How to Keep Roses Alive

Roses are a wonderful flower to have around your home, but they need some care to stay fresh. With these tips, your flowers will last longer!

The first step to keeping roses alive is watering them regularly. It’s also important to keep your vase clean and free from germs.


Roses can’t grow well without water, so be sure to keep your garden well irrigated during hot and dry weather. It’s best to water at least once every five or six days, depending on the climate you live in.

When you do water your roses, give them the right amount of water and use the proper watering method. Avoid heavy applications that could erode the soil and cause root rot or shock. Instead, use drip irrigation or a hose with low-pressure jets.

Make sure the water you apply is deep and thoroughly soaked. Usually, this means 18 inches (45.7 cm) of soil is wetted at each watering.

You can also use a mulch to help keep the soil moist and weed-free. A layer of 2 to 3 inches of wood chips, shredded bark, pine needles, or cocoa bean hulls can protect the soil from drying out and help control weeds.

Fertilizers can also help the growth and health of your roses. Organic fertilizers are a great choice because they slowly break down and release nutrients for plant uptake without damaging the soil.

They are usually applied at planting time and before the roses first bloom. For added protection, stop fertilizing about 35 to 40 days before your average first frost date to help prevent new growth from being damaged by freezes.

In addition to fertilizing your roses, you should spray them with fungicides to control diseases that affect them. Fungicides are available at most garden centers.

The spraying can be done once a week until the disease has been completely eliminated from your roses. You should also try to get rid of any aphids that might be in the area.

Another way to keep your roses healthy is by adding a pH-boosting ingredient like vinegar to the water you water them with. This will raise the soil’s pH, which can increase nutrient absorption by the roots.


Roses are very heavy feeders and require the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to thrive. If the soil doesn’t have adequate levels of these three minerals, roses will grow yellow leaves with stunted growth or bloom fewer flowers.

Using organic fertilizers will supply roses with the essential nutrients they need without harming the environment. They also break down slowly and are long-lasting in the soil, releasing their nutrients as they’re needed.

There are many types of fertilizers available, including liquids and granules, and each has its own unique properties. Liquids, which are a convenient way to apply a large amount of fertilizer at one time, deliver the nutrients directly to the roots.

The other type of fertilizer is soluble powders, which can be mixed with water and applied to the rose plant. This is a great option for sprinkling around the base of the plant or spraying on the foliage.

Ideally, you should apply a small amount of fertilizer to your rose plants at least once every two months. This will keep them healthy and growing strong, as well as giving them the energy they need to bloom.

You should avoid over-fertilizing your roses, however, as they’ll burn the edges of their leaves or turn brown and scorched if you overfeed. This can lead to disease, and may even kill the plant altogether.

If your roses are in need of a little help, consider applying a balanced rose fertilizer with a low nitrogen level and a high phosphorus and potassium content. These nutrients will stimulate flower buds and leaf development, promoting more flowers and bigger leaves.

Fertilizers are available as liquid or granular formulas, or as slow-release tablets that can be sprinkled on the ground. They should be added to the soil when planting a new garden bed, or applied at intervals during the growing season.

In addition to providing the basic nutrients, fertilizers should also include calcium, magnesium and sulfur. These minerals are important for photosynthesis, a process that produces the energy needed to make new leaves and stems.

Soil amendments, such as compost and mulch, are also important. These help to improve the soil’s ability to hold water, and can help keep rose roots cool during hot weather. They also help prevent weeds from growing in the space around your roses.


Pruning roses is a vital part of caring for the plants, as it promotes new growth, removes dead or diseased canes and trains the plant to a desired shape. It also encourages flowering and helps keep modern rose varieties from becoming prone to diseases.

Climbers, ramblers and shrub roses have different pruning requirements depending on the breed, but all are bred to be compact, immune to diseases and repeat flowering. They do not need to be pruned as often as standard or patio roses, but they should still be trimmed to improve their general appearance.

Standard or bush roses should be cut back in late winter or early spring, reducing the main framework of stems by about one-third and removing any stubby or twiggy sideshoots that are becoming congested. Weeping standards should be pruned after flowering, like rambler roses, and should have their flowered sideshoots cut back to within two or three buds of the main framework.

When pruning, always use clean tools. Make your cuts about 5mm above a healthy, well-developed bud and angle them away from the plant to shed rainwater that might collect and cause disease.

If you want to prune your roses, use a pair of sharp pruning loppers and be sure to wear protective clothing to prevent crushing or bruising the bushes. You should also disinfect the equipment after cutting diseased material or when moving from one rose to another, recommends Mississippi State University Extension.

A pruning knife is useful for more detailed work, such as removing broken or crossing canes that are interfering with the plant’s growth. A thinning cut, which shortens the limbs of the rose, is used to allow light to penetrate deeper into the plant.

To encourage new growth and blooms, remove all of the old, weak or wilted canes from your rose plant. These canes sap the nutrients from the new shoots and are potential centers for diseases.

Most roses bloom on current season growth. However, if a rose plant has old shoots or dried-out leaves, they will eventually die and the plant will lose its blooms. In order to stimulate new growth, prune the plant every year to remove these old, dying shoots.


Roses are heavy feeders and they need regular meals to grow vigorously, bloom well and withstand disease. Using a slow-release fertilizer, such as Lilly Miller All Purpose Planting & Growing Food 10-10-10, and amending the soil with organic matter (compost or leaf mold) will give your roses a healthy start.

Fertilizers should be applied at least three times per year — spring, summer and fall. Nitrogen-containing fertilizers can encourage unwanted new growth that disrupts dormancy and leaves your roses vulnerable to winter damage. Instead, feed with a nitrogen-free formula with the first number “0” that contains phosphorus and potassium to strengthen roots, encourage resilient stems, and promote flower development.

Feeding is also an important step in pruning. Remove weak and competing shoots to encourage the development of stronger, healthier flowers that last longer.

When trimming roses, be sure to cut the entire stem, not just the base. Doing so prevents the bare roots from sucking up water and dehydrating your roses.

To keep your roses looking great, use a quality rose food, such as David Austin Rose Food, to nourish your roses. Apply the food evenly around the base of your roses, working it into the soil around the roots. For shrub roses, sprinkle 1oz of the food around the base, to the width of the canopy; for climbing roses, apply 2oz of the food.

After feeding, mulch the base of your rose with garden compost, rotted manure or leaf mold to retain moisture in the soil and suppress weeds. Keeping the mulch layer at least 3 inches deep will help the soil stay moist.

If the soil is too dry, you may need to water more often to bring the soil up to a good moisture level. You can do this by hand or by using a hose with a soaker nozzle, which directs water directly onto the ground rather than splashing on foliage.

Another way to get the moisture your roses need is to spray them with a solution of plain white vinegar. Vinegar is an inexpensive, effective and safe fertilizer that will promote the growth of acid-loving plants such as roses and hydrangeas.