Rose Care Year Round

Discover how easy and rewarding these lovely flowers are to grow.

By Annie ONeill


Once-flowering roses. Most bloom on the previous season's growth. Remove old, unproductive canes and spindly new canes after flowering. Do not deadhead (remove faded flowers); it prevents the formation of the attractive fruits known as hips.

Repeat-flowering shrubs. Deadhead all repeat-flowering roses. On plants with flowers that bloom in clusters, cut the entire cluster where the stem joins the cane.

Climbing and rambling roses. Deadhead repeat-flowering climbers. There's no need to deadhead ramblers. Continue training ramblers and climbers onto their supports.

Watering: Water established roses deeply at soil level (don't allow the leaves to get wet) once a week when it hasn't rained; twice a week for roses planted in spring.

Weeding: Remove weeds as necessary, and mulch around the base of your roses to discourage weeds from sprouting.

Feeding: Once-flowering roses. Don't feed them now. The compost or manure you spread each spring is enough for the year.

Repeat-flowering roses. Give these a boost with a dose of liquid fish or kelp. Just don't overdo it. Excessive fertilizer can lead to soft, weak growth that attracts insects.

Pests and diseases: If you start with varieties suited to your conditions and plant them in full sun, with fertile soil, steady air circulation, and plenty of water, you've taken the most important steps in preventing problems.

If your roses do suffer an attack, you can rely on the natural balance of your organic garden to minimize the damage. For example, encourage birds to visit your garden in winter. They eat bugs overwintering in soil and on plants. Here are specific treatments for common problems you can use when they are at their worst.

Cane borers. Borers burrow into canes, causing them to die back. Prune dead and dying canes back into green wood.

Japanese beetles. Eliminate the beetles during the grub stage using milky disease spores (see the August/September 2006 issue for information). Handpick adult beetles early in the morning.

Aphids. Wash aphids off the leaves and stems with a strong spray of water, or spray with organic insecticidal soap.

Mites. Spray canes with horticultural oil.

Fungal infections. Spray compost tea on both sides of the foliage. Always remove any diseased plant material immediately. Spray with Cornell Mix Fungal Spray:

1 tablespoon baking soda A few drops horticultural oil or Ivory soap

1 gallon water

Combine the ingredients in a gallon jug and fill a spray bottle with the mix. Spray susceptible plants every five days.