What's the best way to plant a rose?
At a well-chosen site (one with lots of sun and good drainage), dig a hole three feet deep and two-and-a-half feet wide.
Mix one cup of triple superphosphate with the soil at the bottom of the hole (to encourage root development). If your soil is iron-deficient, throw in a couple of nails. After placing the plant, fill the hole with a mixture of 50 percent loam and 50 percent aged cow manure. Moisten the soil to remove air pockets both before and after planting your rose. In warm zones (7 and south), position the bud union just above the soil, where the sun can reach it, to encourage new growth. In colder regions, protect the bud union by placing it an inch or two below the surface.
What's the ideal soil pH for raising roses?
A reading between 6.5 and 6.8 is best.
How much water do roses need?
In warm weather, five gallons a day is about right, unless soil is heavy. A top dressing of aged cow manure will help retain moisture, as will a handful of hydrogel crystals added to the soil at planting time (pre-expand the crystals first). A drip-irrigation system has the advantage of directing the water straight to the roots, leaving disease-prone leaves dry.
When, and what, should I feed my roses?
Do not overfeed your bushes — once every three months is usually sufficient. Nitrogen-rich homemade blends tailored to your own soil are excellent; slow-release Osmocote (available at garden centers and nurseries) is good, too.
Which is the better manure: horse or cow?
Mike prefers aged cow manure, as it contains fewer weed seeds than horse.
What can I do about Japanese beetles?
Grow once-blooming old garden roses, such as the Gallicas. The beetles make their appearance after these roses have finished. Or, consider planting a decoy, such as concord grapes, in a distant corner of your yard. Remember, though, you might attract your neighbor's beetles, too.
Prune it right
Do use clean, sharp pruners, which won't spread disease or tear stems.
Don't overprune climbers, which bloom on the previous year's growth. Early spring removal of diseased and damaged canes should suffice.
Do deadhead remontant varieties to encourage rebloom.
Do prune the healthy canes of hybrid teas and shrub roses when the forsythia blooms. Cut back to just above an outward-facing, dormant bud; in the North, to about 13 inches from the crown, in the South, to 22 inches or so.
Don't allow borers and other pests to wreak havoc on exposed stem tissue. Paint the raw ends of freshly pruned canes with clear nail polish or white glue.