Keep your rose-loving clients happy by sharing expert advice

Updated Dec 11, 2019
Rainbow Happy Trails is a new groundcover rose from Weeks Roses. Photo: Weeks RosesRainbow Happy Trails is a new groundcover rose from Weeks Roses.
Photo: Weeks Roses

Here’s some advice on caring for roses you may want to share with your clients or, for that matter, with your employees. It’s from Weeks Roses, one of the largest commercial rose growers in the country.

Roses often are called the queens of the garden. President Ronald Reagan even signed a proclamation certifying the rose as America’s national flower in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden in 1986. Millions of rose bushes are planted in American gardens every year

The experts at Weeks say many people believe roses are fussy and difficult to grow, but that’s simply not true.

“All plants need the right growing conditions to thrive, and roses are no different,” says Chris VanCleave, a rose expert known as the Redneck Rosarian. “If you provide the right conditions and the right care, rose bushes will thrive in virtually any garden.”

Here are five tips for growing healthy roses from Weeks Roses:

1. Select the rose that’s right for your garden.

There are more than 2,000 varieties of roses and new varieties are introduced every year. Different roses have specific needs and behavior. You might be tempted to select a rose solely based on its flower appearance, but a rose’s hardiness, disease resistance, bloom time and other factors are important to consider, too.

Many roses thrive in containers, such as Weeks’ variety, the “Cutie Pie.” Others, including the popular groundcover roses, make it possible to grow roses in surprisingly tough garden conditions.

2. Plant your rose in the right location.

The first step toward a healthy, beautiful rose in the garden is planting the right rose in the right place. A rose will never perform well if planted in a poor spot, no matter how much you pamper it.

Get your rose off to a good start by first selecting the right variety for your garden’s climate, and carefully planting it in a sunny location with good soil. Roses prefer locations that receive six to eight hours of sunlight in order to produce the most blooms.

Careful pruning helps to keep rose bushes healthy. Photo: Weeks RosesCareful pruning helps to keep rose bushes healthy.
Photo: Weeks Roses

3. Prune wisely.

Some roses bloom with a great flourish and they’re done for the season. Others are repeat bloomers, flowering continuously throughout the growing season. Once-blooming roses (such as antique rose varieties) should be pruned after they flower. Repeat bloomers can be pruned in early spring before they bloom.

4. Water deeply (but don’t over-water).

More roses die from over-watering than from under-watering. Once established, most roses only need to be watered once or twice a week.

For the healthiest plants, make sure to water deeply to encourage healthy root growth. Avoid watering with sprinklers or spraying the foliage with a hose, because wet leaves can invite diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew.

5. Fertilize, but don’t overdo it.

Roses are heavy feeders, but many gardeners use too high a concentration of fertilizer, which can damage plants. VanCleave recommends alternating between compost and a balanced fertilizer for the best results.

“Breakthroughs in breeding programs are producing much better rose bushes than our parents grew,” says VanCleave, whose own rose garden includes 160 bushes.

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