Roses need lots of TLC, spring to fall


Have you been enjoying a colorful and fragrant summer with your roses? Many gardeners have at least one rose bush in their landscape. Whether they climb, bramble, creep, or stand tall, you have to give them a lot of attention throughout the growing season to keep them looking their best.

Pruning, dead heading

Roses like to be picked, plucked, and trimmed. The more you snip off the old blooms, the more you will encourage other blooms to grow. Ohio State University recommends removing tips of the faded blooms. Look for a cluster of three or five leaves on the stem and cut it right above it. You don’t want to remove too much foliage because the leaves are helping to feed the roots.

Here’s another important trick when you prune any plants in your landscape, especially the tender roses: always use clean and sharp tools. If you are getting rid of stems with black ends, you could be carrying a bad fungus from a diseased stem to a healthy one. Be sure to cut a couple of inches behind the diseased stem, then clean your blades with an alcohol swab between each cut.

Time for dinner

You pruned your roses in the spring, then gave them some fertilizer. Feed yours again once you see the blooms loading up on the stems. And now is a good time to give it a third feeding before they slow down in the late fall. But that is it until next spring. You don’t want to encourage any new growth during the cold months that could be damaged.

Many avid rose growers will put a weak formulation of their favorite fertilizer right in the water. This method gives your plant some nutrients at least every two weeks. Ohio State University recommends using composted manure as a fertilizer. Using composted manure as fertilizer is like giving your roses a gourmet meal that lingers in the soil longer than fertilizer applied during watering.


Deeply soak your roses every two weeks. Keep the hose going long enough to have the water reach the bottom of your plant’s rootball. The moisture needs to go down at least 10 to 12 inches to get there.

Use a drip hose or spray gently right at the soil line. Any water splattering on the foliage could cause disease problems.

If you water from the top of the plant, you could also be causing problems for your roses. If the leaves don’t get a chance to dry in the sunlight, you could be creating a moist environment in which bacteria can grow.

Always water early in the morning so the foliage will have a chance to dry during the day.

Check out these hips

If the blooms on your rose bush are fading, you might see the plant’s beautiful fruit. Once the flowers have been pollinated, the hips start to form. Once the flowers fade, the hard berries are left.

Most species will form hips if you let the blooms fade without deadheading. Some species of roses are grown especially for their hips.

Hips are used in many ways. You can make jams or jellies. Some have been used medicinally and, with a lot of patience, you can even coax the seed within to sprout.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at