Rose Bush Care Year Round

Rose bushes: a month-to-month care guide to help you keep your roses free of pests and healthy-looking all year long.

Although roses come in different varieties, each with specific needs, the following month-by-month care guide will give you general tips to keep your rosebushes healthy all year long:

* January: If you haven't done it yet, cover the ground next to your rosebush with mulch or snow to prevent the root from freezing.

* February: If the ground is dried out but not frozen, water your rosebush. Do so in the middle of the day, which is usually the warmest time, to prevent freezing.

* March: Continue to water the roses whenever the soil dries out. Aphids and spider mites may be a problem this month. You can kill them by spraying a dormant oil on the rosebush before it has leafed out fully. To avoid the spread of disease, clean up the rose bed of any old rose leaves that may be contaminated.

* April: It's time to prune to encourage growth. Cut off all dead and diseased wood and deep water your rosebush. Add one to two cups of alfalfa meal per plant to the soil as well as two to three ounces of magnesium sulfate (Epson salt) per plant to stimulate the growth of new leaves and new basal canes. Both the alfalfa meal and the magnesium sulfate can be diluted in a gallon of water for easy application.

* May: Water the rosebushes deeply. They love lots of water but won't tolerate standing in it, so make sure your roses are planted in well-drained soil. Fertilize them with an organic fertilizer of your choice. Continue to prune close to the green to eliminate unhealthy canes and leaves. Aphids can be eliminated with a powerful spray of cold water.



* June: Keep your eyes peeled for thrips, aphids, leaf rollers and spider mites and treat the rosebush as soon as you spot one of these pests. Continue to deep water the rosebush and remove any spent blooms to encourage flowering.

* July: Mulch and water the rosebush. Mildew and black spot may appear this month if you live in an area that receives heavy afternoon rain in the summer. You can spray the rosebush with a mixture of about two or three teaspoons of baking soda and a little mineral oil in a gallon of water to solve this problem.

* August: Continue to water during the coolest part of the day and to use the spray you prepared last month against mildew and black spots. Cut spent blooms.

* September: You can start deep watering only every other week. Leaving the last bloom in the bush until later in the month helps to prepare the rosebush for winter by allowing the rose hips to complete their growing cycle.

* October: You only need to deep water once this month if the heat has started tapering off where you live.

* November: Water only when the ground seems to be dry. If wind or snow could break the rosebush canes, trim them to about two feet. Clean the area surrounding the rosebush of any dead leaves or other debris.

* December: Sit back, relax and start planning next year's rose garden.

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