Sunday, January 24, 2010

Few sights are more beautiful than a rose garden in full bloom. Whether you prefer classic rose bushes, old-fashioned climbers, shrub roses or a combination of them all, the most important step in taking care of a rose garden is providing an environment that meets their needs. It's not complicated to grow roses, but it does require several routine tasks in order to keep the plants healthy and strong.

Step 1. Plant roses in a sunny location with well-drained soil. Aim for about six hours of sunlight everyday.

Step 2 .Water your roses often, especially during dry weather. They require at least 1 inch of water every week. Water at soil level to prevent fungal spores from being splashed from the ground onto the stems and leaves.

Step 3.Add mulch as often as necessary. Roses need a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch to deter the growth of weeds and keep their roots from drying out during hot weather.

Step 4.Fertilize your roses with specially formulated rose food or an all-purpose fertilizer and follow package directions carefully. Fertilize the first time as soon as new growth appears in spring, then once after each new wave of blooms. Stop feeding two months before the first frost is expected in your area.

Step 5.Prune roses in early spring when the first buds begin to appear. Cut the bush back to a height of 18 to 24 inches, being careful to remove all dead or damaged branches.

Step 6.Deadhead old blooms as soon as they fade. It is vital to remove all spent blooms so that the rose will continue to flower vigorously for the remainder of the growing season.

Step 7.Prevent pests and disease. It's important to check roses often for signs of trouble, such as discolored or spotted leaves and insect infestation. Many gardeners opt to spray or dust regularly with insecticide and fungicide to prevent problems. If you do notice anything unusual snip off an affected branch and take it to a reliable nursery or gardening center to be examined. The experts there should have no trouble diagnosing the problem and prescribing the proper treatment.

Step 8.Protect your roses well during the winter. After the first frost of the season pile 8 to 12 inches of fresh dirt around each rose plant and water thoroughly. Cut the longest canes back to 2 to 4 feet and tie them together with garden twine. As soon as new growth appears in spring, remove the mounds of soil.

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