How to Grow Drift Roses

Drift® series roses (Rosa x hybrid) provide flowers throughout the growing season and are resistant to common rose diseases like black spot and powdery mildew. These hybrids, a cross between miniature roses and groundcover roses, grow to a mature height of only 1 ½ feet and width of 3 feet. They are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 10. They are available in a variety of colors including coral, apricot, peach, red and pink. Popcorn Drift® roses (Rosa "Novarospop") start out yellow then age to creamy white.

Sunshine and Space

Plant Drift® roses in a sunny area where they will be exposed to at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. They can get by with only four hours of sunlight but they will grow more slowly and bloom less profusely. If sun exposure options are limited, four hours of morning sunlight is preferable to four hours of hot afternoon sunlight which will cause the flowers to be pale and fade more quickly.

Give each individual rose bush 4 feet of space to allow for at least 6 inches between it and other plants after it reaches its mature width.

Soil Drainage and Organic Matter

Drift® roses require soil that drains quickly and contains organic matter. Check the drainage capabilities at the intended planting site before planting the rose. Dig an 18-inch deep hole and fill it with water. If the water drains away within six hours, it is fine. If the water does not drain quickly, plant the Drift® roses in another area where drainage is acceptable, build a raised bed or grow them in containers with drainage holes.

Mix 2 to 4 inches of organic matter into the soil before planting the roses. Well-aged cow manure, sphagnum peat moss, composted shredded pine bark mulch and compost are all good for roses. Mix them into the soil thoroughly with a shovel or rototiller to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

When planting only one Drift® rose, the amendments can be mixed into the backfill soil at a rate of 2 parts garden soil to 1 part amendments. Use houseplant potting soil that contains coarse sand or perlite when planting a Drift® rose in a container. Garden soil does not drain quickly enough or contain enough nutrients for roses in containers.

Soil pH Requirements

Check the soil pH after mixing in the amendments as they can make the soil more acidic or alkaline. Soil pH test kits are available at garden centers. Drift® roses grow best in soil with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Adjust the pH of the soil by adding sulfur to lower it or lime to raise it. The amount of sulfur or lime needed to make the adjustment will vary, depending on the type of soil.

Sandy and sandy loam soil will require 0.4 pound of sulfur to lower the pH of 50 square feet from 7.5 to 6.5, while loam and silt loam soil will require 1.25 pounds of sulfur to make the same adjustment.

In order to raise the pH from 5.5 to 6, it will take 1 pound of lime per 50 square feet of sandy soil or 1.75 pounds for loam soil.

Mix the sulfur or lime into the soil thoroughly to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Soil amendments should be added and pH testing done as early as possible before planting Drift® roses. If the pH needs to be adjusted up with lime, it could take up to one year for the pH change to take place.

Moisture Requirements and Mulch

Water Drift® roses generously after planting to help settle the soil and give them a good drink. For the first year after planting, give Drift® roses 2 to 3 gallons or 1 inch of water per rose each week, unless this amount of water is supplied by rain. Divide the water into two to three applications, depending on how quickly the soil dries. From the second year on, give the Drift® roses 3 to 4 gallons of water each week in one to two applications. Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch on the soil around the Drift® roses to help conserve moisture, but keep mulch from touching the base of the plants.

Water Drift® roses planted in containers when the top of the soil begins to dry. This could be as often as every day, depending on how hot and windy the weather is. Pour water evenly over the potting soil until it runs out of the drain holes in the bottom of the container.

Fertilizer Requirements

Fertilize Drift® roses with 12-6-6 slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of spring when they start to put on new leaves and in the middle of summer. Use houseplant fertilizer for roses growing in containers. Sprinkle the fertilizer over the soil beginning 2 to 3 inches away from the base of the stems and extending out to a few inches beyond the outer edge of the stems. This is where most of the roots are. Sprinkle the fertilizer evenly over the entire soil surface area for container roses. The amount of fertilizer will vary, depending on the fertilizer formula, but a common rate of application is 1 teaspoon per rose. Water thoroughly after fertilizing.