Planting Container Roses
If you have stored your container roses for a few days, soak the roots in water again before planting. If the rose canes are longer than 8 to 10 inches, prune them back to about 6 inches to help the plant concentrate on developing the roots.
- Dig a hole 12 to 18 inches deep. Make sure it is wide enough to allow the plant’s root system to easily develop after planting. This will make a stronger plant. Loosen the bottom and sides with your shovel.
- Fill the hole with water. It should drain in one hour. If it doesn’t, dig deeper and improve the drainage, or mound the soil and plant the rose in a raised bed. Work in one part organic material such as peat moss, leaf mold, compost, sawdust, or well-rotted manure, to two parts soil. A pH of 6.5 is best for roses. We’ll be happy to help you is your soil needs adjusting.
- Trim off any broken roots or stems. Build a mound of soil in the hole to support the roots and hold the plant at the proper height, with the bud union at ground level.
- Holding the plant firmly in place, fill the hole two-thirds full of soil mixture and tamp down lightly to remove any air pockets. Fill with water and let soak in, then fill the hole with soil mixture and firm gently.
- Your plants will leaf out faster if you mist the canes with water as often as possible while they are getting started. Roses need plenty of moisture, both above and below the soil, to fully develop in their new location
It’s important to replace the nutrients your roses take from the soil through the growing season. Once your roses are fully leafed out, apply a balanced fertilizer to each plant, in a circle a foot or two from the base of the plant. Here is a basic schedule for rose fertilizing:
- Fertilize when plants are in full leaf.
- Fertilize again after the first bloom.
- Fertilize 6 weeks before the anticipated first frost. (But not after Sept. 1 in most areas.)
- For the proper hardening of canes in the winter, do not fertilize late in the fall.
We prune roses to promote their health, vigor and to give them direction – to tell them how and where to grow. Pruning give the plants a shape, a style, removes unproductive wood and provides good air circulation.
When to Prune:
The best time to prune is before new growth starts in the spring, sometime after the last killing frost. Once the growth is 2 to 3 inches long, you should not prune, since there can be significant damage from breakage. Fall pruning is necessary only when plants are extremely tall, to prevent wind damage during the winter.
Use any pruning shears designed for roses. A 2-inch blade gives the best results, or use long handled lopping shears for larger canes.
What to Prune:
Weak or diseased canes. Winter-damaged wood, which looks brown on the outside, light brown and dry when cut, should be cut off 1 to 2 inches below the damage. Any branch crossing or rubbing another should be removed – always leave the newest, healthiest cane.
When in Doubt:
As a general rule, if you’re not sure what to cut, wait. You can always make more cuts later when the bush has leafed out and you can see its shape more easily.
How to Prune:
- Trim twiggy top growth by about a third so you can see the structure of your plant.
- Take out dead wood, canes that cross the center of the bush, and any shoots (suckers) growing below the bud union.
- Shape the plant by removing some canes. You are safe in cutting back to 5 – 10 strong canes.
- Cut 1⁄4” above dormant bud eyes that face the outside of the bush. New growth will come from these eyes.
- Any shoot that grows from below the bud union of a grafted rose bush is called a sucker. These should be removed, since a sucker will not produce the same bulbs as the upper part of the plant, and will rob it of strength.
To help reduce dieback and protect canes for borers, paint the pruned ends with a commercial cane sealer, white household glue or clear nail polish after cutting. This is added protection against disease.
Tips for Great Cut Roses:
Cut roses in early morning when the moisture level and sugar content are highest. Use a sharp pruner or knife. Make an angle cut just as the outside petals begin to open. Always leave at least two sets of five leaflets on each stem, so new flowers will develop.
Remove thorns and leaves which will be below water level in the vase, and immerse in warm water. Recut stems under water. Add a floral preservative to the water to make blooms last longer.
For more beautiful blooms, pinch out smaller buds leaving only the top bud. This will concentrate the plant’s energy in to producing fewer but larger blooms.