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The Rose Care 101 Guideline

Weston nurseries Garden Guidelines


Rose Care 101

Care & Selection Guidelines

Roses are one of the most recognized plants in the garden. Roses have been around for a very long time and are very easy to grow and maintain. It can become very overwhelming when you come to the garden center and must decide which type to select and how to care for them.

Every year new roses come out and they are bred to give us a different color, better fragrance, disease resistance, or lower maintenance and repeat blooms. Some of the older varieties are still tried and true and are just as nice as the newer varieties. Roses are grouped into different Classes or Collections based on their growth habit, flower type, and functionality in the garden. Also many growers and breeders have created Rose brands so that consumers can be confident in their purchase. I will explain all this to you so you can have a better understanding in order to pick out the best roses for your landscape and gardens.

Roses, the “Queen of the Garden” are easy to care for if you follow the few simple steps listed below. Then I have information about all the various classes, collections and brands available to select from. When selecting a rose first think about what color you want, then what the application will be. After you have figured out that information your selection will be much easier to do.

Miss All American Beauty Rose

Selecting a Site

Roses need at least six hours of full sun a day, preferably in the morning. The morning sun gives the foliage the whole day to dry from the morning dew, reducing the risk of diseases. If possible try and plant your roses away from areas where they will have to compete for nutrients and water from large trees and shrubs. Strong winds can also damage and destroy open flowers, so try and place them in a somewhat protected area, possibly by a fence, hedge, house or other barrier.

Spacing Roses

Proper spacing of roses depends upon which variety you choose. In most climates hybrid teas, grandifloras and floribundas will do well with at least three feet between them. Shrubs, old-fashioned or antique roses usually grow larger and need more space depending on their mature size. 4’-6’ would be best. Climbers along a fence or trellis can be placed 8’-10’ apart giving plenty of room for them to be trained to spread. Miniature roses need about 18-24” between them depending on maturity size.


The soil should be light and rich. Improving the soil is easy. Mix in organic matter such as Coast of Maine Compost, Bumper Crop or Fafard Complete Planting Mix. Roses don’t like wet feet or to be in standing water, improve soil drainage and loosen heavy clay soil by adding gypsum or Jonathan Green Love your soil. When planting initially we recommend fertilizing with Espoma Biotone.


Provide a slow, deep soaking with each irrigation. Sandy soils require more watering than clay soils. Hot temperatures should prompt more frequent irrigation. Try to water the soil and not the foliage otherwise diseases could spread throughout the plant.


Weeds will fight with rose’s roots for water and food while creating a breeding ground for insects and diseases. Remove them carefully by hand or with a hoe. Mulch not only can help prevent weeds from growing, but also keep your soil cool, retain water for moisture and in some cases helps enrich the soil as it decomposes. Mulch will also insulate the roots of the plant in the wintertime.


Use a prepared rose food such as Espomas Rose Tone (6-6-4) or a balanced fertilizer like 5-10-5 or 8-8-8. Roses are heavy feeders and should be fed once a month beginning in April right through August. We do also have two different products that contain fertilizer with insect/disease control. The first one is a granular rose food with systemic insecticide by Bonide called Systemic Rose & Flower Care 8-12-4 which protects the plant against insect damage and feeds for up to 8 weeks. The second is Bayer Advanced Rose a& Flower Care 9-14-9, 3 systemic products in 1. Carefully read and follow any and all directions on the fertilizer you choose.

Insect & Disease Management

Many of the new roses are considered disease resistant. This by definition doesn’t mean they won’t get any diseases. If the weather is favorable and the plants are stressed your disease resistant roses may still get common leaf disease issues. For older varieties that can be susceptible to leaf diseases it is recommended to spray a fungicide during wet and humid conditions. For insect control you should spray once you see evidence of either holes or speckling in and on the leaves or you see actual insects on the plant. If you are unable to diagnose the pest, please email a picture or bring a small sample for us to identify. Once proper identification is done we can offer the proper control product for you.

Many gardeners will spray their roses with either Bonide Rose Shield or Bonide Rose Rx 3 in 1 on a regular basis to control and protect your roses from both insects and diseases. Spray preferably in the morning and not in the heat of the mid-day sun. Depending on the product, please read the label as to how often to spray.


Pruning (or “dead heading”) finished flowers help promote new growth and gives you blooms throughout the season. All cuts should be at a 45 degree angle about ¼ of an inch above a healthy leaf with FIVE leaflets. All cuts should face downward (away from the leaf pocket) so water will run off. Using the right tools will get you off to the beset start. Use pruning shears with curved-edge blades or “By-pass” pruners, not the straight edged anvil type which can possibly crush the stems causing damage while they cut. Canes with jagged edges do not heal properly allowing disease and insects to get into the plants. Pruning gives you an annual opportunity to correct, adjust and modify the growth of your roses to increase their flower production. But in all cases it enhances the architecture of the plant, ensures a vigorous first bloom and encourages new growth from the bud union.

Many of the Next Generation Landscape Roses, Proven Winner and Star Roses have been bred to repeat bloom without pruning. Although they will continue to flower without pruning spent blossoms, you will see an increase in flower product when you prune the old blossoms.

