How to Properly Water Roses

Roses love water. Water helps them grow and promotes large, long-lasting flowers with rich color and thick, sturdy petals. Water is the means by which the rose transports nutrients. Did you know that roses assimilate food either through their roots or leaves (foliar feeding)?

  • Water roses early in the day, at ground level, to help prevent diseases like black spot.
  • Avoid routinely wetting the foliage, especially when overcast. This can encourage and spread disease.
  • Once a week, on a sunny day, it is okay to spray your rose bush with water. A spray nozzle attached to the hose will provide enough force to clear the leaves of dust, dirt, spider mites, and other insects.

Soil, temperature, and surrounding plants affect how much water a rose needs. In temperate climates, weekly watering is usually enough. Two inches of water a week (4 to 5 gallons) may be all that is needed. If the soil is sandy or the garden is hot, dry, or windy, more frequent watering may be necessary. Care needs to be taken in areas where the soil holds a lot of moisture, as too much water can promote root rot.

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Deep root systems are achieved by deep watering; this will help the rose to survive both droughts and winter freezes. Light watering, in turn, results in shallow roots, making the plant more susceptible to the effects of summer heat and winter freezes.

Invest in a water probe or just stick your finger into the soil to know when to water. If it comes out completely dry, you may need to step up your program. If it comes out muddy, there might be too much water or not enough drainage. Another indicator of too much watering is yellowing leaves that are soft. Yellowing leaves that are dry and crispy can indicate insufficient watering. If the soil is moist, that will indicate that the watering is about right.

Use Mulch to Conserve Water

Conserve up to 50% water consumption by mulching. A 2- to 3-inch layer keeps weeds down and cools the soil, lowering the temperature 10 to 20 degrees. Purchase mulch from your local nursery or use what you have on hand. Newspaper, either shredded or laid down in sheets, anchored with soil, will keep weeds at bay and retain moisture. Aged sawdust (composted for a year to prevent loss of Nitrogen), grass clippings (make sure there is no herbicide residue) compost, hay, and aged (well composted) horse manure (applied in late winter to early spring) are good choices, too.