Your Guide for Planting & Caring for a Rose Garden

Your roses will grow vigorously and provide pleasure for many years if you attend to the following points:

  1. site selection and soil preparation
  2. plant selection
  3. planting instructions
    1. container grown
    2. bare root planting
    3. recommended spacing
  4. seasonal maintenance
    1. pruning rose bushes
    2. hardy shrubs
    3. climbers & miniatures
    4. fertilization
    5. water
    6. deadheading
    7. insect & disease control
    8. winter protection

Ideal planting time is early spring, as soon as the ground has thawed.

Prepare and amend your soil for planting by mixing into the existing soil generous amounts of well-rotted manure, compost, peat moss or a triple mix blend of soil.

DO NOT ADD any fertilizers at planting time. (unless you use a water-soluble transplanting root starter), i.e. Transplant Fertilizer.

Huronia Rose Society ONLY sells Rose bushes grown in Ontario at the Barrie and Orillia Farmers’ Markets in May. Therefore, even tender roses are hardy, with protection.


  • Dig a hole 1½ x the depth and width of the container.
  • Make sure the hole is deep enough to BURY the BUD UNION 4-6 inches below the surface once the rose has been planted.
  • Remove the pot, even the fibre type, and be careful not to disturb the root ball when placing the rose in the hole.
  • Half fill the hole with soil, fill with water and allow to drain.
  • Finish filling the hole with soil.
  • Some protection from sun and wind is recommended for 1 – 2 weeks until new roots are established.


These roses may be purchased by catalogue order and will arrive with little covering the roots.

Immediately place the roots in a bucket of water overnight and keep the roots moist at all times.

If the roses cannot be planted at once, bury the plants in moist earth until planting time. Before planting, cut back broken or damaged roots and canes to healthy tissue.

Now you are ready to plant the roses keeping in mind that BARE ROOT roses should have their roots spread out in the hole.

REFER to the planting of container grown roses and REMEMBER to BURY the BUD UNION
4 – 6 INCHES below the surface upon planting.


(i.e. Hybrid Teas, Floribundas)

Rose Bushes (2 – 3 ft.) apart
Shrub Roses/Climber (3 – 5 ft.) apart
Miniatures (1 – 2 ft.) apart

Newly Planted: Should be cut back leaving three to four strong canes (4 – 5” long).  (Except for miniatures that may not need further pruning).

Established: Rose bushes are pruned after the winter protection has been removed in the spring, when the canes show signs of growth, or when the FORSTYHIA is in bloom in your area.

Cut out any dead or diseased canes to ground level. Remove weak, twiggy and crossing canes to their point of origin, leaving only 3 – 6 healthy canes of at least pencil thickness to live wood as indicated by white pith. Pruning cuts are to be made with sharp shears, about ¼” above outward facing bud on a 450 angle.


Hardy Shrub Roses: Since these roses are much hardier than other types, it will not be necessary to do much pruning. Prune out any winterkill. After 2 or 3 years remove the oldest canes, at ground level. These roses require much less work.

When first planting, treat as a rose bush. In subsequent years, since the bush will not die back but keep on growing, only prune dead tips in the spring as needed. When the bush is 3 to 4 years old, and annually thereafter, remove one or two of the oldest cases right at ground level, preferably after the main flush of growth is over. By September leave all flowers to produce seed pods.

Cut these back to live wood.

DO NOT FERTILIZE newly planted roses. When spring clean up has been completed fertilize ESTABLISHED roses according to the directions on the container. Next fertilization is before the peak of bloom (June) and the final third application mid-July.

Epsom salts and Alfalfa pellets/meal are of benefit at the first and second fertilization.

APPLICATIONS after July ARE NOT RECOMMENDED because the bush needs to
prepare for winter and go dormant.

Two gallons of water per plant once a week, preferably applied at ground level and early in the morning to allow foliage to dry by nightfall. This will help prevent disease.

Removal of spent flowers ensures a continuous supply of blooms. Cut just above an outward facing 5 leaflet leaf on a cane strong enough to support new bloom.


Insects can be controlled by hand picking and/or the use of insecticidal soap.

Disease control can be prevented by growing healthy plants, good air circulation, keeping soil surface clean of debris, watering in the morning not wetting the foliage. A dormant-oil spray early in spring & before winter protection will keep disease down.  Powdered sulphur on the soil surface also can help.

Tender Roses (H.T, Fl., Climbers): Cut canes back to about (28 – 40”) to prevent them whipping about in the wind. Remove all dead leaves and any debris from the bed. Mound compost/soil/bark chips (8 – 12”) high over the rose for protection. Evergreen boughs may be used to hold the snow over the roses to protect against the elements.

Hardy Shrub Roses: Need almost no winter protection as long as they have snow cover or some method to block strong winter winds.