National Rose Month – Vol. 2/4 – Watering and Fertilizing


Watering: Under normal conditions, roses need an inch of water a week. Sandy soil dries out more quickly than a clay or loam and thus needs more frequent watering, perhaps every 5 days instead of once a week. Adding organic matter, such as Leaf Gro, to a sandy soil can help it hold moisture so that watering is not needed as frequently. It is important to water deeply (12 to 18 inches) but as infrequently as possible to encourage deep roots. Roses with deep roots will be stronger, healthier, and more drought resistant than those with shallow roots. Water early in the day so that the leaves do not stay wet throughout the night, as this fosters disease, especially if you are using an overhead watering system rather than a drip system.

Mulch applied to the top of the soil not only holds moisture, but also deters weeds, which are notorious water thieves. If your roses are planted near a large tree or shrub, you may need to compensate by giving the roses extra water. Read more about mulching your landscape here.

Newly planted roses should be watered daily for about a week, and then every few days until new growth is evident. At that time, they can be watered in the same way as any other rose in the garden. If they show signs of wilting, you need to keep up the more frequent watering until they become established.

Drip Irrigation is economical, as it uses less water than overhead watering, as water is applied only to the ground where it can be absorbed by the roots. Irrigation prevents foliage and flowers from getting wet, thus protecting them from diseases and water damage.

There are 2 major kinds of drip systems: emitters and soaker hoses.

An emitter system consists of a rigid main tubing interspersed with small holes from which flexible, narrow tubes called emitters extend. The ends of the emitters are capped with small nozzles that emit water in a gentle drop or stream. These are placed wherever there is a plant to be watered; if there are not plants for a stretch of main tubing, the holes can be plugged. It is best to bury the system, as this keeps the ultraviolet rays of the sun from weakening the plastic hoses and insulates the system from winter freezing. It is also more attractive.

The Gardener’s Drip Kit contains: (1) faucet connection, (50′) 1/2″ emitter tubing, (50′) 1/2″ tubing, (25′) 1/4″ tubing, (2) 1/2″ barbed couplings, (3) 1/2″ barbed tees, (2) 1/2″ barbed elbows, (1) 1/2″ end closure, (10) galvanized stakes, (5) 1/4″ barbed tees, (2) 1/4″ barbed couplings, (5) 1/4″ tubing stakes, (10) 1/4″ tubing plugs, (5) 1.0 GPH spot watering emitters

Johnson’s carries Rain Bird drip irrigation systems. The Gardener’s Drip Kit will get you started, then you can purchase the additional pieces as needed for your garden! ***

Soaker hoses exude water through pores or pinholes all along their length instead of at a designated location. The tubular micropore hoses have a spongelike network of tiny holes through which beads of water “sweat” over the surface of the hose. Like emitter systems, it is best to conceal soaker hoses under mulch or bury them underground to protect them from the elements and prolong their life. Your local Johnson’s has soaker hoses in 25 and 50 ft. lengths.

soakerhoseRoses can be watered with sprinklers or other overhead methods if watering is done in the morning so that the foliage has time to dry out. Like many plants, leaves and canes that stay wet overnight are vulnerable to disease. Even if you have a drip irrigation system, occasional overhead watering every several weeks can help rid leaves of dust and spray residue, and can discourage spider mites, which thrive on foliage that is hot and dry. Johnson’s carries oscillating, pulsating, and whirling sprinklers. An oscillating sprinkler is best for large gardens because its rectangular coverage results in less overlapping and thus less wasted water.

Several types of nozzles are also available. Handheld pistol nozzles can deliver water from a hard spray to a fine mist, as can nozzles with twist controls. The hard spray is for knocking aphids and other pests off the plants, the intermediate spray is good for general watering, and the fine mist can be used to raise humidity. Fan-shaped nozzles give a wide, coarse spray that is useful for watering small rose beds. Soaker heads are good for watering containers or filling the catch basins of plants.

Use a watering timer to turn water on and off automatically. We also have hose repair kits should your hose spring a leak!

Click here for more information on watering trees and shrubs.

NPKratioFertilizers contain 3 elements that are basic for plant growth: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (abbreviated as N, P, and K). Nitrogen promotes stem and leaf growth and deep green color, and stimulates early spring growth. Phosphorous encourages root growth and flower production, and is necessary for photosynthesis. Potassium helps regulate the metabolism of the plant and contributes to hardiness, vigor, good flower color, and disease resistance.

Roses need to be fertilized often. Feed roses throughout the growing season, as soon as they are pruned, after the first flush of bloom, and about two months before the first fall frost.

RosetoneYou can use Espoma Rose-tone to grow bigger, more beautiful blooms. Rose-tone is a premium rose food designed to supply the necessary nutrients for growing prize winning roses. Rose-tone is an all natural, long-lasting organic fertilizer ideal for roses and other flowering plants. Use at the time of planting, then monthly during the growing season.

Download and print our Tips & Info sheets:

Rose varieties

Rose Care & Pruning

*** Updated 5/18/2017: No drip irrigation systems in stock.

National Rose Month – Vol. 2/4 – Watering and Fertilizing

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