Design & Preparation of the Bed
Location: The rose garden should be located in an area which receives at least 6 - 8 hours of sun a day, preferably morning sun. Beds that are built on a gentle slope allow for better drainage and air circulation. Plant away from trees and large shrubs to avoid roots and shade. Locate near an outside water supply.
Spacing: It is more satisfactory to plant rose bushes in beds, spacing the center of the bushes 2 ½ - 3 feet apart. It is difficult to care for plants if more than 3 rows are planted together because internal accessibility is limited. Climbing roses need to be spaced approximately 6 - 10 feet apart.
Soil Mixture: The entire bed should be dug and turned over to a depth of 16". Create a good loamy soil by mixing two 40 lb. bags of Witherspoon's Planting Mix per bush. If mix is unavailable, use at least 50 lb. of composted cow manure, one bag of soil conditioner and 40 lb. of PermaTill® for every 2 bushes. To develop stronger canes and foliage, and to stimulate root growth, broadcast over the bed 3 cups per bush of Witherspoon Planting Essentials. If this special planting stimulant is unavailable, substitute 1 cup per bush of each: lime, gypsum and bonemeal. After all materials have been added, till the bed thoroughly. Advance preparation of the soil in fall is advisable to allow for settling, but is not necessary.
Do not use quick-release commercial fertilizer in the soil until after new roses bloom, as this will burn the roots.
How many rose bushes should I buy? The size of the bed space will help you determine how many bushes you can use. 2.5 - 3 feet is needed for most Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras and Floribundas. Refer to the rose descriptions in the catalog for Shrubs and Grandifloras. Climbers usually require about 6 feet and Miniatures are happy with 1.5 feet.
How can I ever choose? Witherspoon has the finest selection of premium roses in the country. We invite you to visit our "living catalog" garden at 3312 Watkins Road in Durham NC, or call our staff, 800-643-0315, if you have questions beyond our catalog.
Planting Bareroot Roses
Fresh bareroot roses should always be planted as soon after receiving them as possible. Soak the roots in a tub of water 2 hours prior to planting.(Figure 1)
Lift out enough soil to allow roots to spread naturally in the hole (1 foot deep and 2 feet in diameter). Add 3 cups of Witherspoon Planting Essentials
per bush if you did not previously add it during soil preparation. Mix well. Form an inverted cone of your soil mixture in the center of the hole.(Figure 2)
Set the plant so that the roots rest down the sides of the cone. The graft knob should be slightly above the ground level.
Replace the soil and pack carefully around the roots eliminating air pockets under the roots.
Leave a slight basin around the plant and water using 3 to 5 gallons per plant. Finish filling the hole with soil.
Finally, mound soil or shredded mulch to the top of the plant and leave until danger of freezing is past. (This is usually around the third week of April in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.) This prevents the canes from drying out or freezing until the root action begins. If planting after danger of frost, mound plants for 3 to 4 weeks to ensure a good start.
Planting Potted Roses
Prepare the bed the same as for bareroot roses. Remove enough soil to carefully set the intact ball of dirt into the hole. Add 3 cups of Witherspoon Planting Essentials
per bush if you did not previously add it during soil preparation. Mix well. Set the plant so the graft knob is slightly above ground level. Replace the soil and pack firmly. Leave a slight basin around the plant and water using 3 to 5 gallons per plant.
*Mound as described above. If planting after the leaves are fully developed, mounding is not necessary.Fertilizing
Newly planted roses should NOT be fertilized until they bloom.
Begin fertilizing established plants in late March with Witherspoon Premium 2-in-1 Fertilizer
, simply apply 2 cups per bush! As a substitute, you may use one application of a quick release rose fertilizer in March and a time release fertilizer applied in May. An alternative program would include an application of quick release fertilizer repeated monthly until 8 weeks prior to the first predicted frost.Watering
Water is a very important factor in growing roses. Water weekly during the blooming season (April-October) with 5 gallons of water per bush. Allow the water to run long enough to penetrate at least 8 inches deep unless there has been sufficient rainfall to penetrate equally. DO NOT USE A SPRINKLER, which encourages blackspot and mildew. We recommend Shur-Flo™ Watersavers
. They are inexpensive, efficient and quickly installed.
Water Savers deliver a gentle flow of water, ideal for ROSES!
• Economical & Efficient
• Time Saving!
• Use with standard garden hose
Prevention of Diseases and Insects
A regular spraying program is essential to prevent and/or control fungus diseases and insects. In North Carolina we spray from April through October. Do not spray when the temperature is over 86°F because this will burn the foliage.
Spray should be applied to the underside of the foliage as well as on top and inside the blooms.
Use only freshly mixed formula. The formula is not effective if mixed and stored."Witherspoon Spray Formula."
