Most roses start the summer strong with lots of colorful flowers and lush, leafy growth. The right summer care can keep your roses healthy and flowering through the heat of summer and into autumn. With a little pruning, feeding, mulching, watering, and an eye out for trouble, and you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of roses for gorgeous garden displays, or cutting for bouquets. Here’s a short, easy, 5-step guide for what you need to know to keep your roses happy all summer.
If you're looking for roses that bloom relentlessly all summer long with little-to-no care, we include our favorites below the care guide section.
Need the quick version? Watch the video for summer rose care tips in under a minute.
5 Ways to Care for Roses in Summer
1. Depending on your rose type, you may need to lightly prune your roses after the first bloom is over.
Older varieties of shrub roses need a light summer prune once their first flush of flowers fades. This is not like the major cutting back done in late winter or early spring, but a light prune to remove spent flowers and encourage leafy, new growth.
However, for newer rose varieties like Grace N' Grit™ and Nitty Gritty™, no pruning or deadheading is needed. Only prune these roses for size and shape if you desire. Always remove dead stems and limbs no matter the rose variety.
If you have roses that require summer pruning, here are a few tips:
Don’t just deadhead and clip spent blooms; cut flowering stems back to two or three sets of leaves. Think of it like cutting roses for a bouquet and you’ll get the length right.
Expect to see your plants back in full flower about four weeks from pruning.
Stop pruning 3 to 4 weeks before the first hard frost to discourage new growth that may be damaged by the cold.
2. Feed your roses
No matter the type of rose you're caring for, you can keep it healthy by feeding it with a well-balanced fertilizer (look for three numbers that are the same on the package, like "5-5-5"). Fertilizing roses is especially important if you are pruning them mid-summer because the new growth draws on the plant’s energy reserves; feed now and water as needed so plants aren’t stressed.
Apply the balanced fertilizer or rose food around the base of the plant according to the directions, followed by a deep watering. Watch the video above for a visual guide.
3. Keep roses watered and mulched, especially in dry conditions
Whether your roses are planted in the ground or in containers, it's best to test the soil before watering. If the top 1-2" is dry, then give them a deep soak.
Create a watering well around the base of the rose by pushing soil out from around the base of the plant to form a basin in which to capture water. Then, deeply soak at least once a week while roses are in growth and flower. Make sure the soil around your roses is topped with a layer of mulch (about 2 inches deep), pulled back from the base of the plant.
Improved, own-root roses like Grace N' Grit™ and Nitty Gritty™ are actually quite tolerant of dry conditions once established, so you may not need to do much irrigation after their first year in the ground.
Roses in containers will need to be watered more often, especially in dry, hot weather. Roses that are planted in containers look fabulous but do require more watering because the soil dries more quickly than when planted in the ground.
4. Make a clean routine
Half the battle with keeping roses healthy, especially in summer, is stopping trouble in its tracks. Start with roses that are more disease resistant such as Grace N’ Grit™, Nitty Gritty™, Seaside Swirl™ rugosas, and other notable varieties that have been bred for increased disease resistance. Grace N' Grit™ and Nitty Gritty™ roses have both shown high resistance to disease in our extensive trials across the country.
To keep your older more disease-prone varieties healthy, try these tips:
Clean up the debris such as trimmings, spent blooms, and dead leaves from the area under and around the plant. These are a breeding ground for fungal diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew.
Make sure pruners are clean before starting to prune and be sure to clean them when moving from plant to plant.
5. Stay ahead of trouble
While keeping plants healthy can reduce problems, it doesn’t make them immune from insects. Stay ahead of pest infestations by catching early and treating with the appropriate method. Take a tip from Monrovia's plant health team and keep pests at bay with beneficial insects such as aphid-eating ladybugs (their larvae actually do most of the aphid eating). Get to know and encourage beneficial insects in your garden, and avoid the use of pesticides to avoid harming these natural allies.
Always start with the least harmful method of control and only “escalate” if you’re not getting results. Plant problems and solutions are often regionally specific, that's why we recommend consulting your local nursery or extension office for help identifying pests and selecting remedies.
3 Favorite Easy-Care Grace N' Grit™ Shrub Roses
Grace N' Grit™ Roses are a Monrovia exclusive, own-root rose with outstanding disease resistance, self-cleaning flowers, and proven performance coast to coast in heat and humidity as well as dry, hot summers. They require very little care and require neither deadheading nor pruning. Upright bouquets of beautiful, double blooms on a fuss-free shrub that will endure the trials of a long, hot summer with unwavering blooming zeal. The prolific, bold flowers and lush foliage make a dynamic hedge, barrier, or accent plant. Full sun. Up to 5' tall, 4' wide. Zones 4-9.
Another Monrovia-exclusive, own-root rose that's tough as nails, this fuss-free groundcover rose produces an abundance of lovely blooms while offering excellent disease resistance and a self-cleaning, easy-to-care-for habit. The double blooms provide exquisite warm-season color from late spring through early fall, adding great low-maintenance curb appeal to the landscape.
They are perfect for front border plantings and as accent plants. Interplant them for a low, colorful hedge row or enjoy them as a container specimen. You can't go wrong with these easy-going roses. Full sun. Up to 3' tall, 4' wide. Zones 4-9.