When most gardeners are impatiently waiting for the average last frost date, rose gardeners at the Learning Garden (TLG) are starting their annual chores. Roses require the most attention from mid- to late February through April, making the ‘rhythm’ of working with them different from gardening with other plants.
Early season rose garden activities:
- We prune our roses when they begin to show signs of new growth—typically when the forsythia blooms. Remove any dead, damaged, or crossing canes; clear out the centers for good air circulation; and cut most roses back by about one third. Check out the short video on Early Spring Pruning of Roses at the end of this post.
- Next, we clear debris from beneath the plants and weed the beds.
- We transplant any roses that need moving so that they will “wake up” in their new homes.
- We also plant new roses from late March to mid- April.
- In mid-April we fertilize our roses. In the Learning Rose Garden, we use a slow-acting, organic fertilizer that can take weeks to become available to the roses. We sometimes supplement this first feeding with a liquid or faster-acting fertilizer to give the roses a quick boost.
- If you choose to use fungicides to prevent black spot from establishing in your garden, it is important to start early! We start spraying fungicides in April.
Watering is important!
During these spring months, we make sure our roses get enough water. Adequate water is necessary for new and transplanted roses, as well as for soaking in fertilizer. April showers are a definite plus in a rose garden! For maximum sustained growth, roses require at least one inch of water per week.
By May, when other gardeners are busy, we are keeping our eyes on the rain gauge and watching the roses beginning to bloom!
Article by Judy Deutsch, Buncombe County Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer and Certified Consulting Rosarian
For more information:
Check out this video on this site: Great Roses for Western North Carolina
Here is a short video on Early Spring Pruning of Roses by the University of Maryland.