This month-by-month guide is oriented to growing roses in our mild climate and sandy soils.
The coastal plain of South Carolina is in USDA Climate Zone 8. This area has mild winters, with low temperatures seldom dropping below 20. Annual rainfall averages 45 to 55 inches.
July - December Guide
*Point your cursor on the photo to identify it.
January - February
Roses need watering in winter too. Water roses in pots or in the ground whenever the ground feels dry just below the surface to protect them from cold damage.
March - April
- January is a good time to apply a light feeding of 0-20-20 to promote root growth.
- Spray roses with dormant oil, fungicide and pesticide to prevent diseases and kill insect eggs. Some also use a lime-sulfur spray during this cool season.
- Prune roses during the last two weeks of February.
- Divide miniature roses with woody centers by splitting the plant into several sections and replanting. Discard woody growth.
- Plant bareroot roses as soon as possible after you receive them. Soak the plants in water for 12 to 24 hours before planting to rehydrate the roots. In coastal S.C., we generally plant roses so the graft bud union is 2 inches above ground level. After planting, mound up well over the bud union with soil, water well, and protect canes from drying winds until new growth begins.
- Remove all dead and diseased leaves from the bushes and from the ground.
- Take down climbing roses and remove old canes. Tie up and train good canes to grow horizontally. Do not prune once-bloomers until after their first bloom.
- Visit local garden centers to see what roses are available.
- Send off soil samples for testing if this was not done in the fall. Roses grow best at a pH of about 6.5.
This is probably the busiest time of the year for the rosarian. We are finishing up our spring pruning, beginning our spray program, adding organics to the soil and giving the roses their first spring feeding.
May - June
- You may still plant new rose bushes, especially container-grown roses.
- Begin your spray program two weeks after you finish pruning. Now is the time to spray everything - the pruned bushes and the ground around them with a fungicide-insecticide of your choice.
- From March through October, continue a bi-weekly fungicide spray schedule. The key to healthy rose bushes and beautiful blooms is consistency in your spray program. Be sure to rotate fungicides to prevent resistance to the chemicals used.
- Do not apply pesticides unless you see a problem. Adding pesticides to your spray solution indiscriminately will kill beneficial insects and increase your chance for a spider mite infestation. If you spot a bug problem, spray the problem area with the appropriate chemical.
- Check your garden for aphids as soon as new growth emerges. Aphids appear as soon as the weather warms and they feed on new growth and flower buds. Blast the critters off with a strong spray of water or mist the tops of plants with insecticide to keep foliage clean.
- Roses love to be fed regularly. Roses need lots of food for foliage and bloom. High rainfall and frequent waterings tend to leach fertilizer out of our sandy coastal soil. Many rosarians feed their roses every other week.
- Add organics and work them into the soil. Take your choice of the following: mushroom compost, composted manures, alfalfa meal or pellets, cottonseed meal, blood meal, fish meal, or a mixture of the above. Pre-mixed organics are available in garden centers and specialized vendors.
- Keep your roses well watered. Provide adequate water throughout this rapid growing period. Water makes it all work - the organics, the food, the microbes. Roses grown in our sandy soils need at least one to two inches of water each week.
- Mulch your roses with pine straw, pine bark or other materials. Pile on the mulch at least 3 to 4 inches thick, leaving the bud union and grafts exposed to the sunshine.
- Be on the lookout for spider mites. They arrive when the weather warms. Look for telltale yellowing of lower leaves. Blasting them off the undersides of leaves with a water wand works. This must be repeated in 3-4 days to get newly hatching mites. Or an miticide such as Avid may be used.
- Watch weather reports and respond to freeze warnings (if they come) by piling on mulch, organics or soil to protect the bud union from late spring freezes.
The first flush of blooms in late April and early May makes us rejoice in the beauty of our hobby. The rose shows generate excitement and pride, celebrations with family and friends abound.
- Your first roses were glorious. To keep them beautiful all season, May and June are times to continue regular care. Water roses deeply several times a week during times of little rainfall.
- Apply organics after the first flush of bloom. Apply two to three cups per bush, or one cup per mini.
- Continue your spray program for disease and pest control.
- Deadhead faded blooms regularly to promote more flowers.