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Caring for Roses – March Madness

by Paul Gosnell, Master Gardener Volunteer

Everyone loves roses, but not everyone has success in growing them. Be realistic, roses have a reputation for being difficult to grow. It doesn’t have to be that way. They simply need routine attention. So it is important to set up a habit to care for your roses.

In February, you pruned back your roses and now it’s March and they are beginning to bud. Your roses should have been fed and a fungicide program started. Note the growth of your bushes. You may have to finger prune them if they send out too much growth. You just take your thumb and knock off the weaker of the growths. Remember you want as much sunshine and air circulation in the middle of the bush. Don’t forget to water your roses. Summarizing:

Established roses:

  • Finger prune weaker shoots
  • Keep the center portion of the rose “open” to air and sunshine
  • One cup of time release fertilizer (16-16-16) around the base of the plant; ¼ cup for miniatures (a minimum of Spring and Fall)
  • Work the fertilizer into the soil
  • Consider a mixture of fish meal, blood meal and alfalfa meal
  • Spray the underside of the rose leaves with a fungicide (follow instructions on product); alternate products every other month
  • Mulch, up to four inches
  • Throw a handful (1/4 cup) of Epsom salt around the rose (magnesia)
  • Water at least one inch per week and two inches in hotter months

New roses:
Now that you have decided on your new rose—and March is a good time to plant—you will need to prepare the site. Remember, right plant, right place, bare root or container.

  • Amend soil with organic material (manure, sphagnum peat moss, compost)
  • Raise the bed (8 to 12 inches) to provide better drainage ||
  • Water the area well and let it settle
  • After planting, mulch
  • Stake small, young plants
  • Put roses in program as above

Get in the habit of marking your calendar when you fertilized and sprayed fungicide. While you are marking your calendar, put down the 17th of April as the Jacksonville Rose Society’s 52nd show. Details will be in the paper. Then enjoy the beauty of this wonderful American flower.

More information:

Rose Calendar

Growing Roses in Florida

Pests of Roses in Florida



Rebecca Jordi
Horticulture Agent IV
County Extension Director
Contributing Editor