Let's face it - Roses need a little care. Maybe this is one reason they do not seem to be as popular with gardeners as they were ten or so years ago. It may also be we don't pick the right varieties or give them just that little care they need to remain attractive and full of blooms.
A good rose maintenance program starts each year with a late winter pruning. It may seem a bit brutal but the bush types often known as hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda roses are pruned back between one-third and one-half. All the dead or declining shoots are removed and the plants are limited to five or so good strong canes.
Shrub roses and miniatures are often pruned at this time too. This can be just a grooming to remove out of bounds shoots and old flower heads. Many are actually sheared to the desired size. Climbing roses receive very little pruning and it normally amounts to a grooming. Most pruning with these plantings is performed after the spring flush of blooms. Also the old canes are left as long as they are not diseased or showing signs of decline.
Roses are going to need your attention throughout the year. Some varieties are a bit more carefree than others but all should have the old flowers removed and declining portions trimmed off as needed. Here are a few more tips to have good roses just about year-round.
- Feed monthly with a rose fertilizer or general garden fertilizer.
- Maintain a 2- to 3-inch mulch over the root system
- Water as needed to keep the soil most - use microsprinklers where possible.
- Control black spot a disease - some varieties are more susceptible to this disease than others.
- Control insects including aphids, thrips and caterpillars.
Some rose care products are available to help keep regular maintenance to a minimum. Some contain fertilizer plus insect and disease control products. To be effective these should be used regularly following label instructions. Still you have to stay alert for pests that may not be controlled and apply extra treatments as needed.