General Pruning

General heavy pruning should be done before the plant breaks dormancy after spring’s final heavy frost, typically in March or April. Most rose bushes before should be cut back 2/3 of the way except climbers and shrub roses. Climbers can be left alone or cut back up to but not more than 50% and shrub roses should be cut back no more than a 1/3rd of the outside growth. Old fashion roses should be pruned after blooming. They bear flowers on last years’ wood.

Remove all dead or diseased canes by cutting flush with the bud union. Prune back any broken or injured canes below the injury. Remove and canes growing into the center of the plant that would cause a crisscrossing of branches. By removing those branches you are allowing the plant to receive better air-circulation which reduces the chance of disease.

Winterizing Your Roses

There are several methods of winter protection you may choose. One would be to mound soil or compost over the bud union keeping it warm throughout the winter months. Remember in the spring to pull back the soil or compost in the spring when the new growth starts and you begin to water regularly. After applying the soil I recommend mulching with straw all around the branches. Another would be to place four stakes around your plant and make a shower curtain with two layers of burlap (not touching the plant). This will create a curtain effect and protect larger plants form any wind burn. Driving wind can cause much damage by sucking the moisture right out of the plant. We do supply these little pop tent coverings which also can go over the roses and protect them from the wind and cold too.

Many of the roses not grafted have a better chance of winter survival. That being said I have seen rabbit and voles feeding on the main trucks of roses during the snowy winters and the roses have died because of that. You may want to protect your roses with repellents in that case.

Classes and Collections

Garden Roses:
These are the old fashioned Roses that made your mother’s or grandmother’s garden shine! With a dizzying array of flower forms and colors, Garden Roses are grafted on non-hardy rootstock because of their inability to root on their own.

This rootstock requires extra overwintering care to ensure these colorful plants survive to rock out in the garden the next year. There are three (3) flower from groupings in Garden Roses:

Hybrid Tea Garden Roses:
Distinctive and singular, this is the true cutting Rose with a huge, single bud held aloft on long, straight stem.
Hybrid Tea plants to be tall, narrow and upright along with being elegant and timeless!

Floribunda Garden Roses:
Flower buds on this type or Rose are arranged in bunches that open to create a mass of smaller flowers with significant but lower petal counts that create a mass of landscape color.
Floribundas tend to be more compact plants than Hybrid Teas or Grandifloras.

Grandiflora Garden Roses:
The best way to describe this type is to think of it as a combination of the Hybrid Tea and Floribunda form. Hybrid Teas size buds group together at branch ends which open to display large clusters of color.

Stems are long like Hybrid Teas meaning you can cut a bunch instead of a single bloom! Plants tend to mimic the size of Hybrid Teas.

David Austin Roses:
David Austin Roses burst onto the scene in the 1980s and created a whole new class of Roses called English Roses that have become a worldwide sensation. David Austin Roses are known for:

  • Huge flowers with incredible petal counts
  • A full selection of colors and plant sizes
  • Noticeable to garden filling flower fragrance
  • Better disease resistance than regular garden Roses
  • Long season of re-bloom
  • Incredible garden elegance
  • Some varieties can climb and others grow more like a shrub rose

Climbing Roses:
Climbing Roses are distinguished by their long, rambling growth that makes them perfect for using to grow over archways, trellises and fences.

While they are not vines, their growth is easy to train along these structures to create a colorful, long lasting wall of color that other vines just can’t match.

Own root- Own Root Climbers that are more cold-hardy and require little in the way of winter protection.

Grafted- Grafted Climbers that are colorful and top hardy as long as additional care is given to protect the graft union at ground level from winter’s cold.

Rugosa Roses:

  • Great plants to use in sandy soil and commonly seen beach type location.
  • Beautiful orange hips (past flowers) in the late summer and fall add interest to the landscape.
  • Very hardy and rugged.

Ground Covers:

  • Low growing plants for slopes and hillsides.
  • Can be kept lower by pruning annually
  • Some brands are Flower Carpet, Happy Trails, Meidiland, Drift or Oso Easy


  • Compact forms or roses which are great to use in small spaces.
  • Many can grow well in containers
  • Low maintenance

Hardy Landscape Shrub Roses:

  • Tough and tenacious yet colorful, these roses exhibit:
  • Good to excellent cold hardiness
  • Strong spring bloom followed by times of re-bloom in the summer & fall
  • Smaller flowers with lower petal counts and incredibly reliable bloom
  • Easy care with no sprays or complicated upkeep
  • Strong performance in some of the toughest landscape spots
  • Good disease resistance

Next Generation Landscape Roses:

Roses with a lot of the same toughness as the Hardy Landscape Roses but with more refined flowers and longer bloom times.

  • Good to excellent cold hardiness
  • Strong spring bloom and dependable, considerable re-bloom throughout the season
  • Larger flowers with more petals with many plants taking on the flowers forms that used to be found only in Garden Roses
  • Easy care with no sprays or complicated upkeep
  • Strong performance in some of the toughest landscape spots
  • Great new genetics that have enhanced color and disease resistance

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