Four Tips for Getting Your Roses to Bloom More Profusely
Get bigger, bolder, and more plentiful buds with these expert tips.
There are some well-known methods for getting your rose bushes to bloom more (like deadheading), as well as some lesser-known suggestions that skew more towards myth (the Norwegian fish head method, for example). So, how do you know which tips and tricks will work best in your garden? To cut right to the chase, we asked two garden experts about their best advice for getting bigger and better blooms from your roses—and here's what they had to say.
Buy a bloom-heavy breed.
Some roses are bred to have one spectacular bloom period and then be done for the season, but many varieties will offer nearly season-long blooms with a little extra attention, according to Troy-Bilt's brand gardening expert, Erin Schanen, a master gardener and creator of The Impatient Gardener. If you're hoping for more than one round of blossoms per season, make sure you plant a variety that can physically achieve this.
The practice of deadheading is a common way gardeners get additional blooms from their plants. "Using a sharp pruner (I like to use a small needle-nose snips for this job), follow the spent bloom down the stem to a set of five leaves, and cut the flower stem back to just above it," advises Schanen. "Ideally, you want this set of five leaves to be facing outward so you encourage outward growth, allowing for good airflow for the plant." The more frequently you deadhead, the less time you'll spend on each bush. Plus, your rose bushes will look much better when the spent roses are gone. However, if you're hoping for rose hips in the fall and winter, you'll need to scale back on your deadheading by the end of summer. "You won't get more flowers at that point, but you'll be able to enjoy the colorful hips," notes Schanen.
Fertilize and water on schedule.
Sandra Zazzara, a rose service analyst with Witherspoon Rose Culture, hasn't tried the old Norwegian fish head method herself (the practice of burying a fish with your roses when you plant them), but she does believe that incorporating composted manure into the soil is beneficial to the rose's overall health and growth—including its blooming potential. "As roses are establishing, maintain an adequate water supply to keep them thriving," she says, adding that the use of a blossom boosting water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season can be helpful to spur new blooms, as well.
Don't forget to prune.
Modern roses that bloom on new wood should be pruned judiciously before the buds break in spring, according to Zazzara. "First, look to remove weak, dead, or diseased canes; select about five to seven of the strongest, healthiest canes to keep as the outer framework of the rose bush," she says. "Then, cut down the height of those five to seven canes to about the knee, removing any of the side branches coming off them." Finally, she says to prune out any canes in the center of the bush. "Imagine creating a 'basket' whereby you would be able to place a basketball in the center of the bush surrounded by those main canes you've selected."