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Science-based gardening information for Colorado communities from CSU Extension, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Green Industries of Colorado.

1725 – Roses: Maintenance   arrow

Where do roses grow best?

Roses grow best in sites with full sun, well-drained soil and good air circulation. Plant grafted roses with the graft union one to two inches below the soil line to protect the graft from severe winter temperatures. All types of roses need at least one inch of water per week during active growth. Fertilize roses with an all-purpose fertilizer, such as 8-10-8, every four to six weeks during the growing season. Discontinue fertilizing on August 15 to prevent late succulent growth prior to the first frost.

How do I prune roses best?

The style of pruning is the main cultural difference between shrub or old garden roses and modern hybrids. Shrub and old garden roses flower on older wood and should be pruned only lightly by removing dead, damaged and diseased wood, along with any crossing or weak canes at ground level. Do not remove the faded blossoms because this will eliminate the rose hips which are attractive in fall and winter. The exception to removing old blossoms, is on roses that flower twice a season. Deadhead these roses after the first flush of bloom.

Modern hybrid roses are pruned to a V-shape with an open center. Prune when the buds start to swell in the spring, removing all dead, weak and crossing canes. Ideally, the canes on a hybrid rose would be left eight to ten inches tall, but because of the severe winters here, there may be only two to four inches remaining on the cane. The final cuts should be one-quarter inch above a healthy, outside-facing bud, at a downward sloping 45 degree angle away from the bud.

When is it best to prune?

Pruning is an all-season activity with modern hybrid roses. As dead blossoms are removed, the resulting cuts should be made one-quarter inch above a five leaflet leaf, leaving at least two mature leaves on the stem. From September on, don’t deadhead modern hybrid roses. This will force the plants to begin going dormant before the first hard frost.

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For more information, see the following Colorado State University Extension fact sheet(s).

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