The Easiest Ways to Grow Roses

Growing roses doesn't have to be difficult. See how to grow the easiest rose varieties for the best blooms all season long.

One of the most popular flowers in the world is the rose. Everyone loves roses, but sometimes gardeners choose not to grow roses based on the traditional thought that roses are high maintenance and can be difficult to grow. When roses were only grown for their flower, 50 to 70 years ago, they were more difficult to grow. These days, roses are bred so that the entire plant looks great and can be easily grown in gardens. Shrub roses, in particular, are bred to be low maintenance, disease-resistant, and easier to use. Plus, shrub roses come in many sizes to fit your landscape. Check out the new generation of shrub roses and the easiest ways to grow them.

Choose the Easiest Roses to Grow

The easiest roses to grow are shrub roses with excellent disease resistance, low-maintenance needs, and summer-long blooms. All of the roses we feature are easy to find online and in nurseries. To know which variety does best in your area, research the American Rose Society's comprehensive listing, which describes award-winning roses that grow across the country.

Knock Out Rose

The most famous and one of the best-selling rose varieties is the Knock Out rose. Knock Out roses come in a variety of colors and are known for their long bloom times; they bloom all summer and last until fall. The roses can come in a medium-size shrub and are almost as wide as they are tall, so they look great planted in a big bank along a fence. They also look good sprinkled among other perennials or shrubs.

Drift Rose

Drift rose is a newer variety of shrub rose. This rose type grows tiny flowers. Drift roses are also good as a groundcover rose because they are thick and wide, so they can cover a good amount of space. These roses are also great incorporated into a flowerbed of herbs, annuals, and perennials.

Easy Elegance Series

Easy Elegance roses are known for not only their fragrance, but also their easy-care qualities. These roses are bred to be disease resistant and able to stand up to weather extremes. A sunny spot in the garden and minimal care is all that these plants need to look their best.

Choose Fragrant Roses

Aside from their beauty, gardeners love fragrant roses to fill their garden with sweet scents all season long. The breathtaking aroma is why roses are often used in perfumes. When other factors come into rose breeding (like disease resistance, hardiness, and ease of planting and growing), sometimes attention to fragrance takes a back seat. Luckily, that's not the case anymore, as intense fragrance is just as important as other characteristics. Easy Elegance 'Yellow Brick' rose has a beautiful classic rose fragrance, while 'Knockout' has a very faint floral smell. Take a sniff at the nursery to see what fragrance combination appeals to you most.

roses

Know Where to Grow Roses

To get your roses off to a great start, plant them in the proper growing conditions. All roses grow best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. Make sure your roses get at least six hours of direct sun a day; if they get less light, the plants won't bloom as well and will be more susceptible to attack from pests and diseases. While some roses may tolerate partial shade better than others, no roses like full shade.

Shrub roses are meant to be grown all over the country, especially in places where other rose species may not be very hardy. If you live in a part of the country where it's cold and windy, let the plant go dormant when the ground freezes in the winter.

Learn How to Plant Roses

Shrub roses come in a few forms. Bare-root roses are available in early spring and are sold as a set of roots packed in peat moss or a similar material that holds moisture well. It's best to purchase bare-root roses when they're dormant or just beginning to grow. There's a long tradition of planting bare-root roses, but they can require a long time to take off. These roses can be mail-ordered easily and inexpensively, so you add multiple roses to your landscape at a low cost.

Container-grown roses are typically a little more expensive than bare-root roses, but they are easier to plant. Like other perennials or shrubs, you can plant them in the spring, summer, or fall, however, it is not recommended to plant them in extreme heat because the heat puts too much stress on the plant. Start by digging a hole about twice as wide (but no deeper) than the rose's pot. Take the rosebush out of the container and loosen the roots. Spread roots out if they're growing in circles around the root ball. Place the roots in the hole and fill with soil, making sure to water well after you plant it.

After planting your roses, water them well, especially if you plant them in the summer when they're most susceptible to drying out. Keep watering them for the first few weeks in your garden. Along with watering, lay a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil and around your roses to hold moisture and prevent weed growth. Mulch can also act as a barrier to prevent soilborne diseases from reaching the leaves.

Prune Roses in Spring

Pruning keeps your rosebushes lush, healthy, and constantly blooming. Most gardeners prune roses in the early spring when the leaves start to bud. Although it's not necessary to prune every year, pruning should be done to keep your shrub rose the ideal size. A full-grown shrub rose, for example, could be pruned down to 10 or 12 inches and then left alone to sprout back and rejuvenate itself to gain more blooms. As you prune roses, keep in mind that you want your plants to grow with an open center so air can flow freely through the plant; this will also keep your rose from looking like a crazy mess of branches. As you do this, cut out any dead branches as well as small, weak canes. Remember: Some classic, heirloom roses take a lot of complicated pruning, but shrub roses are meant to be as low maintenance as possible.

Deadheading red roses
Jason Donnelly

Deadhead for Best Blooms

One of the big perks of shrub roses is that they are meant to bloom continuously, keeping in flower all summer long and all the way until frost. Unlike old-fashioned roses, shrub roses don't need much deadheading. The spent flowerhead can actually be kept on the plant with very little consequence because newer rose varieties are designed to be low maintenance. If you want your roses to look better, help prevent disease issues, and encourage more blooms, cut faded rose flowers back to the nearest leaf.

Water Deeply

Most roses aren't super drought tolerant, so give them a steady supply of moisture to keep them healthy and blooming. It's important to water them deeply, as this encourages their roots to extend farther down in the soil where it stays moist longer. Use a soaker hose to water—it'll keep the leaves dry, which helps your roses resist disease.

Fertilize with Care

Unlike heirloom varieties such as hybrid tea roses, shrub roses don't require a lot of fertilizing or maintenance with chemicals. Shrub roses such as those in the Carefree series are also bred to be less susceptible to black spot or powdery mildew disease. Generally, if your garden is blessed with rich soil or you amend it with compost or other forms of organic matter regularly, you probably won't need to feed your plants. But if you're cursed with poor soil or are growing roses in containers, fertilizing can be helpful. In most cases, all you need is a general-purpose garden fertilizer. Be cautious, because when it comes to fertilizer, you can have too much of a good thing. Over-fertilization may cause your roses to produce fewer flowers, suffer root injury, or even kill the plants.

Because roses in containers can't reach farther into the soil to find more nutrients, they depend on you to feed them. One easy solution is to use a slow-release plant food. You need to apply it just once or twice a season and it'll feed your plants for months.

Protect Roses in Winter

If you live in a Northern region, you will probably need to protect your roses during winter. No matter which method you use, be sure to wait until the soil has frozen: You want to keep the plants frozen all winter, not protect them from the cold. Check out some common methods to use:

Mulch

Cover rose canes with several inches of loose mulch, such as weed-free straw, pine needles, or wood chips. Adding mulch to your roses is important for keeping your plants happy and healthy.

Rose Cones

Protect roses with foam cones. Mound soil over the rose crown, then cover the entire plant with the cone. Cut a few ventilation holes in the cone, and anchor it so it won't blow away during winter windstorms.

Containers

If you're growing roses in containers, move them to a more sheltered spot, such as an unheated garage, storage shed, or cool basement over the winter.

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