Rose Bush Care


Latin Name Pronunciation: roe’zuh

Rose bushes are a rewarding addition to any home landscape, offering beauty, a long season of color, and classic fragrance that no garden should be without. Today’s Rose Varieties are remarkably carefree, demanding none of the fuss required of your grandmother’s plants. We are pleased to offer a wide array of types including:

Our selection includes Roses in an array of forms. Choose from compact sizes perfect for patio pots; climbers that bring color and texture to fences, arbors or trellises; medium-size shrubs well-suited to Rose gardens and mixed beds; and larger specimens that are ideal for creating colorful backdrops in mixed borders or defining property lines. The versatility and beauty of Roses means there are choices for every sunny spot in the garden. The only hard part is choosing your favorites.

How to Grow Roses

Today's Roses are easier to grow than you might expect.

  • The basic needs for Roses include plenty of direct sun and fertile, well-drained soil.
  • Roses tolerate a range of soil types (from sand to clay), as long as a little care is taken to prepare the soil at planting time.

We offer both own-root and grafted Roses.

  • Own-root Roses are plants grown from cuttings. They have their own root systems and remain true to the original varieties.
  • Grafted Roses are plants that have vigorous rootstocks fused to the top parts of other Roses that are valued for their flowers.

Planting Bareroot Roses

  • Before planting a bareroot Rose, remove and discard the packing material and soak the roots for a few hours.
  • Dig a planting hole that allows sufficient room for the depth and spread of the roots.
  • Add organic matter—such as compost or aged manure—and mix this into the soil dug from the hole.
  • Set the plant in the hole so that the top of the graft, or the crown of own-root Roses (the point where the stems of the plant meet the roots), is 3" below soil level in the North, and at the same level or 1" above where winters are mild.

  • Push the mix of soil and organic matter back into the hole, tamping firmly as you go. Water thoroughly.
  • Add a generous layer of organic mulch (compost or aged manure is best) to help keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Water thoroughly once every 2 weeks if rainfall is scarce throughout the growing season and into fall.

Planting Potted Roses

  • Check the moisture of the potting mix in the container and, if dry, water thoroughly.
  • Dig a hole wide enough and just deep enough for the root ball.
  • Add organic matter—such as compost or aged manure—and mix this into the soil dug from the hole.
  • Remove the plant from the container and gently break up the sides of the root ball with your thumbs and carefully untangle any roots circling at the bottom.
  • Set the root ball in the hole so that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the surrounding soil.

  • Push the mix of soil and organic matter back into the hole, tamping firmly as you go. Water thoroughly.
  • Add a generous layer of organic mulch (compost or aged manure is best) to help keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Water thoroughly once a week if rainfall is scarce during the growing season and throughout fall.

Growing Roses - Requirements

Best time to plant Roses: Roses are best planted in spring or fall when mild temperatures encourage the plants to develop root systems. We ship Roses for both spring and fall planting with our broadest selection available in spring. To ensure successful planting of any type of Rose, simply follow the easy guidelines laid out in our Grow Guides, which can be found on our website, on the product page for each Rose variety. The guidelines include light requirements, optimal soil conditions, ideal planting depth, and Rose Care tips to include watering, pruning, end-of-season care, and more. We do not recommend planting Roses in summer because the season’s high temperatures can stress the plants, urging them to push growth above ground before they have had sufficient time to establish supportive root systems.

Light: Roses grow best where they receive at least 6 hours of direct sun per day.

Watering: We recommend watering in the morning if possible so that the foliage doesn’t remain wet into the evening. If the weather is dry, water thoroughly every 2 weeks.

Fertilizer: Roses grow more vigorously, bloom more prolifically, and show greater resistance to diseases if fertilized during the growing season.

  • For best results, add a layer of compost or aged manure in early spring around the base of the plant. After the first wave of bloom, apply a bloom-boosting fertilizer (15-30-15).
  • For organic gardeners, we recommend adding a layer of compost or aged manure in early spring and applying an organic fertilizer after the first wave of bloom.

Pests & Diseases: The Roses we offer are selected for their vigor and their resistance to pests and diseases. 

