Many gardeners find climbing roses work best around iron fences, trellises, arches and gazebos. A trellis also helps keep climbers from sprawling over the wall.
Dig holes twice as wide and shallower than the root ball if planting a bareroot rose. Soak roots in a bucket of tepid water for an hour before planting.
Roses need a lot of sunlight to grow and bloom well. They also like to be planted in slightly acidic soil. A soil test is the best way to know where your roses’ pH stands. If the soil is too alkaline (sour), you can counter it with ground limestone; if it’s too acidic, apply ground sulfur.
Once your roses are planted, mulch around them with bark or pine needles or shredded leaves to conserve moisture and reduce weeding. Also mulch at the base of the plant to keep soil hydrated. Avoid overhead watering, which can lead to disease and root rot.
To prune your roses, first remove any dead branches or those that have become overgrown and unattractive. Then, cut away any lateral branches that point down or out, as they sap energy from the plant and give it an ugly appearance. Lastly, make the final pruning in late winter or spring, before growth starts.
Incorrect pruning is a major cause of foliar disease on roses. Remove all dead, damaged and diseased branches, especially those from the center of the plant, which sap energy away from the productive canes. Also, never compost diseased canes — they are harbingers of overwintering pests and diseases.
The proper timing for pruning depends on the type of rose. Floribundas and hybrid teas produce abundant flowers on outward-spreading stems; grandifloras bloom on tall, straight stems. Bush and tree roses should be pruned to leave three to seven healthy, evenly spaced canes of varying lengths depending on the vigor of the plant.
Trimming spent blossoms (deadheading) any time in the summer helps maintain the overall appearance of a rose bush and encourages more blooms. After the first frost in fall, prune bushes to reduce their height and eliminate any crossing canes. Always clean your pruning tools between plants to prevent the spread of disease. Fresh cuts should be sealed with a rose or general purpose pruning sealer to help protect against rot and cane borers.
To maintain your rose’s appearance, you will need to water it regularly. Use a garden hose with a gentle spray, instead of a harsh stream, which can damage roots close to the surface.
The best way to determine whether your roses need water is by touching the soil. If it feels dry to the touch, then it’s time to water. Avoid allowing the soil to become saturated with moisture, which will starve the roots of oxygen and cause root rot.
In hot climates, mulching the roses can reduce water needs by reducing evaporation from the soil. Well-aged manure, compost, or grass clippings are good choices for mulching.
Some gardeners in warm climates strip all of the leaves from their rose plants in early spring, a practice called “deadheading.” This forces the plant to go dormant for a short period of time and eliminates leaves troubled by disease or insect eggs. It is also a good opportunity to shape the plant.
Roses need a lot of nutrients to thrive. They’re heavy feeders that need plenty of compost, manure and granular fertilizer. Liquid fertilizers are a good choice as they deliver nutrients quickly. Organic options include fish emulsion, worm casting tea and compost. You can also choose organic or inorganic granular fertilizers.
Unless you have very nutrient-rich soil, use an organic liquid or granular fertilizer every five to six weeks. Be sure to water the soil well before and after applying. Avoid fertilizing after July since new growth may be damaged by frost.
Mulch around your roses to conserve moisture, reduce stress and weeds, and add a decorative touch. A 2- to 4-inch layer of chopped and shredded leaves, grass clippings or shredded bark works best. Avoid using hay mulch, which can attract aphids. For an extra boost in winter, apply a dormant spray to help prevent disease. Be sure to remove any dead blooms and cut out any thin or weak canes that are stealing energy from the productive ones.