Surviving Extreme Heat

Tips to keep your roses alive during extreme temperatures and climates


Roses are a very hardy plant. Established roses can withstand almost anything, through drought, scorching sun and even fire. However, it does not always mean they will thrive through these conditions, especially if the plant hasn’t been in your garden long or is planted in a pot.

In extreme temperatures and conditions, roses tend to enter survival mode by slowing down the production of new growth or flowers. This means the aim is to simply keep the plants alive until the conditions improve (hopefully late summer or autumn). This is really very easy with roses. Even if the foliage has burnt or stems have been lost, if the graft is still alive your rose will survive!

If you live in a hot, dry climate it is important that you water correctly right from planting. This will encourage the roots to grow deep into the ground where they are better protected from the external environment. With correct watering, after a number of years roses can become drought tolerant. Click here for our guide on watering roses.

 

Our tips to make it through survival mode:

  • Use grey water. Make sure you do not use detergents with high phosphate levels.
  • Water using a dripper system or the bucket method.
  • Do not use soaker hoses!
  • Avoid using hoses, watering cans, sprinklers, etc.
  • If water is heavily restricted, consider only watering your favourite or younger roses.
  • Water early in the evening. This gives the rose a time to absorb the moisture and distribute it to the growth areas before the scorching sun returns.
  • Use a good layer of mulch. We suggest sugar cane mulch or Whoflungdung. Click here for more information on mulching roses.
  • Do not use pebbles, stone or rock as mulch.
  • Do not use star droppers or metal poles to support standard roses. Try putting your hand against one in the heat of the day.
  • Avoid removing burnt foliage until conditions improve. Even though the foliage is dead, it is offering shade to the base of the plant.
  • Remember, roses can get sun burnt to. This will show as a black mark on the stem. This does not mean that the stem is dying. Blooms can also be sunburnt.
  • If your roses have been recently planted or you are concerned, offer the plant some type of shade during the heat of the day.
 
Additional tips for roses planted in the ground:
  •  Do not water daily. Keep water to twice a week for young plants and once a week for established roses.
  • Try and give each rose about 10 L (a bucket full) of water each time. If this is not possible, just do the best you can. Anything will help. But make sure you are providing enough for the water to reach the roots.
 
Additional tips for potted roses:
  • Water daily. Provide just enough so you can see the water draining out the bottom of the pot. You can use a hose or watering can for potted roses.
  • Do not position pots next to brick, tin, stone or any surface that radiates heat. This can cause further damage to your rose.
  • If possible, move the rose into a position which receives shade during the heat of the day. A pot trolley is a great addition to help in moving them.
 

Once the weather cools and conditions improve:

  • Give the impacted roses a prune. Remove burnt foliage and give the stems a good prune.
  • When cutting the stems, they should be white through the centre. If the stems show any browning in the centre, trim a little further until it is white.
  • Remember, if the graft is alive your rose will survive.
  • Water 2-3 times a week with a good deep soaking.
  • Give the rose a foliar feed to boost regrowth.  Try spraying them with Charlie Carp. If no leaves then water in beside the rose. Seasol is good as well.


If you are planting roses in a hot, dry climate it is also beneficial to select varieties that are better suited to those conditions. Click here to view roses that are ideal for hot, dry climates.