Growing and enjoying roses in your home garden.
Soak bareroot roses in water or mud for several hours before planting. Plant in a sunny, well-drained spot in early spring. Place the joint or bud union 1 inch above the ground in warm regions and up to 2 inches below the ground in cold areas. Mound 8-10 inches of soil around the top of the plant and leave until new growth appears. This protects the bud union, where most canes originate, and helps roots get established before top growth begins. Once new growth appears, carefully remove the soil mound and add mulch. A 2- to 4-inch layer conserves moisture and helps keep weeds down. Water to supply the equivalent of 1 inch of rain weekly, soaking soil to a depth of 8-10 inches. Fertilize after pruning in early spring and just before plants bloom. An additional feeding should be given as one flowering period ends to stimulate the next one. However, in cold climates, roses should not be fed after August. Prune just before new growth begins, as the buds begin to swell. Hold off pruning until danger of frost is past or newly trimmed tips may be killed. (NOTE: Climbing roses are the exception. They benefit from a light pruning immediately after flowering.)
When pruning roses, remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the previous year's growth. Trim off suckers (canes emerging from the roots) as they appear. Remove any damaged branches and work to open the plant up so air and sunlight can reach the center. Additional pruning may be needed in cold climates. Use strong, sharp pruning shears for an even cut. Ragged edges take longer to heal, leaving a plant susceptible to insects and diseases. Cut no more than 1/4 inch above an eye or growth bud. Angle cuts so they slope slightly back, away from the bud. This allows moisture to drain away. While you don't want to cut too close to the bud, if a cut is made too high above it, the stem may die back. To remove a complete stem, cut as close as possible to the parent stem. Do not leave a stub when cutting off a cane or stem as this can invite insect and disease problems.
For large, exhibition-quality blooms, remove all but a single bud on a stem, pinching out side buds as they appear. To improve production, remove flowers as they fade. To keep climbers blooming, prune just above the first 5-leaf grouping when the first flush of flowers has faded. Roses need winter protection in northern regions. Mound dirt, leaves or straw over plants or cover with rose cones after a couple of good, hard frosts. (The ground should be frozen to a depth of 2 inches before cones are added.) Lay climbers on the ground and cover with heavy mulch. Remember, the purpose of protection is to keep roses cold, not warm.