  • Some Roses are prone to fungus problems (such as black spot) in hot, humid areas. Cleaning up old foliage from the base of the plant is important for disease control.
  • We recommend the use of environmentally-friendly horticultural oil and insect sprays listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
  • Japanese beetles may be handpicked or a systemic pesticide may be used. In spring, check for Rose slugs (sawfly larvae that appear as tiny, green caterpillars and skeletonize Rose foliage) and physically destroy them or spray with superfine horticultural oil.

Pruning: Prune Roses to remove deadwood, to control or direct growth, and to promote flowering.

  • Wait until growth breaks from the canes in early to mid-spring before pruning.
  • To train climbers in early spring, trim thinner side shoots from the base of the main branches. Attach new stems to their supports throughout the growing season.
  • If the Rose bush has become too tall, the stems may be cut back by one-third to one-half in early spring or after the first wave of blooms.
  • With the exception of the rugosas, which produce attractive hips (fruits), remove the spent flowers of reblooming Roses to promote more bloom.

Transplanting: Roses may be moved in early spring when dormant.

End-of-Season Care: In our experience, the best way to get Roses through winter is to choose plants adapted to your climate zone.

  • Mound 2 shovelfuls of bark mulch around the base of the plant before the start of winter. This added layer of protection is especially important for grafted Roses.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Rose bush not blooming?

  • Sunlight: Roses need sunlight, in northern parts of the country that means at least 6 hours per day and in southern zones at least 4 hours. The best blooms will come with more sunlight.
  • Compost/Fertilizer: Roses need nutrients available in the soil to produce flowers. Top dressing with compost or dried aged manure each spring is good for producing blooms. Rose fertilizer given several times per season is another way to insure that your plants will bloom. Rose fertilizer generally has a higher Phosphorus content versus Nitrogen and Potassium. White Flower Farm’s All-Bloom Fertilizer is an excellent Rose fertilizer.
  • Water: If you do not receive rain during the growing season it is important to water the plants thoroughly to keep them hydrated.

How do I make my Rose flowers bigger

Sunlight, water and fertilizer are all important for producing blooms and having the largest Roses possible. If any of the above are limiting, production and size will be reduced.

How to trim Rose bushes?

When trimming or pruning Rose bushes, be judicious. If you prune too hard in autumn, plants can be damaged beyond recovery. Instead, wait until spring, when plants begin to leaf out for the new season. (Roses are often not the earliest plants in the garden to respond to spring’s warming temperatures, so be patient.) Give the plant time to show its leaf buds then prune above that level.

Where to plant Roses?

Remember that light changes as the angle of the sun shifts throughout the season. If you live in the upper half of the U.S., choose a site that will offer full sun year-round. The more sun you have, the more flowers your plants will produce. In the lower half of the U.S., choose spots with a little bit of afternoon shade. This protects blossoms from the scorching sun and helps your flowers last longer.

What is the best kind of soil for Roses?

Roses love sandy soil. Amend your soil accordingly to provide the best footing for plants. Also choose sites with good drainage, which helps ensure that Roses overwinter more successfully. They do not like wet, cold feet.

What’s causing the holes in the leaves of my Roses?

If the damage results in a skeletonizing effect to the foliage (the leaf tissue between the large veins is eaten away), the damage could be caused by the larval stage of Rose sawfly (here in Zone 5 we begin scouting for this insect around Mother’s Day) or Rose chafers. Later in the season thrips may be the culprits. All of these insects can be controlled with a neem oil or Monterey Garden Insect Spray, or any insecticide recommended for Roses. While this damage is unsightly, it will only affect the overall health of the plant if the infestation is severe and is left untreated. How to grow Roses in cold climates: If you live in a colder climate, as we do here in Connecticut, try growing Roses close to the foundation of your home. This provides plants with some degree of winter protection. Walkways are also good spots provided there is full sun. This is generally defined as at least 6 hours per day of direct sunlight.

What are good companion plants for Roses?

Peonies, Clematis, Delphiniums, and Lilies bloom at the same time as Roses, and they make natural pairings. But there are many other perennials to consider as well. Use low-growing selections, such as Nepeta and Coreopsis, to plant at the feet of your Roses. Perennials such as Digitalis and Liatris complement Shrub Roses with their vertical forms, while Echinacea and Phlox provide lovely color complements.


