Ways to Get More Blooms From Your Roses

Sunshine falls on bed of roses, Rosa 'Showtime'.

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Roses can be finicky plants, but you can maximize the blooming potential of your roses by following the basic tenets of rose culture and maintenance. Here are six ways to get more rose blossoms for your flower arrangements.

  • 01 of 06

    Before You Plant Your Rose

    Blythe Spirit Rose
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    You can affect the future blossoms of your rose bush before the plant even goes in the ground. Pamper your roses by placing them in a garden spot that has excellent drainage. Test the future garden site of your rose bush by digging an 18-inch hole and filling it with water. If the water hasn’t drained away after two hours, consider building a raised bed or choosing a different site.

    Find a site that is sunny for at least six hours each day. Roses need direct sun to generate the energy necessary for abundant blooms. Diseases and pests plague roses weakened by shady conditions.

    Don't plop your rose into a hole and simply refill with native garden soil. Excavate an 18-by-18 inch-planting hole, and backfill the hole with a mix of 50% garden soil and 50% compost and peat moss. This lightweight soil blend encourages the development of feeder roots.

  • 02 of 06

    Plant Reblooming Rose Varieties

    Rose bloom
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    Gardeners seek out heirloom roses for their hardiness and renowned fragrance, but old rose varieties don’t rebloom as reliably as their descendants. Top choices for roses that rebloom profusely throughout the growing season include:

    • Bright Melody: A red shrub rose
    • Carefree Delight: Hardy and low maintenance
    • Danae: Very fragrant
    • Fairy Moss: A miniature choice
    • Graham Thomas: A climber with peony-like blossoms
    • Knock Out: Available in red, pink, and yellow
  • 03 of 06

    Deadhead Rose Bushes

    rose hips
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    Letting roses form hips, which contain seeds, is a signal to the rose bush that the growing season is finished. Removing spent blossoms signal the plant to produce more blooms in its effort to make seeds. Cut the spent bloom back to the first cluster of five leaves to keep the plant bushy and compact.

    Deadheading once-blooming roses, like old-fashioned Alba and Gallica roses, does not result in additional flowers. These roses bloom heavily one time per year, but have other advantages, including vigor, high petal count, vibrant colors, and rich fragrance. 

  • 04 of 06

    Control Rose Diseases

    Powdery mildew on rose foliage
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    Black spotmildew, and rose rosette disease do more than disfigure rose bush leaves and cause leaf drop: these diseases weaken the entire plant, taking away the energy needed to produce bountiful blooms. As the season progresses, and temperatures and humidity increase, most roses will experience some signs of disease.

    Control disease by spraying at the first sign of symptoms. Some gardeners choose to use systemic treatments at the beginning of the growing season so that new growth is instantly protected from fungi. Use the right product: preventatives are best for healthy roses, while curatives aim to knock out active disease.

    Keep your rose leaves dry by watering at the base of the plant. Fungi need a moist environment to penetrate leaves. Remove any dead or diseased foliage to deny spores a place to spend the winter. Good garden hygiene also controls pests that spread disease.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Nip Pests in the Bud

    aphids on rose
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    Pests decrease the bloom count on roses in two ways: by weakening plants, and by eating the blossoms themselves. A systemic pesticide, like acephate, protects tender new growth from aphids, mites, thrips, and whiteflies. Other pests like rose sawfly are less common but equally devastating in the flower garden.

    Organic options like neem oil or insecticidal soap are options for rose bushes adjacent to vegetable gardens. Don't roll your eyes at the mention of beneficial insects as an effective way to control rose pests as well. A generation ago, that's all rose lovers had to rid themselves of bad bugs. Chemicals kill off the good insects with the bad, creating an imbalance in the landscape that welcomes more pests. Use pesticide sprays as a last resort; a few ragged leaves won't lessen your bloom count.

  • 06 of 06

    Feed Hungry Roses

    Close-Up Of Pink Rose
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    Roses are heavy feeders, and roses that bloom throughout the season need at least three fertilizer applications. A balanced, 10-10-10 fertilizer provides nitrogen for healthy foliage, phosphorus for vigorous roots, and potassium to promote blossom formation. Additionally, you can apply nourishing mulches like leaf mold, compost, and rotted manure to keep roses happy. 

    You should apply the first fertilizer application as the plants begin to break out of winter dormancy. Two more applications in mid-June and mid-July keep the flower show going. Stop fertilizing in August to allow the plants to prepare for dormancy.