Yes, that sounds like something you’d hear on a late-night TV infomercial for a “miracle” plant: “Roses that NEVER stop blooming!!!” That I can’t guarantee. No one can -- unless the roses are artificial, of course.
With no “miracles” involved, I can promise that if you take a few simple steps each month, your rosebushes should bloom over and over every six weeks from spring until the middle of fall.
And I know from what people tell me, that’s probably much more flowering than you’re getting now.
OK, I’ll confess that there are three caveats to my promise – the “buts” you knew were coming. However, they don’t affect the majority of roses or the moderate-summer areas where most Americans live. More on this in a bit.
As soon as your roses stop blooming, cut off the dead blooms. Do it right away and do it a particular way: Look below the stem for a cluster of five leaves on a stem Cut there. The recommended way is to cut at a 45-degree angle about one-fourth inch above the five-leaf cluster.
After you’ve cut off the old flowers properly, you’ll need to fertilize. Roses are called heavy feeders. That means they like plenty of food – fertilizer . So instead of fertilizing the bushes once in the spring, you feed them more often. After all, you wouldn’t want to eat just once a year, would you?
As with many things, rose growers have different opinions about fertilizer. My experience is that it’s good to alternate liquid or water-soluble fertilizers with a granular product.
The reasoning behind this is that the effects of granular fertilizers are long-lasting but slower-acting. Liquids give you quick results but don’t hang around. Think of them as fast food and a sit-down meal.
You wouldn’t want to live all the time on fast food, and neither does a rose. But if you combine the two, you get the best of each.
What does this mean in terms of how often to fertilize? In spring, pull back the mulch around your bushes and spread the recommended amount of granular rose fertilizer. Replace the mulch and water.
After roses have finished blooming the first time, repeat the application at half the recommended rate. Two weeks later, spray the entire bush with a water-soluble fertilizer. (Fish emulsion, seaweed extract, and liquid kelp are organic choices.) Don’t use a commercial liquid on rugosa roses. And avoid spraying when temperatures are over 85 degrees F.
Repeat this each time the roses finish blooming and you’ve trimmed off the spent blooms.
Finally, just as roses like to eat, they also like to drink. They need an ample and regular supply of water. If they don’t receive it by rainfall, you have to provide it. The best way is by soaker hose or drip irrigation at the base. But you can also water by hand deeply once or twice a week when less than an inch of rain falls.
You’ll want to be sure to keep the water off the leaves in evening – that can lead to blackspot and mildew.
That’s all there is to it – but you have to do it regularly, from spring until August, when you stop fertilizing to allow the bushes to slow their growth before winter’s cold arrives. You’ll want to slow deadheading then, too. (The colder your climate, the earlier you stop.)
But what about those caveats I mentioned earlier? Here they are:
Some old-fashioned roses and climbers bloom only once a year, usually around June. That’s what they were bred to do and you can’t change that. (If you know the name of your rose, look it up online and see it it’s a June bloomer.)
Another exception is in areas with torrid summers. There, roses will rebloom little or not at all during hot weather. We’re talking Houston , Phoenix, Florida. Gardeners in those areas get a much longer season of bloom than the rest of us, but not in summer. In those regions, you’ll want to contact your local Extension Service to find out the timing of fertilizing your roses to get repeat bloom.
Finally, if you live in a drought area and can’t keep the roses watered, don’t expect repeated rebloom, because you shouldn’t be applying fertilizer when the weather’s hot and water is lacking.
For all others, though, this couldn’t be simpler. It takes less than an hour a month. And, if you’re faithful over it, the results will have you wanting to make your own infomercial to spread the news.