Caring for Roses

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Choosing a Rosebush

When purchasing rose bushes, choose plants with three to five good-sized canes. The canes should be evenly spaced and not crowded together. Do not buy plants that have broken, brown or dried out canes.

Choosing a Site

When planting roses, choose an area that receives the most sun, preferably six or more hours a day. Roses will thrive only in a sunny area. The planting hole should be about 18” deep. If the soil is heavy or sandy, it needs improvement. Amend clay soil with English Gardens Soil Conditioner for clay soil. Amend sandy soil with spaghum peat.


When the yellow forsythia bloom in spring, it’s time to remove winter protection and prune roses. Carefully remove winter protection so as to not accidentally break off any new growth that may have started near the base of the plant.

Cut off any obviously dead wood, which has a blackened appearance to it. While pruning look into the center of the cane, called the pith, the pith should be white. If the pith is tan or brown, keep cutting until white pith is reached.

Planting diagram

Always look for the bud eye, which is a small bulge on the cane, usually red in color. Make the cut about ¼” above an outward facing bud eye on a 45 degree angle. You do this so the new growth will point outward away from the center of the rosebush, creating a better- shaped plant. A 45 degree angle cut will heal fastest. In our climate the canes of most rose bushes will usually be six to eight inches tall after pruning.

When pruning climbing roses, prune as little as possible since most climbers bloom on old wood. Simply cut out any old wood that may no longer be productive and any winterdamaged cane tips.

Spring pruning should be completed by the third week of April. You should prune your rosebushes to space the canes properly and prune out any non-productive old wood. Remove any canes which are too close together or that rub against each other. Prune the canes so they are growing toward the outside of the plant. All inward growth should be removed to increase air circulation.

Use by-pass shears not anvil shears. Anvil shears don’t make a clean cut but smash and damage the stem as they cut.

Always remember to seal all cuts with pruning seal.

For more information, talk to one of the English Gardens knowledgeable experts.