The Bloom is on the Rose

Rose bushes, wonderful in the garden, are surprisingly low maintenance.

By FamilyTime


Roses may be the regal queen of the florist, but they are pretty egalitarian in the garden. Small rose bushes work well in landscaping, and rambling, climbing roses make charming statements on fences and trellises.

You may have planted a few rose shrubs, or would like to. You may have inherited them with the house — roses tend to live for years if they find a happy home. Or, you may have avoided them altogether, thinking they are tough or fussy to cultivate, which just isn't the case for most rose bushes.

While midsummer is not the time to transplant roses, it is the time to deadhead, feed, water and mulch them. Pruning is best done in the spring and fall (with spring being optimal), although clearly damaged or diseased canes should be carefully excised whenever you see them.

There are few things you can do to insure your roses live long and prosper.

Deadhead the Roses

This means removing the flowers when the petals are just about ready to flutter to the ground, or right after. Use sharp clippers and snip at a slight angle just above a five-leaf cluster, if you can. Wear thick, protective gardening gloves.

The more you deadhead, the more the shrub will bloom. When you remove a spent bloom, the plant can direct its energy into producing more blooms.

Fertilize, Fertilize

Roses love to eat and benefit from regular feeding. This is truer in the early summer than later, but if you feed your roses once a month, they will thank you with gorgeous flowers.

They like fertilizers with a 5-10-5 or 5-8-5 balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The fertilizer can be liquid or granular and should be applied at the drip line, not up against the root. Fertilizers for roses are sold at garden shops everywhere.

Your rose bushes also do well when their soil is mixed with compost, seaweed extracts, and dry manure. All these amendments maintain good soil pH.

Water and Mulch

Roses are thirsty plants and don't do well in areas where rainfall is scarce (which is why you won't find them in the desert). Unless it's a rainy week where you live, water your rose bushes twice a week during the growing season. Soak the soil around the roots — halfhearted sprinklings don't help at all and might backfire as dampness attracts fungus.

A good layer of mulch does wonders for roses. It holds in moisture, discourages choking weeds, and mixes healthfully with the soil. You have probably mulched in the spring, but another layer as the summer progresses is a good idea. Don't pack mulch too closely around the base of the shrub but leave a little  "breathing" room.

The rose hybrids available at nursery's today are surprisingly hardy and range from small shrubs to climbing plants that scramble high towards the sky.

You can also buy what are known as old roses. These generally bloom only in the spring and are the darlings of avid rose gardeners, who prize these for their magnificent, showy blooms.

You may be more than satisfied with ordinary rose shrubs, which while not in the long-stem category, brighten up the garden. On the other hand, you may want to get involved with more esoteric varieties. Whatever your choice, deadhead, feed, and water your roses during the summer. And take time to enjoy their glorious blooms.