by Fred Roundstone
(Angmering, West Sussex, UK)
Growing roses really isn’t very hard to do. As long as you follow the most basic rules of care, your roses can be healthy and beautiful for a very long time. The first step in having healthy roses is to be sure you’ve chosen a variety that is suitable to your zone.
If a particular type isn’t hardy to your zone, then it may not survive. You also need to ensure that your roses get plenty of sun. They need more than six hours of direct sunlight every day to do really well.
Roses are greedy eaters. They take large amounts of nutrients from the soil, so you must feed them very often, but lightly each time. Feeding should be stopped about two months before the first expected fall frost.
You should feed roses with nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Hybrid tea roses, climbing roses, grandifloras, floribundas, and poluanthas all need about ½ cup of 10-20-20 or 10-20-10 on each bush about three times per year.
You should apply once in early April, again in late May, and again in early July. You could also add ¼ cup every couple of weeks though July. Miniature roses should receive about a tablespoon of 10-20-20 or 10-20-10 in early April.
Then they should get a soluble 20-20-20 fertilizer in early June. About 1 cup should be poured around the base of each plant. Then they should receive another application of this in early July.
Shrub roses and standard garden roses don’t generally need much fertilizer.
You only need to give them a good application of general purposes 20-20-20 fertilizer once per year, sometime in early spring. If you have repeat-blooming roses, you can apply another dose of fertilizer after the first round of blooming is done.
The American Rose Society has developed a special alfalfa tea recipe for roses. It is generally applied in fall, and releases a special growth hormone in your roses. To make it, you fill a 32-gallon plastic trash canwith 10 cups of alfalfa pellets and water.
Then you steep this for about five days, stirring it daily. You should then add in 2 cups of Epsom salts, ½ cup of Sequestrene, and a trace element elixir of your choice. After about three days, this mixture will start to smell, so keep the lid on it.
Large rose bushes should receive about a gallon of this tea, and mini roses should get about 1/3 of a gallon. After you use all of the water, you can add more water to the pellets in the bottom to make a second batch! After the second batch, discard the pellets.
Roses should be watered deeply. They should get at least an inch of water every week. As long as you have given your roses plenty of rich organic material in their oil, you shouldn’t need to give them more than one inch per week.
Do NOT water lightly and frequently, as this will encourage shallow roots that can cause your plants to die during droughts! Always water in the mornings so leaves are dry before dusk, otherwise your roses can get diseases or mold.
Roses need to be groomed regularly. You should remove faded flowers, trim away dead or damaged branches, and prune away brown leaves. For the first two months after you plant your roses, you should remove all buds to help establish the plant and encourage it to grow.
Be sure to leave as much foliage on the plant as you can when you cut your first blossoms. If you see any branches that show symptoms of disease, cut them back to the healthy part of the plant, then dispose of the affected part in the trash, away from your garden and NOT in a compost pile!
Click here to read more about DIY Home Tips for growing roses