31 Secrets to Growing Roses will give you the tips and tricks that seasoned gardeners have learned through trial and error.
“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so, he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.” – Henri Matisse
When I find a garden filled with roses, it takes my breath away. There’s something about these blooms that universally people love.
I couldn’t wait to move to my first house because I wanted to grow a rose garden.
I made my entire front yard a garden with raised beds and meandering paths that lead to the front door. The stars of my garden were the roses.
Most of my roses were various pink shades, with a few yellow ones thrown in for good measure. Some of the roses were picked for scent (hello David Austin!), and others I chose because of when they bloomed and for how long.
Even my garden entrance showcased a pink climbing rose over my white wooden arbor. What a way to make a statement!
Right before I moved from my house with the rose garden I got a knock at my door and I found three teenagers.
They wanted to tell me that they visited the island where I lived every year to see their grandparents, and they always walked to my house to look at the roses and take pictures for their social media accounts.
Yes, they were teenagers. I couldn’t have received a better compliment about my garden.
If you’re interested in growing roses in your garden, I put together some tips to help you succeed the beautiful journey into growing roses.
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Here are the 31 Secrets to Growing Roses:
Secrets to Growing Roses #1 – Get local advice.
You’ve got a world of resources at your fingertips. There are local garden clubs, rose societies, and online garden groups to ask what types of roses are local favorites.
When I decided to move to another state, I joined a Facebook garden group in the city I’m moving to so I could ask questions and find out what things grow the best in the area.
Looking at gardens in your neighborhood and getting to know your green thumb neighbors is always a good idea.
Secrets to Growing Roses #2 – Buy from a local nursery if you’re a beginner gardener.
Those garden catalogs are so darn tempting, but if you’re new to gardening, then it’s better to buy from a local nursery. You want to purchase a bush with blooms and buds to determine if you love the rose.
If you’ve already seen the type of rose you want in person, I read an article about a “rose whisperer” that said to buy bare root roses because you can see if the plant has a healthy root system.
You want the roots to be approximately 14″ in length and the top to be equal.
Make sure you buy a disease-resistant rose.
Secrets to Growing Roses #3 – Determine what feature is the most important to you.
When I designed my rose garden, I wanted gorgeous old-fashioned roses that smelled amazing and bloomed from spring to fall.
Not all roses are equally fragrant. I bought four rose bushes specifically for their fragrance. I wanted to smell them the moment I stepped out my front door.
If strong-scented roses are an important factor, make fragrance the key ingredient in your search.
Some varieties of roses only bloom once and put on quite a show. There are other repeat-blooming varieties that bloom over a more-extended period and will sometimes last into the fall months.
I wanted a little bit of everything, so I designed my flower garden so it was always in bloom. I also had my entire front yard dedicated to my flower garden, so I could have it all.
If you have a smaller space for your garden, pick the feature you prefer and design your space around it.
Design Secrets to Growing Roses
Secrets to Growing Roses #4 – Consider how your rose bush will look with surrounding plants.
For a visual feast, design your flower garden with colors that compliment each other.
You also want to make sure you consider how big all the plants you pick will get and how to layer the plants for the best results.
Rose bushes are gorgeous in the summer, but they are bare canes in winter. If you plant your bush in front of an evergreen plant, you won’t notice them as much.
Adding plants like catmint at the rose base will hide the bare roots. I had my Ballerina roses paired with catmint, and they looked beautiful together.
The only roses I had problems with growing was tree roses. Tree roses are the result of when you prune roses into a tree-shape.
I bought five because I was planning to make them into the focal points of my flowers. They all ended up dying and I will never know why.
That experiment ended up costing me a lot of money. I would caution you to learn from my mistakes and plant one section at a time and see how it does before spending a fortune on your garden design.
Secrets to Growing Roses #5 – Planting garlic near roses increase their fragrance
While researching information for this article, I stumbled upon this fun tip from the Herb Society of America. I had no idea!
It’s not just garlic that enhances the smell of roses, but all members of the onion family assist with this task as well.
Secrets to Growing Roses #6 – Planting climbing roses brings vertical dimension to gardens
Climbing roses draw the eye to the sky, making a garden seem more significant than it is in reality.
If you have a small garden, you can plant climbing roses on your fence walls, arbors, and trellises.
Planting Secrets to Growing Roses
Secrets to Growing Roses #7 – Spring and fall are the best times to plant roses.
