ROSE PLANTING AND CARE
Roses love sunshine and grow beautifully here in Tucson. There are rose types to fit nearly any landscape application: groundcover roses for a carpet of color, tree roses for a touch of elegance, hybrid tea roses for cutting, floribunda roses for mass color, miniature roses for small spaces, climbing roses for architectural interest, and hedge roses for privacy and screening.
Basic Rose Requirements
- Sun Exposure – At least 6 hours of direct sun daily for optimum growth and flowering. Roses prefer afternoon shade and no reflected sun in the summer. Less than 6 hours of sun daily will inhibit flower production and pest resistance.
- Soil – Rich well-draining soil, high in organic material. Here in Tucson that means you must add mulch (compost) to our native soil at a 1:1 ratio.
- Space – Roses need space to grow without competition from other large shrubs and trees.
- Dig hole at least 2’ x 2’ wide and 18” deep;
- Blend ½ excavated soil with composted mulch in a 1:1 ratio;
- Backfill the hole with enough blended soil so the top of the rootball will be at ground level when planted;
- Tamp lightly or settle with water to remove air pockets;
- Place rose in hole and backfill with blended soil (1:1 composted mulch and native soil) and 3 tbs. of a slow-release fertilizer (like Osmocote Vegetable and Bedding)
- DO NOT place blended soil on top of the rootball; however, straight mulch may be applied up to 3” thickness.
- Water thoroughly.
In Decorative Pots
- Hybrid teas and grandifloras will do best over time in a pot of at least 18” diameter. Smaller pots may be sufficient but only for one or two growing seasons. Smaller roses (floribunda and miniatures) can be maintained in smaller pots indefinitely.
- Whatever kind of pot you use must have adequate drainage, and plants should NEVER sit in saucers filled with water.
- Fill pot with enough fresh potting soil so that the rootball will sit at least 1” below rim of pot.
- Gently place rose into decorative container and fill in with fresh potting soil and 3 to 4 tbs. of slow-release fertilizer.
- Water thoroughly.
- Proper watering of roses planted in the ground is critical! Newly planted roses may require water as often as every other day. Soil should be kept moist, not wet, and never allowed to dry completely. Pay attention to weather trends and adjust your watering habits accordingly.
- Roses in containers may require daily watering during the warmer months, less frequently in winter and early spring. Care should be taken to apply water evenly to all soil in the container. NEVER ALLOW CONTAINERS TO SIT IN SAUCERS FILLED WITH WATER. Containers drain best when placed directly on the ground. If you must use a saucer, dump out or siphon off (using a turkey baster) excess water that collects within minutes of watering your plants.
A Little about Fertilizers
Roses require an abundance of nutrients to flourish in our desert soils. Fertilizers should always be applied according to label directions. However, during the hot summer months of June, July, and August, the label’s recommended rate should be reduced by one half (½).
Here are your choices:
- Organic fertilizers can and should be applied frequently; they improve soil structure and quality while promoting optimum biological activity which enhances nutrient availability and uptake.
- Water-soluble powder and liquid fertilizers are available for uptake by the roots quicker than any other method. These are the best choice for container rose gardening.
- Dry chemical fertilizers take longer to become available to the plant but persist longer in the soil. These are applied less frequently than other forms.
- Chelated iron is recommended in addition to a complete fertilizer June through October. This will replace the iron that is being constantly leached out of the plant’s root zone by our warm-season watering practices and monsoon rainfall.
- Epsom salts are also included in a regular fertilizer regimen to increase basal bud break, encouraging shoot growth. The application for dry Epsom salts is ½ cup per large bush in late February, then again 6 weeks later. Mid-to-late September, right after pruning your roses back by one third (1/3), you may treat again with Epsom salts at a rate of 2 tbs. per gallon of water or with a water-soluble fertilizer solution.