Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I care for my roses?

Before planting roses select your site carefully. Roses need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sun a day. If they do not receive enough sunlight, the flowers will be inferior and the plants will be weak. Locate your rose bed away from trees and shrubs.

Good drainage is essential for successful roses. Raised beds are useful for providing good drainage. Beds should be raised between 1-2 feet above the surrounding soil surface. A good soil mix to use for roses is 3 parts loose loamy soil, 3 parts peat moss or preferably manure or compost and 1 part sand. Add about 3-4 pounds superphosphate per 100 sq. ft. of area. You can also work about a cup of bone meal or alfalfa meal into the bottom of each planting hole.

The best time in St. Louis to plant roses is in the spring before the weather turns hot. Dig a hole 6 inches wider and 6 inches deeper than the container. Work in the bone meal or alfalfa meal and place 6 inches of well prepared soil into the hole. Place the rose into the hole with the graft at or slightly above the soil line. Fill the rest of the hole with soil, tamp down tightly and water thoroughly.

After planting, add about a 2-3 inch layer of shredded bark mulch to help eliminate weeds, maintain a more even soil temperature, and keep the soil moist.

Roses need a constant supply of moisture of at least 1-2 inches a week. Try to water at the base of the plant and water early in the morning if possible. Keep the foliage dry when watering. Wet foliage encourages fungal diseases. One or two deep waterings a week is preferred over many lighter waterings.

Fertilize your roses every 4 to 6 weeks after new plant growth appears in the spring. For more information on fertilizing, refer to message #3461 "Fertilizing Roses".

Pruning should be done yearly in the spring following the removal of winter mulch. Prune out dead wood and trim canes back to a length of 6 to 8 inches. Remove weak and older canes leaving about 4 or 5 healthy canes if possible. Prune weak plants heavily to encourage new growth.

During the remainder of the season, keep the old spent blooms cut, pruning back to the first 5 leaflet leaf. As you do this, check for dead or weak wood and prune out. Try to keep the plant open in the center for good air circulation. Also, prune out canes that are crossing or touching each other.