How to Care for Your Rosebush and Keep the Roses Beautiful

Who can resist the sweet smell of a rosebush? Here’s everything you need to know to care for these beautiful flowers.

By Tina Jepson


Aside from their distinct smell, roses are the perfect flower if you’re looking for something to grow in just about any condition. As a bonus, their fragrance is matched by their unique and intense beauty. Whether you’re looking to grace your backyard with white blooms, trail pink flowers over a wooden trellis, or adorn your garden beds with bursts of pure yellow, consider roses.


I bet you’re thinking: “But aren’t roses everywhere?” I get it. They really are! But think about it. There are legit reasons roses are found in backyards and commercial landscape beds around the world. They’re a versatile and remarkable flower worthy of being virtually omnipresent.




Don’t forget about roses when you’re thinking of ways to incorporate a bit of color around your home. Here’s everything you need to know to get started growing and caring for roses.


Rose Shapes

There are hundreds of rose varieties and most come in one of these three shapes:


  • Shrubs: Shrubs usually offer a steady output of beautiful rose blooms from late spring through the middle of fall. They can grow upwards of 6’ or more and need a span of at least 3-4’ to spread out.




  • Trees: Rose trees are created using a single rose stem (“cane”). From there, the stem is pruned and shaped accordingly. Expect a rose tree to reach around 5-8 feet in height.




  • Climbing: Once a climbing rose plant is established, you’ll notice vivid, full blooms beginning in late spring. Because they grow quite high (20 feet in some cases) they require a sturdy support such as a trellis.




Rose Likes & Dislikes

Consistent moisture: Roses need water, especially when you’re first establishing your plants. However, drainage is also key. If your soil doesn’t drain well (such as hard clay soil) then add mulch to help with water retention and draining. A good rule of thumb is to keep the first 1-2 inches of soil moist, but not oversaturated.


Sunlight: It’s true that some varieties of roses can survive in shaded areas, but these are few and far between. Your roses need sunlight — lots of it. Aim for at least 8-10 hours.




Nutrients: For a natural way to help achieve a steady pH between 6-7.5, try adding 3-4 inches of organic compost. In addition, if you notice that your plant isn’t blooming as it should, add some fish fertilizer or bone meal.


Room to Grow: Avoid overcrowding your rose plants or they’ll just end up competing for resources.




Dealing with Disease

Like almost all other plants, roses are susceptible to disease. If you notice a powdery flour-looking fungus, white blotches, or dark black spots, treat your rose with a strong fungicide. Fungicides are available at most nurseries and home improvement stores, or you can make a fungicide concoction at home by mixing liquid dish soap with baking soda and water and applying it liberally to the diseased leaves.




Remember, your best bet is to remedy the problem before it’s too late.





It’s always best to prune your roses every spring before the final frost. Using sharp pruning shears, cut away dead or small, weak stems at a slight angle.




Then, take a look at the bottom of your plant. If you pruned last year, then the place where you made the cut may jut out slightly. Ideally, you want to prune above last year’s cut, leaving at least one or two leaflets to remain.


Winter Preparations

Depending on where you live, you may have to prepare your rosebushes for a long, cold winter. To be on the safe side, cover the base of your plants with soil and then add an additional layer of mulch or leaves to protect the majority of the plant.  




New plants that haven’t been established for at least a year need a little extra treatment. Consider wrapping them in burlap, plastic, or branches from an evergreen tree to protect them from the elements.




No matter where you live, roses are the perfect addition to your landscape. After a year, caring for your roses will become second nature and before you know it, they’ll be thriving and producing perfect rosette blooms.




Images used with permission, courtesy of Tina Jepson,, and

Next: Greenhouse Alternatives that Can Be Done at Home