What do my roses want from me?
Not a lot really, just a lot of admiration and a little periodic maintenance. Here is my journal and timeline for the aspiring rosarian in you. If you follow this, you'll have copious blooms to enjoy both in and out of the garden. I think rose care gets a lot of attention and creates fear and hesitance from folks. There is a LOT of information out there about rose care that can be intimidating. It's really not that complicated and I am sharing my simple routine with you here. But first, a little eye candy!
This is David Austin's Tradescant Garden Rose--a stunning color of deepest magenta to burgundy, with a sometimes cherry-red slant on the outer petals.
My rose care begins in February or early March, when I prune them. This year, I pruned very hard, meaning I took most of the canes down to approximately 6-8 inches from the ground. I do not do this every year, but every 2 years. I believe doing this refurbishes the bush. It's like a shot in the arm for them, and although they won't achieve the heights in the canes this year, their overall health and vivacity are unparalleled to the years when I only remove about 1/3 of the canes. Now, there are exceptions to this rule. If your bush is struggling to grow, for instance, and seems just stunted and not vibrantly healthy, or if it is a young plant, I would just softly prune it. Also, some old style garden roses, the ones that bloom once a season, should not be hard pruned unless you're willing to risk far fewer blooms for a year because they sometimes depend on some of that old wood to put forth new blooms. But it keeps their graceful shape in check.
Following the pruning, it's good to put a nice thick layer of compost under them. Lots of reasons for this, but to name a couple, the compost works as a blanket and inoculates the good microbial things happening at your roses' feet, and it's also a great spring snack. Once they bud out, that's when I feed them with a good organic rose food. Make sure the danger of a hard frost has passed, because you don't want to encourage growth and bloom if they will just get frozen off. More eye candy here...!
Next, and at regular intervals, I treat my roses with a good all-around pesticide. Here is the product that I have used for many years and I absolutely swear by it!
Organocide 3-in-1 Garden Spray (this is a link to Amazin, where I receive a small commission as an Amazon Affiliate)
It is imperative to begin treatment of insects, fungus, and other diseases before we see them! It is a practice of good organic gardening to prevent, not treat. They way we can do that is by providing the plant the input it needs to keep healthy, such as compost, water, and food so that they can repel and sustain the occasional onslaught of fungus, mildew, rust, and insects. Give them the tools and they'll fight it! This is what I know—once you see the rust, black spot, thrips, etc. they are so very difficult to control. It's best to treat your roses with this product from day one once they bud out and continue every week to ten days with this.
Regular and deep watering. Do not water your roses from the top. Wet leaves = fungus, black spot, and mildew. Keep their feet free from weeds so they don't have to fight for nitrogen and other nutrients. Weeds also give pests another hideout and a stairway to your rose plants.
Cut some of your blooms and bring them indoors to enjoy! I absolutely love my roses in the garden, but there is nothing like bringing them into the house to enjoy their wonderful and varied fragrances & lovely colors and compositions.
There is no other flower so rewarding to grow. They are amazingly resilient, and proof of that is there is fossil evidence of roses from 35 million years ago! And what a reward for you when you see their spectacular blooms throughout the season, year after year.