University of Vermont Extension System
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Growing Roses in Vermont     OH 68

Leonard P. Perry, Extension Professor


*large family Rosaceae, includes many other ornamentals (flower, shrubs, trees)

*one of most complex groups of ornamentals, thousands of cultivars in various classes

*native to most parts of the world, depending on the species

*one of oldest cultivated groups of plants, first mentioned in 2300 BC

*used herbally as well as ornamentally over centuries, hips rich in vitamin C


*growth rate, height, width, hardiness all vary with cultivar (see separate listing)


*check fertility, pH with soil test--lime if needed

*dig large hole as possible, 2 times as wide and across as roots (if possible)

*amend backfill with up to half compost, peat moss or similar organic matter

*add phosphorus in hole at planting

* key is to cover bud graft--lower swollen area on most roses--less hardy area

*if bare root (just that in spring, only buds on top), mound soil over most of canes--helps prevent canes and buds from drying out, helps prevent suckers from below bud graft


*soil--well-drained, some species prefer sandy


*watering--well watered

*fertility--high fertility as with rose fertilizer; organic may not be sufficient unless highly fertile and organic soil; may combine organic such as seaweed or fish emulsion with controlled release fertilizer; hybrid teas often require more fertility than shrub types

Landscape Uses:

*borders--usually solely for roses, unless shrub types as backgrounds

*containers (especially miniature types) and raised beds (often facilitates culture)

*massing (especially in island beds in lawns, informal curved or formal rectangular)

*hedges or along walls, especially shrub and rugosa types

*fences and trellises (climbing types)


*remove dead canes, branches--late spring after see bud break

*shape--remove long branches where not desired, early spring or after bloom

*fall only if diseased or dead wood, or need to fit under overwintering covers; some prune in late fall or winter, but then if dieback have to reprune in spring, often lower; pruning too early in fall allows diseases to enter with slow or no wound healing

*for minimal strong branches to produce show flowers on modern hybrids

*cut back to just above a bud facing in direction new branch is desired

*remove overlapping, crossing canes

*remove older canes, about 1/3 each year

*choose cultivars for shape, habit, size rather than prune extensively to those desired


*allow to grow in natural form, generally not needed

*climbing types (many shrub types are long cane or arching, not truly climbing):

*train up wall or on trellis (2D or 3D shape), natural or in vase or other design

*train on network or crossing twine, one foot off ground, for maximum shoots

*wrap around trunks of spring flowering trees and allow to grow up through

Winter protection:

*choose hardy varieties, minimal to none needed; "modern" hybrids (see separate listing) are generally not hardy except in warm microclimates in Vermont

*if marginally hardy: styrofoam rose cones; mound one foot or more around base mulch or straw or similar organic if no rodents and small mammals, soil if rodents, apply either late in fall around Thanksgiving; some recommend fresh horse manure late in Fall; remove mulches when snow melts in Spring or early as possible

*climbing--if not hardy, remove from supports and lay on ground, covering as above

*key is to cover bud graft--lower swollen area on most roses--less hardy area


*traditionally by digging as many roots as possible, cutting tops back to 6-12" high

*soak ground (forced pressure from nozzle in ground) until plant pulls out readily


*aphids--insectidal soaps, rose sprays

*Japanese beetles--same as above, pick off, not traps

*cane borers--rose sprays, systemic insecticides

*rose chafer--as for aphids

*many more, susceptibility varies with species and even cultivar, more with modern hybrids than shrub types, modern types generally need intense spray schedule

*scout weekly if not daily

*choose resistant varieties to diseases


*powdery mildew--fungicide, Remedy

*black spot--specific fungicide

*leaf spots--fungicides

*viruses--prune infected parts, keep plants healthy

References (pests and diseases):

Pirone, Pascal P. Diseases and Pests of Ornamental Plants. 1978. 5th ed. Wiley

Olkowski, W., S. Daar and H. Olkowski. The Gardener's Guide to Common Sense Pest Control. 1995. Taunton Press.

Any products and references mentioned are for example only, and are not endorsed to the exclusion of any not mentioned.

Return to Perry's Perennial Consumer Page

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. Lawrence Forcier, Director, UVM Extension System, Burlington, Vermont. University of Vermont Extension System and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating, offer education and employment to everyone, without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status.

Last reviewed 7/3/00