How to Maintain & Care for a Rose Bush

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Red rose bush
Red rose bush (Image: Trina Medina)

Learning how to maintain and care for a rose bush will ensure years of beautiful, healthy blooms and a gorgeous addition to your landscape, rose garden or yard. The most important thing is to choose a good plant and plant it properly. After that, the regular maintenance ensues, but roses can be very low-maintenance if they are started off on the right track in your garden. Do a little research as to the hardy types of rose bushes and how to improve your soil before you buy your first rose bush, especially if you are new to rose gardening. Here's how to maintain & care for a rose bush.

Things You'll Need

  • Rose bush
  • Soil
  • Sunlight
  • Mulch
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

Begin with a good rose bush. When ordering young rose plants through the mail or inspecting them at a nursery, look for signs of a healthy, hardy plant. Unpruned rose bushes should be at least two years old, field grown and with buds. Pruned rose plants should have thick stems of at least 1/4 inch diameter at the tips.

Choose a variety that will do well with your soil, zone and gardening ability. There are hundreds of varieties of roses from which to choose. Albas and Rugosas are able to produce dense shrubs with plentiful blooms even in poor soil conditions and thrive with even minimum effort.

Choose a good spot to plant the rose bush. Look for a sunny area with well-drained soil. Dig a hole for each rose bush you will be planting, ensuring that the holes are about six inches deeper than the length of the roots on your rose plants.

Prepare the planting holes by placing pebbles and rocks at the bottom to improve drainage. Mix a tablespoon of fertilizer with soil and compost and add a couple inches into the hole. Place plain soil on top of the mix, and then plant your rose bush in the hole. Pack soil firmly around the roots without damaging them.

Water the rose bush regularly as it becomes established. Natural precipitation will be sufficient in most areas once the rose bush becomes established.

Feed rose bushes with fertilizer and composted manure worked into the soil in the spring.

Prune your rose bush in the early spring when the buds begin to swell but there are no leaves on the stems yet. Remove dead wood and broken stems, cutting back to living material. Remove weak stems and shape larger ones to a uniform height or in a rounded shape.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't plant your rose bush in the lowest, wettest area of the yard. Rose bushes are not swamp plants.
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