Just Roses

Roses are planted bare root in January or February, but other rose tasks may also be done this month.


    • New roses of many varieties are featured in magazines and articles or view them on-line. Look for those you like, select ones that are suitable for your area and buy them bare root. Consider the aesthetic qualities of roses as well as size when placing them in the landscape.

    • Soak bare root plants for 2 to 4 hours in a bucket of water to rehydrate roots.


    • Prune existing roses to remove diseased and damaged wood, regulate size and shape, and improve bloom quality.

    • Use clean, sharp tools to avoid splitting or crushing canes and branches, cut ¼ inch above a bud or leaf joint and make cuts at a 45° angle to the branch.

    • Leave three to five canes in a vase-shaped configuration when pruning hybrid teas, grandifloras or floribundas.

    • Remove leaves from roses to force dormancy, if this task has not already been done.


    • Roses have a long growing and blooming season here, so a regular feeding schedule is important. Usual fertilizing months for established plants are February and September.

    • At planting time, apply a rose fertilizer to new plants.


    • This is the time to move and transplant roses. Prepare a hole 2 feet wide and deep enough to keep the graft above ground level.

   •  Make a mound of soil in the middle of the hole. Spread the roots as much as possible and place the rose on the mound. Add soil until the hole is about two thirds full then fill it with water and let it soak in, finish filling the hole and water again. Use the regular soil and tamp down to remove any air pockets.

   • Fertilize with a rose planting product and follow label instructions. Remember to water regularly if there has not been any rain.

   • Dress beds with organic material and mulch to control weeds.

   • Keep mulch back from the base of the rose plant.

   • Water if rainfall is less than normal.

Enjoy now:

    • Survey the completion of the first task of the new year, pruning roses, and look forward to the first spring rose in April.

Things to Ponder:

    • Roses grow to different heights depending on the variety from the lower landscape/shrub roses and floribundas to the taller hybrid tea and grandifloras. Keep this in mind when placing roses in your garden. 

Source: Adapted from “A Gardener’s Companion for the Central San Joaquin Valley,” 3rd edition, currently available from Fresno County Master Gardeners for $30. These can be purchased at our demonstration garden-Garden of the Sun (1750 N. Winery (McKinley/Winery), open Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 am to Noon and via email at mgfresno@ucdavis.edu. Gardening questions answered as well at mgfresno@ucdavis.edu. Prepared by Judy Parker, Master Gardener UCCE Fresno County.

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