How to Grow Roses - Video

How to Grow Roses Video Transcript

Hi Barb Pierson from White Flower Farm. Today we're going to talk about Roses, one of my favorite flowers and one of the oldest flowers and cultivation. They have a reputation of being very tricky. You see people out with their pesticides and pruning techniques, when in fact if you follow a few easy step,s they're actually really easy to grow and can provide beautiful color for you throughout the growing season.

There are four basic steps to successful Rose growing:  

  1. Plant your Rose in full sun. This means 6 hours of sun per day.
  2. Make sure you water and feed your Roses. They need water when it's dry and they need organic matter in the soil. This will make the nutrients available to them.
  3. The third thing that you want to do is make sure you don’t over-prune your Roses. The only time you should prune your Rose is in the spring. See where the new growth came out, cut out the dead wood, and you'll be good for the season.
  4. And the fourth thing is, your planting depth. Make sure you don't plant your Rose too shallow or too deep.

Roses can be bareroot. When you go to plant your bareroot Rose, remove the packaging and then soak the roots for several hours or even overnight before you plant it. So make sure your Rose is fully hydrated and then before you go to plant it, you want to cut out some of the old wood here. This is an example right here where you see the cane is brown versus the green cane. You want to cut off the brown cane before you plant it.

When planting your bare root Rose make sure you’ve allowed enough room for the roots and sink it down so that the canes are somewhat submerged, especially if you live in the north. Then you're going to layer soil and compost in alternating layers: dried, aged manure; shrimp and seaweed compost; or a leaf-mold compost that you’ve made yourself.

After you’ve planted your Rose, make sure you water it thoroughly. Get out your hose, really soak the ground, and then let the plant settle in. After that, it’s very important to water your Roses. And this applies to established Roses as well. Make sure that if you’re in a dry period, you don’t have rain for a week for example, make sure you water your Rose. They really do require water to stay healthy. An important fact about watering is that you want to water thoroughly when you water. Frequent light waterings cause stress for the plant and the roots won’t search for the water. And you want the roots to go down and search for water. So once a week in a dry spell make sure you’re watering thoroughly and then back off.

Even with existing Roses it's a good idea in the spring to put 3" of compost or dried, aged manure around the base of the plant making sure that you’re not mounding it on the canes. The organic matter is important because microorganisms help the soil. Then the nutrients are available to the plant. Compost and manure are the best thing that you can use on your Rose. Make sure that all of your organic matter is fully decomposed before you apply it to your Rose. What I do during the season is, I top dress with organics and then once a month, I use blossom booster.

Keeping your Roses healthy during the growing season will avoid many insects and diseases. However, a few insects and diseases may show up on your Roses, but you don’t need to panic. There’s a product that we use here in our greenhouses at White Flower Farm that you can use on your Roses that is organic, and it will kill insects by suffocating them, and it will provide a barrier for fungus not to germinate on the leaves of the plant. It’s called Saf-T-Side horticultural oil. This product is organic certified, and is something that we use in our greenhouses. You can use it on your Roses for blackspot and for aphids. We also use Neem oil, which is a natural product that deters insects from feeding.

Black spot is a fungal leaf spot disease of Roses. It’s very common. One way to avoid it is make sure that you water early in the day. You don’t want the Roses to go into the night time with water on their foliage. Water the roots, not the foliage. That will help you avoid black spot. Black spot can be detected by seeing dark splotches on the leaves. It won’t kill the plant, it’s just unsightly.

Roses We Offer:

Shop All Roses

 Rose Above and Beyond™ Rose Above and Beyond™
SKU: F66855
From $39.00
 Rose Peachy Knock Out® Rose Peachy Knock Out® SKU: F66878
From $39.00
 Rose 'New Dawn' Rose 'New Dawn' SKU: F66680
From $39.00

Rose Bouquets:

Shop All Rose Cut Flowers


Rose Companions:

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 Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' Coreopsis verticillata 'Moonbeam' SKU: F26817
From $16.00
 Nepeta 'Walker's Low' Nepeta 'Walker's Low' SKU: F34580
From $17.00
 Clematis Sapphire Indigo™ Clematis Sapphire Indigo™ SKU: F26533
From $25.00