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The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Roses – Part One

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Roses – Part One

By Kristina Howley, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®

Roses are obviously beautiful, but notoriously terrifying to care for. But what if you could choose roses that are easier to grow and enjoy? It’s easy if you select roses that have good disease resistance, long bloom times, and a self-cleaning nature (goodbye deadheading!). With virtually no work, these roses will make your garden look like it’s maintained by professionals. To get started, here is Part One of our guide to help you garden with confidence and get the most out of your garden roses.

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Ringo® Landscape Rose - My Proven Winners ColorChoices (


If the planting spot you’ve chosen has good drainage, nice airflow, and direct sun for six or more hours each day, you’re good to go! Resist the urge to tuck your rose into an already packed garden, or to companion plant too closely around it, as this reduces airflow and promotes an unhealthy atmosphere. Roses resent soggy soil and won’t flower as prolifically if planted in shade, so if you’d like to add a beautiful rose to your garden, be sure it truly has the ideal conditions to thrive.


How to Plant Roses from a Pot
Roses can be planted in the same manner as any other shrub! Read How to Plant a Shrub to get more information. Note: even if you don’t usually garden with gloves on, it’s a good idea to have a pair of leather work gloves handy when planting a rose.

How to Plant Bare Root Roses
You may find bare-root roses at your local garden center in early spring. These dormant plants are a great way to get a quality rose at a lower cost, but they do need some special care to get them off to a good start.

Soak: The day before you plan to plant, remove the rose from its package. The soil in the bag will fall away, and that’s okay. Inspect the roots and cut off any that are broken or look dry and shriveled. Fill a bucket with water and soak the roots for about 12 hours to rehydrate them.

Dig: The depth and width of the planting hole should be about twice as big as the root system. Once the hole is made, use a little of the excess soil to build up a small hill in the center.

Place: Spread the roots over the hill and stabilize the plant with one hand. Put the soil you removed back into the hole, all around the rose. Tamp down gently, but firmly, to secure. (Read more about why we don’t recommend adding additional material to the planting hole in our article about the bathtub effect.)

Water: Water the plant thoroughly with a hose or watering can to settle and saturate the soil. Then apply a 2-3 inch/5-7 cm layer of shredded bark mulch over the roots.

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Oso Easy Italian Ice® Rose - My Proven Winners ColorChoices (


Roses work hard to produce jaw-dropping blooms, so make sure they don’t get thirsty, especially while they are establishing. Watering them from below (at ground level) will keep them as healthy as possible, and less likely to develop any fungal diseases or leaf spots. Although disease resistance is a key component of our rose evaluation criteria, proper watering will further reduce the possibility of powdery mildew or black spot developing. If you have a sprinkler system and your roses must be watered from above, set it to go off in the morning. This will help the leaves dry throughout the day with the heat of the sun. A few watering tips:

  • Water in the morning. This allows water to soak into the ground quickly, with very little lost to evaporation. Plus, any water that gets on the foliage will have a chance to evaporate during the heat of the day, which decreases the likelihood a disease will develop.
  • When you water, do so thoroughly. This is more helpful than frequent, light watering.
  • A layer of mulch around the base helps the soil retain moisture and will reduce the need to water as frequently.
  • If your area is going through a dry spell, check on your plants more frequently! Dig a few inches into the soil and check for moisture. If it’s almost dry or dry, be sure to water thoroughly.

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Oso Easy® Double Red Rose - My Proven Winners ColorChoices (


Apply a granular rose fertilizer in early spring, after the ground has thawed. Usually you can combine this event with pruning and plan to do both jobs at once. If you’d like to encourage more blooms, you can put another light application of fertilizer down after the rose has had its first flush of flowers.

Don’t apply fertilizer after mid to late July, as this could promote new growth that would be vulnerable to low temperatures in fall.

Still have questions? You can contact Proven Winners with your gardening questions and one of our horticulturists will get back to you. Please include your zip/postal code and a photo if possible.

Next month we’ll go over what you need to know about pests, diseases, pruning, and winter care, plus some of your most frequently asked questions.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photos courtesy of Suntory Flowers

As summer heats up, the garden party is just beginning for gorgeous, tropical mandevillas. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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