Article written by: Khadejah Scott, Extension Agent, UF/IFAS Extension – Wakulla County

Roses are renowned for their exquisite blossoms throughout the world. They can bloom for at least nine months of the year here in North Florida. Roses can be incorporated into plant beds, shown as a specimen plants, or planted in a separate garden just for them. The famous proverb “Every rose has its thorn” is well-known and frequently used to illustrate an important fact about life – nothing is perfect. Roses can be either low- or high-maintenance. Low-maintenance roses require little care and include the “old garden roses” and shrub roses. Hybrid tea, Grandiflora, floribunda, and polyantha roses (“modern” roses) are considered high maintenance since they require frequent grooming, fertilizing, watering, and spraying. It’s important to choose rose varieties that work well and fit your lifestyle if you want to cultivate roses. Below are some facts about cultivating roses in the landscape.

a pink rose
A rose. Gardening, ornamentals. flowers. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.


Roses require at least six hours per day of direct sunlight. It is preferable to place plants in open areas where their roots won’t compete with one another for moisture and nutrients. Where shade is unavoidable, pick a spot that receives early sunlight. The optimum soil for growing roses drains properly while holding enough moisture and nutrients. To a depth of 12 inches, thoroughly and evenly mix amendments with 2-4 inches of organic material. These amendments work best when introduced to light, sandy soils, and easily compacted soils.


Roses in containers are generally offered for sale all year round at nearby nurseries. Early spring is the ideal time to plant roses. Create a hole that is at least as deep as the root ball. After removing the root ball from the container, loosen the circling roots by hand. The rose should be planted at the same depth that it was in the container. Each plant should have a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch (compost, wood chips, pine needles, etc.) applied around it. The mulch should be kept about an inch away from the main stem.

A rose bush with pink blooms
A rose bush. Gardening, ornamentals. flowers. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.


For 6 to 8 weeks after planting, water roses frequently to establish. The majority of modern roses require weekly watering and spraying, periodic grooming to remove old blossoms, monthly fertilization (February to November), and early spring pruning and mulching. Most low-maintenance roses are somewhat disease resistant and will survive with few to no sprays. Grooming is required to keep them healthy, attractive, and productive. The type of rose and your preferences will determine how frequently you should groom it. After each bloom cycle, prune away faded flowers, break off suckers that sprout from the rootstock, and remove dead wood and canes that exhibit disease symptoms to properly groom your plants.

Because of their stunning color and potent aroma, roses have long been a favorite plant for landscapes. Your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and local rose society are excellent resources for information on color, variety selection, and other topics.

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