Rose Gardening in the Fall: The 4 Most Important Tasks of Autumn

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For me, rose gardening in the fall is a little bitter-sweet!

My blooms are smaller, leaves are showing signs of wear and tear and yet the rose gardening I do now will be crucial to the success of next years growth. Lets call it rose gardening insurance.

The last rose show is over, the days start getting shorter and the children are back in school but as rose growers we still have work to do�the four most important tasks of fall.


Stop fertilizing and start your clean up. From the beginning of September on, there is no need to fertilize your rose beds and pots because you do not want to encourage new shoots to develop as winter approaches. This is also the period of the highest incidence of mildew problems such as black-spot so it is time to pull away all leaves that show signs of disease and to rake the beds below to remove all traces of the black-spot or mildew spores. Yes, they overwinter so get rid of them with your garbage. Deadhead, keep the beds scrupulously clean and pick away at the damaged leaves.


Continue spraying if you want clean leaves and blooms into early fall but put away your spray equipment as your rose bushes begin to go into dormancy. Leaves are beginning to curl and drop, rose hips grow darker in color and no new shoots are developing. These are the signs that your rose bush is slowly moving into the dormant stage and the the "do not disturb 'till spring" signs are about to go up.

If you want to spray with dormancy spray, usually oil and sulfur, wait until December or January when your bushes are fully asleep, otherwise store your spray in a dry, safe place and take a close look at how successful you were this season and whether you could cut down or at least be more aware of the environment. Did your plan work?


You should have pruned your old growth roses or any that only bloom but once a year. Your climbers should be pruned to shape now and tied in to train them to grow in the right direction and shape for next season.

All other rose bushes are simply cut back to about waist high to stop the wind from causing them to whip around and break off, or worse still, loosen the crown of the bush.

Miniatures can be cleaned of wayward shoots or broken stems and given a short haircut.

Leave the serious pruning until spring, just be prepared for the winter storms.


Now is the time to plant your bare root roses in preparation for spring growth. It is also a very good time to move roses and to re-plant them.

Always plant with good, new soil with compost or manure added, but do not add nitrogen based fertilizers at this time of year. A cup of bone meal would help with root growth.

Bare root roses should be soaked in warm water for eight hours before planting to re-constitute them immediately following delivery to your home.

Don't forget to mound up all your rose bushes with soil to protect the crown from winter winds and the possibility of drying out. This protective mound will be slowly removed as the air temperatures warm up in the spring.

As you go into winter and your rose bushes go dormant remember that any rose gardening actions taken now will have a great effect on what happens in the spring.

Even in the Pacific North-West I have had the occasional rose bloom at Christmas and if you do it should be in a clean rose bed on a bush pruned and mounded up for winter protection.

Consider the four important tasks and your rose garden will thank you for it-- next year!

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David LeAche is the author of where you can find out all about rose growing, photographing roses, crafts with roses and using petals, hips and rose-water. FREE monthly newsletter and FREE e-book for subscribers.Check out Html//

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