Adapted from www.highcountryroses.com
Hardening-off The Roses
If the rose is dry when you bring them home, please water them thoroughly, but don’t allow them to sit in water. To acclimatize your roses to their new home, they should be hardened off for several days before planting them. Expose them to sun and wind for a few hours at first, increasing the length of time each day. Be careful not to let the roses dry out, but avoid over-watering.
The planting site for your roses should receive at least 5 to 6 hours of sun daily. As roses are long-term investments, soil preparation is very important. It is best to add 1 part compost, prepared planting mix, or aged manure to 2 parts of your garden soil. Loosen an area at least 36″ wide and 18″ deep, then plant the rose at soil level or slightly deeper (1 to 2 inches) than it was in the pot to add stability. Gently loosen the roots before planting if they are tight. Own root roses have no graft or bud union to be taken into consideration when planting them. Care should be taken on grafted roses, which most are, to not plant the graft below the soil line. After they are planted, we recommend using two to three inches of mulch on the surface of the soil to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and encourage healthy root growth.
Watering and Fertilizing
After planting, water the roses in well. Slow, deep watering is best, repeated every three days at first (depending on your local conditions), then less frequently as they become established. An inch of water per week is recommended, whether from rain or irrigation. Roses need excellent drainage, so avoid waterlogged soil. Fertilize with a water-soluble fertilizer two weeks after planting in spring, then once or twice a month thereafter. A slow release fertilizer may be applied at the beginning of the growing season if you prefer. Stop fertilizing six weeks before you expect frost as the roses need to harden off for the winter.
There are occasional problems with pests that might arise. Often, a simple spray with water, being sure to hit the undersides of the leaves, will keep pest populations at a minimal level. We’ve also had good results using insecticidal soaps. Do not spray Rugosa roses as their leaves are very sensitive and many types of sprays may cause them to defoliate.
Most young roses need some winter protection until they become established. After the leaves begin to drop or night-time temperatures are consistently below 30 degrees, pile soil, compost or mulch 6 to 12″ high around the base of the bush. For tender roses, or in the most severe climates, you may want to wrap the plant with burlap for added protection against drying winds. If the winter is dry, water the roses about once a month.
For the first 2 or 3 years, prune only the dead wood from the plant. If the rose is a type that blooms only once in the spring, wait until after it is finished blooming to prune. If the rose blooms repeatedly throughout the season, prune when the leaves begin to emerge in the spring. To encourage open growth in your rose, make all cuts about a quarter inch above a leaf bud that points out from the center of the bush. As your rose matures, thin out a third of the oldest canes at ground level. Also remove any branches that cross or grow inward. To encourage new blooms during the season, “deadhead”, or remove spent blooms from the bush by pinching off the bloom just above a leaflet. Some people prefer cutting the stem just above the first outward-facing leaf with 5 (or more) leaflets. Late in the season, leave the flowers on the rose to encourage hip formation and aid the plant in hardening off for winter.