If you’re planting in the spring, make sure you plant after the last frost.
For fall planting, make sure to get your rose bush planted six weeks before your first frost. Doing so allows the roots to grow enough before the dormant season starts.
Secrets to Growing Roses #8 – Roses CRAVE sunshine.
As a general rule, make sure your roses get at least 6-8 hours of sun a day. Study your garden before planting to make sure they are planted in the right spots.
Some roses require less sun, so make sure you check the plant’s requirements before purchasing.
A rose-growing expert suggested selecting a site with light shade in the afternoon. He said it helps the blooms stay fresher longer.
Secrets to Growing Roses #9 – Test the drainage of the soil.
An easy soil drainage test will indicate if the spot you have picked for planting your roses is the right place.
Dig a hole that is approximately 14 inches wide by 14 inches deep and fill it with water. Allow the hole to drain.
After the hole drains, fill it again with more water. If it takes a day or less to drain the second time, you’ve picked the right spot for correct drainage.
Secrets to Growing Roses #10 – Prepare soil for roses two weeks in advance.
Preparing your soil two weeks in advance helps release the nutrients and prevent air pockets.
Secrets to Growing Roses #11 –The right soil is everything to beautiful roses.
If you want to do things right, get your soil tested to ensure it has the proper nutrients. A soil pH of 6.5 is optimal for roses.
Roses grow much better in soil mixed with a minimum of 20 percent organic matter.
Some of the things you can add to your soil are aged manure, compost, peat moss, kelp meal, and alfalfa meal.
Adding organic matter will enrich the soil and improve water retention.
Secrets to Growing Roses #12 – Don’t plant roses close to other plants.
To prevent an error in gauging the amount of root span – assume the roots of the rose will extend as far as the leaf canopy.
A measuring tape comes in handy when digging your planting hole.
Secrets to Growing Roses #13 – Add phosphorus when planting your rose bush.
Another tip the “rose whisperer” said was to add a tablespoon or two of phosphorus when planting your rose bush.
Please make sure to use rock phosphate because it’s organic matter, where superphosphate is not, according to The University of Vermont.
Secrets to Growing Roses #14 – Bury the bud union.
You want to bury the bud union 3-4 inches below the soil level. The knot above the roots where the canes grow out is the bud union.
Burying the bud union helps prevent wind-rock. If the rose bush gets moved around, it cannot establish a sound root system.
Secrets to Growing Roses #15 – Make sure your roses are well watered.
There are varying opinions on the best way to water roses. Some believe that soaker hoses work best because you don’t want the water to splash on the foliage. Wet leaves and flowers encourage disease to happen.
A rose guru feels that a soaker hose can get clogged, and he didn’t trust that the water would get all the way down to the roots.
He put his sprinklers on at 4 am and give them a good soak in the summer months. By watering the roses at 4 am, the sun rising will dry the leaves without water.
Another option is to hand-water your roses. Hand-watering was my preferred method because I could make sure my roses were getting enough water, and it gave me the opportunity to take a look at each bush to make sure it was healthy.
Avoid watering in the heat of the day or right before evening.
Secrets to Growing Roses #16 – Fall is the time when roses go on sale
I looked at my local rose nursery, and they put their roses on sale the last week of September. They offered a 2 for one deal for amazing roses.
Please note that the selection won’t be as good as spring. But if you’re trying to save some money on landscaping your yard, waiting until fall is a perfect plan.
Fertilizer Secrets to Growing Roses
Secrets to Growing Roses #17 – Fertilize your roses with banana peels.
Here’s one of the secrets I used with my roses. I eat lots of organic bananas – and my roses loved me for it!
Banana peels are great for roses because they decompose rapidly. They release beneficial potassium and phosphorous minerals into the soil.
A good idea would be when you plant your rose bush to drop a banana peel in the hole before adding the rose bush.
A bonus to adding banana peels to your roses is containing a chemical that aphids hate. They also ward off a common fungus that roses can sometimes get.
Chop the banana peels up and bury one inch under the soil, and you’re all set!
Secrets to Growing Roses #18 – Fertilize roses coffee grounds
Coffee grounds lower the soil’s pH and attract worms that help fertilize and loosen the dirt. The coffee grounds are also rich in nutrients that are slowly released into the soil
Don’t put the coffee grounds directly in the soil; mix about a cup of coffee grounds with a gallon of water and water your roses with the mixture.
