5 Tips for Planting Roses in Your Garden

Roses are one of the most popular plants included in gardens and landscapes. While they’re widely admired and appreciated, many people are intimidated by growing them in the garden. They think that roses are hard to manage or require a ton of care.


A bulls-eye rose

Roses are the tough old broads of the plant world. Don’t be fooled by their flowers’ delicate and dainty appearance—the plant itself can take quite a bit and still come back as beautiful as ever the following year. While it does take a bit of patience and protection from pests (I’m looking at you, deer), once they’re established, it takes a lot to get them down. Do these five things and you’ll have beautiful blooms for years to come.

  1. Plant according to your zone. If you want your roses to last, plant breeds that are intended for your growing zone. This is where your local plant nursery has a leg up on their Big Box competition. The local nursery is more likely to have roses that are sure to thrive in your zone. If you choose to buy online, go to a site like heirloomroses.com and filter your search to locate a variety of roses for your area. white rose
  2. Got deer? Protect your roses with chicken wire. Since I live in a rural area, deer come and go as they please. While they don’t typically do too much damage to the plants in my garden, this year they feasted heavily on the roses I planted in the spring. Luckily, we had some leftover chicken wire from the new coop my husband built for our chickens. I took four foot lengths of wire and formed them into a circle. Since the roses in question were very small, this was a good size to protect them. For bigger rose bushes, adjust the length accordingly. I placed landscape staples into the ground to secure the wire frame in place. The deer stayed away as they couldn’t get their heads down the top of the wire for a nibble. Sorry, deer—your salad bar is closed.
  3. Plant companions. Companion planting is a great way to keep pests at bay. Instead of relying on pesticides to keep pests away, companion plants either repel the pests completely or trap them. Some companions include onions, garlic, chives, marigolds, mint, tansy, basil—all of which you can eat and enjoy. In a flower garden, plant Echinacea, hyssop, lilies, sage, violets, cornflower, irises, lilacs, cosmos and peonies. For more, click here.

    Impressionist Rose

    The Impressionist rose

  4. Deadhead. Deadheading the spent blooms has been known to encourage more floral growth. However, if you want to harvest the rosehips to make oil to use in skin creams or tinctures, leave the dead petals in place, as this will encourage the growth of the hips.
  5. Prune. Cutting your roses back each year will help it stay healthy. The best time to prune depends on your zone. I live in zone 9 and tend to prune in January or February. However, I did prune a very old climbing rose back to about 6 inches above the ground last November and it came back with a vengeance this year. When pruning, get rid of any dead canes and canes that cross to ensure proper air flow.

Pruning 101


In my part of the country, now is the ideal time to prune fruit trees, roses and a host of other plants. I’m a ruthless pruner, especially with plants that are already well established in the garden or on the property.

When we first moved into our house, we inherited roses and azaleas that hadn’t been pruned in years, if not well over a decade. Our azaleas were leggy and gross looking. The roses were running wild. It was a mess! My Mom and I put on our gloves (well, I put on gloves–my Mom never wore gloves even when working with roses) and our tools (a saw and big pruning shears) and got to work hacking everything back. And I mean everything! We sawed the azaleas nearly down to the roots and gave the roses a severe haircut–think going from Crystal Gayle to Susan Powter. The severe pruning did them good-the roses are thriving and the azaleas are growing back. Sometimes your plants just need a good haircut to restore health.



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Ideas for the garden

Now that the vegetable garden and courtyard are shaping up, it’s time to turn my attention to the front yard area. The previous homeowner was sick for a while so the front became overrun and unkempt. Not that I care to have a perfectly manicured lawn—it’s just that our house started to look like it was vacant. Continue reading