How to Grow Roses: What You Need to Know

It can be intimidating if you don't know how to grow roses. These rose growing basics will start your rose garden off on the right foot.

254049102 1 Pat Shaw Bypc2020Courtesy Pat Shaw
Pink climbing rose

Roses are some of the most beautiful flowers, but they can be daunting for new gardeners. Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow roses so you can enjoy gorgeous blooms.

When to Plant Roses

Bare-root rose plants perform best if you plant in spring while dormant, but container roses can be put in the ground anytime. If you’re looking for ease, many new varieties are hardier and more disease-resistant, and deliver attractive plants that bloom all summer. New rose varieties take up less space. They’re bred for gardeners with smaller yards and less time.

As any gardener knows, it’s not just about how to grow roses—it’s about picking the right colors! Here’s what you should know about rose color meanings.

How to Plant Roses

close up view of woman hands planting a rose bush in the garden. woman doing gardeningAndreiDavid/Getty Images
Planting a rose bush in the garden

Dig a wide hole the same depth as the roots, leaving a cone of soil in the middle, in a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of full sun each day. To avoid disturbing the roots of container plants, cut away the pot rather than pulling out the plant. Many roses are grafted. The bud graft is easy to spot—it’s the swollen knob with branches sprouting from it. In warm areas, like the South, plant the bud graft above ground level. In colder climates, where temperatures dip below freezing, plant it 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Find out why Knock Out Roses are a gardener’s dream come true.

Watering Roses

A newly planted rose is going to be thirsty. Create a trough of soil around the plant, check daily and water as needed. Once established, only about an inch of water per week is needed. Watering on the ground, not from above, reduces the risk of disease. Add organic mulch, like bark, pine needles or shredded leaves, to conserve moisture and reduce weeding.

Did you know that roses love garlic?

How to Trim Rose Bushes

how to grow roses Girl pruning rose bushes with secateursmarketlan/Getty Images
Trim roses to get more blooms

To keep roses blooming throughout the growing season, remove spent flowers, a technique called deadheading. This transfers the plant’s energy into creating even more blooms. Trim down to the first or second five-leaflet leaf.

Learn how to prepare and prune roses for winter.

7 Types of Roses to Grow

252267814 1 Nancy Camerer Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Nancy Camerer
Peace hybrid tea rose
  • Polyantha: introduced before 1867
  • Hybrid tea: showy, most popular
  • Floribunda: shrubby with bloom clusters
  • Grandiflora: tall, ideal for cut flowers
  • Miniature: only 6 to 18 inches
  • Shrub: large and full; some are fragrant
  • Climbing: use with trellises, arbors and walls

This rugosa rose deserves lots of love.

Readers Share Their Best Rose Growing Tips

how to grow rosesCourtesy Glenda Beck
Roses at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
  • “I’ve loved tending to my 27 roses bushes. To prevent rose cane borers, I dab some liquid wood glue on the tip of cane cuts so that the insects won’t enter the cane through a wound.” —Sandra Nehls of Watertown, Wisconsin
  • “Roses like to be well-watered, so make sure to apply a layer of mulch to retain moisture.” —Kathy Eppers of Aledo, Texas
  • “Never give up on roses, even if they look dead.” —Stephanie Caron of Lucedale, Mississippi
  • “Take time to sanitize your pruning shears after each use. That’s how I prevent fungal disease in my rose garden.” —Jennifer Broadstreet Hess of Marion, Kansas
  • “Create a schedule for inspecting, deadheading, watering, feeding, applying treatments (if needed) and pruning. And then stick to it. Consistency is my best tip.” —Joanne Thomas of Bayonne, New Jersey
  • “Nourish roses with love and enjoy them often, which will alert you early if there are any problems.” —Gloria Durman of Kent, Ohio

Next, check out 15 pretty rose gifts for rose lovers.

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.