Slugs and snails hate coffee grounds because it’s toxic to these pests so they make sure to avoid it.
One of the things to consider is to make sure you add organic coffee grounds. You don’t want coffee beans that were sprayed with pesticides.
I was lucky enough to receive the organic coffee grounds from my local coffee stand.
Ask your local coffee stand what they do with their daily coffee grounds, and you might get lucky as well.
Secrets to Growing Roses #19 – Eggshells make a good fertilizer for roses.
Eggshells are an excellent source of organic matter that will help your roses grow to their full potential.
Eggshells are a good source of calcium, promote a robust root system, stabilize the pH level, help with healthy foliage, and are a natural deterrent against pests.
It’s best to crush the eggshells or turn them into powder instead of waiting until they break down by themselves.
Pruning Secrets to Growing Roses
Secrets to Growing Roses #20 – Don’t prune newly planted roses.
Wait one year before you prune your rose bush. It might be tempting to prune branches that shoot out in places you don’t want but try and resist that urge.
Give your rose bush time to establish itself first before giving it a trim.
Secrets to Growing Roses #21 – Prune to entice sturdy rose stems
When you prune your roses, you’ll want to cut back to a stem with a minimum of five leaves. The rose will put out a new branch strong enough to produce fresh blooms.
If you don’t prune your roses to this point, they will send out weaker shoots.
Secrets to Growing Roses #22 – Deadhead roses before they go to seed
When the rose bush’s energy goes into developing seeds, new growth is sacrificed. Deadheading spent flowers causes the rose bush to produce more rosebuds to create more seeds.
The best way to deadhead roses is to cut the stems that have finished flowers back to a bud that has a full leaf.
Natural Pest Control Secrets to Growing Roses
Secrets to Growing Roses #23 – Clean your tools
You want to clean your gardening tools after each use, especially if you pruned diseased parts of plants to stop the spread of the disease.
Make your cleaning solution with one part bleach to nine parts water. After you use the bleach mixture, make sure you clean it again with soapy water.
Secrets to Growing Roses #24 – Plant lavender near roses to deter rabbits.
I love the combination of lavender and roses together. If you have a problem with rabbits, lavender will help keep them away naturally.
Secrets to Growing Roses #25 – Use natural pest spray to get rid of aphids on roses
There’s a natural spray you can make at home to spray your rose bushes if you see signs of an aphid problem.
Mix 1/2 teaspoon of mild dish soap with one teaspoon cooking oil and one quart of water. Fill a spray bottle and spray liberally over the entire plant.
Secrets to Growing Roses #26 – Bring in the ladybugs.
Ladybugs love to dine on aphids. If you have a rose bush that has been affected by aphids, you’ll want to bring in some ladybugs to get them under control because aphids reproduce rapidly.
These wonderful garden partners will stay in the area as long as they have the aphids to dine on and shelter.
Secrets to Growing Roses #27 – Slug solutions.
If you have a problem in your area dealing with slugs, there are a few different ways to deal with these pesky snackers.
In a shallow dish, pour an inch of beer at the bottom. Snails and slugs are attracted to the yeast found in the beer. They will crawl in the saucer and drown.
You can also go outside with a flashlight at night, and hand-pick the slugs and snails. If you know someone with chickens, they will be a welcomed treat.
Secrets to Growing Roses #28 – Deterring deer solutions
I was fortunate enough to have plenty of dog hair that I mixed with my soil that helped deter the deer from eating my beautiful blooms.
Deer are sensitive to smells, so some of the things you can try are fabric sheets, garlic (this gives you even more incentive to plant garlic near your roses), and blood meal.
There are also deer deterrents available to buy.
Daily Care Secrets to Growing Roses
Secrets to Growing Roses #29
The “rose whisperer” I talked about earlier said to use sufficient nitrogen applied frequently in small doses. He regularly fertilizes because he loves large rose bushes.
Secrets to Growing Roses #30
Another tip the “rose whisperer’ gave was to keep his garden organically alive; he covers the soil with a 6 inch blanket of compost in winter. Then he adds smaller amounts throughout the year.
He adds ground forest bark and steer and horse manure to build back up his soil in addition to homemade compost.
Secrets to Growing Roses #31
Horizontally training your climbing roses encourages the most blooms. A trellis for the rose to climb is decorative and removable for wall maintenance.
Use plastic-covered wire ties for best results.
Best Books on Growing Roses – Click on the Links to view books on Amazon
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