Gardening with Roses

Roses can be challenging plants to grow well. With a little patience, practice and information, you can become an expert too! There are many misconceptions on how to care for your roses during the summer months.



Cut and prune roses only in the spring.

Prune back roses 12 – 24 inches in the fall in zone 5 (Columbia County).  Other areas can wait until spring.

Plant roses in the ground so that their knob is exposed.

Mound soils from the surrounding area around the base of the bush, covering the knob, in zone 5.  Other warmer areas will not require this.

Cut down climbers in the fall.

Avoid trimming back climbers until the spring as new buds bloom on the wood of the previous season.  Brittle canes can be cut at any time.  Deadheading blossoms  will cause the shrub to produce energy for new growth rather than for seeds.  

Spray roses with a hose or circulating device during dry conditions.

Water roses by placing the hose near the base of the plant to avoid splashing the leaves.  Wet leaves encourage diseases including black spot and mildew that can lead to plant defoliation.

Use deer repellents (liquid fence, home-made remedies) as they wear off after the first rain and be ineffective.

Spray with commercial or home-made mixtures, as the treatment will endure many rains.  Application once a month, even during the rainy season, is usually sufficient to keep deer and rabbits away.  Don’t forget about the winter months.

Spread dried and decomposing leaves around the base of your bushes for mulch and rake them in the spring.

Remove decaying leaves in the fall that can putrefy plants and replace them with pine needles and clean straw or pine boughs as a mulch cover.

Plant roses close together to provide a showy bouquet appearance as they bloom.

Separate roses by 18 – 24 inches to minimize the spread of disease and to permit air flow and space to grow.

Fertilize your roses with systemic (8-12-4) well into November to invigorate and help protect them during their winter rest.

Discontinue the use of systemic mixtures in September, to permit specimens to rest during their natural dormancy.

Avoid planting miniature roses outside as they will not winter over in zone 5.

Attempt to grow miniature or “fairy” roses outside if you give them an early start and plant them near an outside wall or barrier. 

Purchase all roses at your local nursery, thinking they will survive in your zone without proper documentation.

Check to be sure the roses are hardy in zone 5 by reading the attached tags that should indicate the proper zone for survival.

Learn more about pruning roses. If you need help with your roses,  Wemple’s Landscaping has a gardening crew that would be glad to help you.