rose garden.

Choosing Your Plants

Find out which planting zone you live in and research the types of rosebushes that will thrive there.
Decide what size garden you want, as you will need to allow adequate space between rosebushes. The location must provide a minimum of six hours of sun a day, preferably morning sun.
Test your soil for acidity (test kits are available at your County Extension Offices). 5.5 to 7.0 is the best pH range for your roses. The best soil for your plants will retain moisture and allow aeration of the roots.
Buying plants locally gives you the option of bare-root bushes or potted bushes. Either is good and you have the freedom to plant at your convenience. Mail-order catalogues may give you a wider variety of plants to choose from, but there is a limited time-window in which to order and plant.

Planting Instructions

Soak bare-root plants for six to ten hours before planting. Container roses should be watered if dry, then left to drain thoroughly.
Read planting instructions specific to the rose variety for information on spacing and planting depth.
Amend the soil from three to four feet around each rose bush with organic matter such as peat moss, compost or manure.
Dig a hole large enough so that the roots will be able to spread out and rest comfortably. Do not plant too deep.
Place bare-roots or root-ball in the hole and fill to two-thirds with soil. Thoroughly soak the dirt, allowing air pockets to disperse and soil to settle.
Add remaining soil to hole, and create a raised rim around the rose bush so that moisture will flow towards the center.

Caring for Your Rose Garden

Feed your plant. Roses need much nourishment; find a fertilizer specifically formulated for roses.
Fertilize at planting, mid-June, and again in mid-July if rosebushes are repeat-bloomers. Never fertilize past August 15th, or the plant may not go dormant in time for winter.
Roses need approximately one inch of water per week; more if temperature is hotter than normal. Do not water leaves; this may burn them and can cause blight.
Dead-head flowers regularly. This allows for new growth, adds to the beauty of the plant and reduces risk of infestation.
Prune your garden. Cut off withered or decaying canes, and if canes are crossed prune the less healthy growth, since crossed canes can rub against each other, damaging the plant.
Shape your rosebushes. Not only will this give your garden a well-tended look, but it allows sunlight and air to reach entire plant.
Use mulch such as straw or woodchips throughout the season to keep the ground cool and retain moisture for the root system.

Winterize Your Rose Garden

Wait for a killing frost to ensure dormancy.
Cut back tall canes and tie them together to avoid wind breakage.
Cover center of rosebush with a twelve-inch radius around the plant. Cover the mounds with mulch.
Detach climbing roses from supports and lay them on the ground. Cover the vines with three to four inches of soil, and make a mound over the plant base.

Tips and Warnings

Rosebushes do not tolerate variations between freezing and thawing well; if the plant is not kept in a state of dormancy it may be weakened or die.

Wear heavy-duty gloves when working with your rosebushes to protect your hands from the sharp thorns. It is possible to get tetanus from roses, so use caution when handling them.

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