As another rose season begins to wind down you have the chance to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your flower gardening season. But before you completely relax you still have to know how to take care of your rose bushes for the winter and to make the necessary preparations to ensure that whatever type of roses you have that they will be ready to bloom again next spring.
During the first few weeks of summer, any old branches (also known as canes) should be cut off. Remove dead blooms and cut off any branches that are sticking out, or growing outside the space where the rose bush is wanted. Be careful not to prune too much away, or you could cut off new growth that would have become next year’s blooms.
This is also the time to do a major fertilizing. Choose fertilizer that is the best fertilizer possible for your garden, and follow the fertilizing instructions on the bag. While feeding your roses year round can be good, feeding too much late in the summer or in the fall can encourage a late bloom, which may be killed by the winter cold. For gardeners in areas where winters are cold, fertilizing at the beginning of summer allows the timing of the next bloom to be such that the new flowers have already been cut and put in vases on the dinner table before the first frost. It also allows any new growth the time to become strong enough to survive the winter.
In a dry summer, growing rose bushes and other roses means extra watering. Deep soaking the soil gives the plants the chance to absorb the moisture. Be sure to soak the soil and not the plants, as leaves need to stay dry to prevent disease. Also, be sure the water is draining. Over watering can cause the roots to mold or rot. If leaves are free from Black Spot, but perhaps have Powdery Mildew, a strong hosing on a hot summer morning can get rid of the Powdery Mildew as well as any aphids or other insects.
To help conserve moisture in the summer heat, put a layer of mulch down over the soil. This has the added benefit of making it more difficult for weeds to grow. Mulch can also be a beneficial addition to winter care, depending on the climate. Mulch can be made up of almost anything, such as torn up newspapers, bark mulch, or compost. A good piece of gardening advice is to not use wood chips or bark as mulch. These will absorb the nitrogen from the soil. Instead, compost as mulch does double duty, both keeping moisture in and adding nutrients to the soil it covers. Compost also contains valuable microbes that help breakdown decomposing material and makes soil healthier.
As with any type of gardening, taking care of roses means weeding. In the summer, weeds are even more obvious and grow faster than in the spring. There are many recipes for homemade weed killers on the internet, or you can grab a gardening tool and a garbage bag and dig in.