Rose Care Year Round

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

By Annie ONeill


Transplanting: Transplant roses in your garden in mid to late autumn. Cut them back to about half their size and move to a properly prepared site (see section on planting roses in spring) quickly, with as little root injury as possible. Water well.

Pruning and training: Continue deadheading repeat bloomers until about six weeks before winter dormancy begins in your region. Tie new growth on climbers and ramblers to supporting structures.

Fertilizing: Stop fertilizing at least six weeks before the average first-frost date in your area.

Winter Pruning: Cut back excessively long canes so that they don't whip around in the wind and rock the roots free of the soil.

Cleanup: Dispose of the fallen rosebush leaves, but not in your compost pile-- they may harbor diseases.

Cold protection: In freezing climates, after a couple of frosts, mound around the crown of your rose plants with a few inches of soil or lightly shredded bark. Shield vulnerable plants with burlap or protective rose cones.

Rest and dream: Congratulations! Time to relax and start dreaming about next year's show!

A Rose by Any Other Name
Reading labels when you're buying a rosebush can seem like learning a new language. But understanding the terminology helps you find the varieties that suit your purposes and conditions.

Floribunda: Bushes that range from 2 to 6 feet tall and equally wide. Most are cold-hardy. They bloom continuously in clusters of medium-size flowers. Many color options. For the flower border or cut flowers. Fragrance varies.

Polyantha: Smaller in flowers and in overall plant size, they are a scaled-down version of floribunda roses.

Hybrid tea: Also called large-flowered roses. Classic florist roses with large blossoms (one per stem) that become pointed toward the center, they range from 3 to 6 feet tall. Some are deliciously fragrant; many aren't. Best for cut flowers, as the plant itself isn't much to look at.

Landscape: A new type bred to be easy to care for and to look great in the landscape. Highly disease- and pest-resistant. Low-growing, with short flower stems that are not suited to bouquets. Continuous bloom spring to fall. Best choice for beginners.

Modern: All varieties bred after 1867, including hybrid teas, floribundas, and polyanthas. Come in both soft and bold colors, and fragrance varies greatly. Most repeat bloom.

Old garden: All varieties that existed before 1867, including China, damask, tea, and noisette types. They tend to have softer colors than modern roses and are often very fragrant. Most bloom once in spring. The types vary in cold-hardiness.

Species: Wild roses.