I discovered roses as a young man, clutching a bouquet on my way to visit a young lady. The scent and beauty of the flowers made an impression on me and ever since I have been fond of roses and their place in a good garden. The millennium drought changed a lot of things about our gardens and one of them was the behavior of the roses. Largely, they blossomed. It turned out we had been watering our roses too often and as watering restrictions were applied the roses showed their true colors. Well mulched and protected from drying winds roses are well suited to a low water environment.
Watering roses – what you need to know
- Deep roots – deep roots can access more water and the plant will cope with dry, hot weather much better. Deep roots are promoted by watering longer, less often.
- Don’t water the leaves – roses are prone to black spot and other fungal leaf conditions. Most watering should be to the roots, not the leaves. A weekly wash for dust and pests is OK, but make sure the leaves are dry by nightfall.
- Good drainage – roses don’t like wet feet
- Check the soil – Dig down into the soil around the plant beneath the surface, if the soil is dry down to about 10cm you need to water.
- Mulch – by reducing evaporation mulch retains moisture in the soil for much longer. Mulch also feeds the soil and saves you weeding, magic stuff.
- Dull leaves, drooping foliage, wilting flowers – Whoa! This plant is way too dry and should have been watered days ago.
- Not many flowers? – try increasing the length of time you water, but not the frequency.
- Check the weather – If you are in for rain you will not need to water, conversely if BOM is predicting a scorcher a good soaking is called for.
In inner city Melbourne even in January you can hand-water roses for 46 minutes twice a month and they will prosper. From March to November you wouldn’t water them at all – have a look at this smartgardenwatering garden to get a good idea of a watering schedule for a garden with roses.
Also, check out these rose vareities on our plant selector:
How often do you water your roses? Have you tried watering longer but less frequently?