Pictured: Rosa 'Peace'

Caring For Your Rose

Although roses have a reputation as being fussy, or high-maintenance, they actually tolerate a wide range of conditions, and are worth the effort for most sunny gardens. For best results, keep in mind the following:

Routine Care

  • They usually prefer an open site in full sun. This means a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sun, and avoid crowding them against the house or other plants.
  • Although the best time to plant is late-autumn or early spring, roses can be planted from nursery containers throughout the summer, if kept watered afterward.
  • They do best in somewhat fertile, compost-rich, moist but well-drained soil. Before planting, amend soil with any well-rotted manure, compost, or Canadian peat moss, and mix well with your existing soil to a depth of about a foot. Mulch with 2-3 inches of wood chips, or shredded bark or leaves after planting, and soak thoroughly – twice.
  • Tie the canes of climbers loosely but securely to a trellis, fence, or other sturdy support.


  • Pruning in northern climates should be carried out in early spring, after protective mulch is removed, but before the leaf buds open, at about the time Forsythia begins to bloom. Roses in warmer climates may need less pruning, and this can often be done earlier, in late winter.
  • Dead wood can and should be removed at any time. Don’t leave stubs.
  • Hybrid tea roses and grandifloras may be cut back to about a foot high. Remove all but 4-6 well-spaced, outward facing stems, and cut these back to an outward facing bud. In warmer climates, canes may be reduced to 1 ½ – 2 feet long. Remove any shoots thinner than a pencil.
  • Floribunda roses should be pruned to 12-18 inches in early spring, cutting back to outward facing buds. Remove any shoots thinner than a pencil.
  • Miniature roses should be trimmed back by 1/3 – ½ in early spring.
  • Groundcover roses should be trimmed back in spring to outside buds, to accommodate their growing space. Shorten side shoots to thin out congested plants.
  • Climbing roses should trained onto a support for the first two years by tying the canes loosely to the structure, and removing only dead or damaged stems. Starting in spring of the third year, trim back main stems to accommodate their support, if needed; side shoots may be cut back by 2/3, or to 3-4 buds.
  • Shrub roses should be pruned lightly in summer, after flowering, by pruning back canes by up to a third, if needed, and trimming side branches by ½ – 2/3.