Properly caring for roses

You don’t have to be a prize-winning horticulturist to keep roses healthy.

With the correct amount of water, sunlight and a little bit of grooming, your roses should thrive. Roses are hardy and resilient plants, so don’t be concerned about your gardening skills. Here’s some tips for caring for your roses.

Water your roses regularly

The rule of thumb for watering roses is to give them about 5cm of water each week. Deep soakings are much better than frequent, shallow watering. Set the hose at the foot of the rose bush and let water trickle in. Or, if you have a big bed of roses or roses and companions, use a soaker hose or install an inground system.

Feed roses consistently

You need to feed your roses consistently, particularly before and throughout the blooming cycle. Use an all-purpose garden fertiliser to add support for a healthy growth. Make sure it has a balanced amount of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium). Your nursery should be able to advise you. In spring, as the plant emerges from dormancy, you can water with a tablespoon of Epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) dissolved in about 3.5 to 4 litres of water to promote strong canes.

Groom your roses

This helps to improve flowering and keep the rose bush healthy.

  1. Remove dead canes down to the ground level.
  2. Cut back damaged wood into about 2.5 cm of healthy wood.
  3. Take off stems that are rubbing together (choose one and spare the other), stems that are taking off in the wrong direction, and stems that are trailing on the ground.
  4. Suckers look different from the rest of the bush, as they’re often smoother, straighter and lighter in colour. They also sprout leaves and occasionally flowers that look nothing like the main bush.
  5. Tidy up your roses for a cleaner, more bountiful rose bed. The goal of all flowering plants is to stop flowering and produce seed (or in the case of rose bushes, to make rose hips), removing dead flowers thwarts the process. So, the plant is fooled into making more flowers. This process is known as deadheading.
  6. Prune roses in early spring to destroy all old or diseased plant material. Pruning roses is a straightforward process: remove all non-negotiable growth, thin the plants and then shape them.