Rose gardeners in warmer parts of the U.S. are fortunate to enjoy a longer blooming season than their northern neighbors. That means continuing to care for your roses until they stop blooming. How long your roses bloom and how much protection they need during the dormant season depends on your particular location, but here are some guidelines to help you care for these popular plants:
- Feed roses while they bloom, but stop during dormancy. As long as your rose plants are producing blooms, they continue to need nutrients to stay healthy and resist insects and diseases. A slow-release rose food should be applied every 4 to 6 weeks during the blooming season.
- Examine and treat plants for disease and insects. The goal is to have “clean” rose plants going into dormancy, so be on the lookout for insects and diseases—especially rust and black spot. To protect your roses, apply insect killer. This handy “two-pack” includes a balanced 8-12-4 time-release fertilizer that feeds for up to 6 weeks as well as a systemic triple-action aerosol spray that controls insects, diseases, and mites.
- Don’t stop watering. Continue to water your roses while they bloom—especially any that have been planted in the past 6 months.
- Remove blooms when they fade. Removing spent blooms will help direct nutrients to the roots to help the plant prepare itself for next year.
- Protect dormant plants with mulch or soil. In parts of the country where temperatures usuallly won’t go below about 28° F, a layer of 3 inches of leaves, pine needles, or mulch can be mounded over the base of rose plants to protect them. If your area gets colder than that, mound garden soil , loosely over the base of each plant to a height of 8 to 10 inches.