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Caring For Roses

June 3, 2022



Rose care is easier than you think—anyone can grow them successfully. Plant your roses in a sunny location with good drainage. Fertilize them regularly for impressive flowers. Water them evenly to keep the soil moist. Prune established rose bushes in early spring. Watch for diseases like powdery mildew or black spot.

Rose Protection

All In The Roots

You can purchase roses already potted in soil or as dormant bare-root plants. Each type has its benefits:

Container roses: Container roses are great for novice gardeners because they’re easy to plant and establish quickly. This allows you to plant them when climate conditions are ideal— preferably a cool and cloudy day.

Bare-root roses: One of the advantages of bare-root roses is the greater selection of varieties available. Plus, they are economical and can be ordered online. However, unlike container roses, bare-root plants need to have their roots soaked overnight in water before planting. Also, the roots should be kept moist for the first few months after planting.


Climbing Roses – Climbing roses are one of the most common varieties. They can turn an ordinary wall or trellis into an elegant area that’s as whimsical as it is pretty. Choose from miniature or large flowers. Be prepared to prune regularly, as climbing roses need a lot of care or they will quickly become unruly and overgrown.

Hybrid Tea Roses – Hybrid tea roses are another of the most commonly known and widely recognized roses. Their large blooms at the end of their stem are a telltale sign of this rose type. Hybrid tea roses are the ones most often sold in stores and at florist shops. Plants grow upright, usually about 3 – 6 feet tall.

Shrub Roses – Shrub roses tend to sprawl so they will do best in large areas or gardens. They can grow up to 15 feet in every direction and are known for their pretty, large clustering blooms. They are a hardy rose and have more thorns than some other varieties.

Tree Roses – Tree roses, also known as standard roses, are a bit more finicky in terms of growing well in colder climates. These unique beauties are actually just a rose bush that has been grafted to a cane stock or trunk. The result is the look of a rose tree that can grow up to around 4 feet tall.

Miniature Roses – Miniature roses can be grown as a bush in the yard or garden or in containers as smaller bushes. Most will grow to roughly 15 inches, but some can get as tall as 30 inches. They produce small clusters of blooms and need good humidity and full sun.


The best time to plant roses is after the last frost in the spring, or at least 6 weeks before the first expected frost in the fall. Fall planting can be a bit tricky because the roots need time to establish and really dig into the soil before the rose plant goes dormant during the winter time.

Once you’ve selected the sunny, well-drained spot for planting, it’s time to prepare the soil. The way you plant a rose depends on whether it is bareroot or a container pot rose.

To plant bareroot roses:

Remove plants from their packaging and soak their roots in a bucket of tepid water for an hour.

Use a measuring tape to measure the length of the roots (from the tip of the roots to where the roots meet the stem).

Dig a hole that is two inches shallower than the length of the roots and twice as wide.

Apply 1.25 cups Espoma Rose-Tone around each rose and scratch the fertilizer into the top inch of soil to help ensure that roses receive ample nutrition while establishing new roots in the garden.

Using the soil mixture (or potting mix for containers), build a mound in the planting hole that almost reaches to top of the hole.

Spread the roots evenly over the mound.

Fill in the hole completely with more of the soil mixture, covering the roots. Pack it firmly.

Spread a 2-inch layer of mulch on the surface of the planting hole, to help conserve moisture in the soil.

Water thoroughly.

Planting roses that come in containers:

Remove the rose plant from the pot.

Use a measuring tape to measure the height of the root ball.

Dig a planting hole that is two inches shallower than the height of the root ball, and twice as wide.

Place the plant in the planting hole. The top of the root ball should be about an inch above the edge of the hole. (Soil will settle over time, so you don’t want to plant the rose too deep.)

Apply 1.25 cups Espoma Rose-Tone around each rose and scratch the fertilizer into the top inch of soil to help ensure that roses receive ample nutrition while establishing new roots in the garden.

Cover the surface of the planting hole with 2 inches of mulch, to help keep soil moist.

Water thoroughly. 

Growing Roses
Rose Protection


Roses need well-drained soil to flourish, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need water. Regular watering is especially important as roses are establishing new roots in the landscape. Roses are fairly drought-tolerant after the first growing season.

For the first 2 months after you first plant a rosebush, give the plant a deep, thorough soaking 2-3 times per week with a hose. If you reach your finger into the soil and the top 2 inches are still moist, however, wait a few days.

For the remainder of the first growing season, water thoroughly a couple of times per week. Once plants are established, the rule of thumb for watering roses is to make sure roses get about 2 inches a week. Deep soakings are much better than frequent, shallow watering. Set the hose at the foot of the rose and let water trickle in. Or if you have a big bed of roses or roses and companions, use a soaker hose or install an in-ground system.

Whenever you water, avoid getting water on the leaves (an invitation to disease) by directly aiming the water stream at the roots of each plant.


For an impressive show of flowers, a rose bush needs to be fertilized regularly. Organic methods provide a slow, steady supply of nutrients. 

Espoma’s organic Rose-tone includes more nutrients than any other rose food. Most rose fertilizers contain three nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K). Rose-tone goes far beyond that. This organic rose food contains 12 more micronutrients than roses need, including iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Feeding roses with Rose-tone is like providing a perfectly balanced meal. Your roses get all the nutrients they need to work as hard as they can.

Another benefit of organic rose foods, such as Rose-tone, is the gradual release of nutrients. Due to its slow-release formula, Rose-tone will never burn or leach plants. Plus, this is the only organic rose food that improves soil structure.

In beds, spread 6 pounds per 100 square feet. For individual roses, use 1¼ cups of Rose-tone per plant.

Now, let’s boost your roses and soil with organic feeding.

For established roses in beds, spread 6 pounds of Rose-tone per 100 square feet. For individual roses, use 1¼ cups of Rose-tone per plant.

Sprinkle the granular organic rose food around each plant out to the widest branch. This encourages your roses to stretch their feet and grow a little!

Then, scratch the food into the top 1” of soil.


Winter Rose Protection
Miniature Rose Plants


One of the great things about roses is they are almost impossible to over-prune. That said, there are a few tips and tricks to pruning rose bushes that will result in a professional-looking pruned plant. Pruning will also keep plants healthy and encourage them to grow. If roses are growing in an area where they will go dormant, prune in early spring. In any region, a light pruning all year long is fine and will keep plants looking trimmed and well-manicured.

To Prune Roses:

Remove all dead, damaged, or brown canes and remaining leaves.

Remove any crossing branches that may be rubbing against one another.

Remove all weak, thin growth. A good rule of thumb for established plants is if it is thinner than a pencil, cut it back.

Once all dead, weak, or crossed areas have been removed, prune the remaining canes. Make a 45°-angled cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch above a bud eye that faces outward. A bud eye is a small bump that is where a leaf would grow on a stem.

Seal the ends of new cuts with a pruning sealer compound to prevent rose borers and rot.