1 gallon water 5 teaspoons Captan 50%
2 ½ teaspoons Halt or Thiomyl
1 ½ teaspoons Acephate or Orthene*
½ teaspoon Spreader Sticker
* 4 teaspoons of liquid Sevin may be used in place of Acephate or Orthene but only during prevalence of Japanese Beetles.
Dormant Spray with Lime Sulfur
during dormancy (January in NC, other regions may differ) you should spray bed and bushes with liquid Lime Sulfur. Dormant spray may be repeated after two weeks if diseases and insects were a problem during the previous growing year. Do not use Lime Sulfur after dormancy breaks and sprouts form.
Mulching & Weed Control
A good mulch, such as pine bark, placed around the plants helps prevent weeds, helps conserve moisture, and keeps the ground cooler in summer and warmer in winter. We recommend a 2" layer of Witherspoon Pine Bark Mini-Nuggets
Most herbicides are extremely toxic to roses. Round-up can be used successfully outside your bed if done VERY carefully. Pre-emergent herbicide granules can be used to prevent growth of weeds if sprinkled over a weed-free bed.Cutting Back
In late November or December, after the blooms have been frost bitten, cut back the tall spindly growth to approximately "waist high" (3') to help prevent damage from wind, snow or ice.Pruning
The purpose of pruning is to remove dead, diseased and unhealthy canes as well as to maintain the desired shape of the bush. Reducing the size of the plant at the appropriate time allows for needed air circulation.When to prune:
The best time to prune is when new growth on previously dormant canes reaches ¼" ‚ ½". This marks the time when "dormancy breaks."
How to prune:
Using sharp shears
, cut above an outside bud at a 45° downward angle. Thin out the center and remove any branch which crosses or rubs against another branch. When a choice between two close-growing canes must be made, leave the newest and healthiest cane. Cut out all weak or diseased canes. The severity of pruning is determined by climate and personal preference. Colder climates require a more severe pruning of 12" - 14" high. Moderate pruning is approximately 24" - 30" high (anything 48" or above is considered high pruning).How to prune specific varieties:
Roses are used in a wide variety of landscaping applications. Pruning should reflect the desired usage. Floribundas used as low borders should be cut more severely. Climbers should conform to the trellis or available area. Eliminate all but 5 or 6 strong canes about 6 feet in length. Prune one-time bloomers after flowering. Depending on the variety, miniature roses should be pruned to a height of 5" - 10". Shrub roses, in general, should be pruned by 1/3 of the height.After pruning:
To reduce dieback and protect canes from rose borers, you may want to paint the cane ends with a clear shellac or yellow wood glue. Insulated wire ties
may be used to attach a climber to the supporting structure.Cutting blooms
Cutting blooms encourages more profuse flowering and better quality blooms. At the time of cutting, it is important to take a container
of water to the garden. A floral preservative
may be used in the water.
Ensure healthy, continuous growth by following the 5 leaflet rule of thumb. Early in the blooming season the stems will be short. Look down the stem, locate the second leaf that has 5 leaflets and cut just above this growth. As the plants develop and the stems grow longer, it will be necessary to cut just above the third or fourth 5 leaflet. New growth forms at the place of cutting.
After this new growth has bloomed, cut at a 5 leaflet below the previous cut.
Keep all dead canes and dead blooms removed from the plant. This will help direct the plant's energy into the development of stronger new growth, maintain an attractive well-shaped plant, and reduce the risk of wind and rain damage.
Spray residue can be removed by wiping the leaves of the cut rose with a nylon stocking.
Maintenance CalendarThis calendar was adapted for the North Carolina Piedmont.January
• Apply dormant spray (Lime-Sulfur
) to existing rose bushes.
• Come to the Garden Shop to pick up your new bareroot roses or place your order to be shipped.
• Begin planting bareroot roses.February
• Prune existing roses.
• Plant bareroot roses.March
• Apply Witherspoon Premium 2-in-1 Fertilizer
to established roses.
• Plant bareroot roses.
• Remove mulch, top dress with a 2" layer of cow manure and replace mulch.April
• After danger of frost, remove mulch from around the graft.
• Begin regular spraying every 7-10 days through October.
• Plant potted roses.
• Check Shur-Flo™
• If you are NOT
using Witherspoon Premium 2-in-1 Fertilizer
, apply slow-release fertilizer now or continue monthly feedings of quick-release fertilizer through mid-August (or 6 weeks prior to expected frost).
• Continue planting potted roses.June-October
• Deadhead roses.
• Water weekly.
• Continue spray program.
• Order new roses in October.November
• Prepare new beds for planting.
• Order new roses.
• Every 2-3 years, have the soil tested and adjust the pH level to a range of 6-6.5.
• Cut back roses to "waist high" (3').
• Place mulch 6" high over graft for winter protection.
• Order new roses.