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Watering Roses

Roses within their first year, or those that have been transplanted, need increased water supply due to their small root systems.   With limited roots, the rose will not be able to absorb the required moisture and as roses are 75% water like the rest of us, they will not grow well. This is when we begin to see die back occurring (the blackening of the tips of the stems) and wilting leaves as the plant begins to shut down the areas it does not require for survival, keeping the core of the plant alive.
Roses need to be watered in a way that encourages their roots to grow deep into the soil, this will help protect the plant from the extreme heat in summer due to the insulation that the soil provides.  Watering lightly but often will only encourage the roots to stay around the surface of the soil, this will mean they are affected by even the smallest temperature variation. Providing the rose with a deep soaking will encourage the roots to grow down into the soil.
IMPORTANT: Roses require 10 litres of water in one session - each plant. In normal conditions this will have to be done twice a week, spaced evenly. If the weather is extreme or you are in the hotter states then three times a week is recommended. 

Dripper systems:

We recommend using a dripper system in rose beds as this is the most efficient and economical way to deliver the required water.  It puts a single drop of water in one spot and pushes it down deep into the soil.  Dripper systems also have the added bonus of a timer which can be installed, this makes it all that much easier especially if you live a busy life and struggle to find time to water or are away from your property for periods of time.

It is important to ensure that your dripper system is providing your roses with enough water. Test one of the drippers by placing a 10L bucket under one of the drippers. Turn the drippers on and watch how quickly it takes for the bucket to fill. This will provide you with the amount of time you should have the dripper system on for each watering. For example, if it takes an hour to fill the bucket then your dripper system needs to be turned on for one hour at a time.

Keep in mind that dripper systems can easily become blocked. It is important to regularly check each dripper.

For roses not on a dripper system:

If you are unable to install a dripper system - that's ok too. Just make sure you have made a well around the plant so any water given will not run off to another part of the garden. Fill the well with water and then walk away to water other plants. When the water has soaked into the soil then fill the well again. This will have to be done three to four times in a session to give the correct amount of water.

Another method:

  1.  Place 3 to 4 small holes in the bottom of a bucket that holds approximately 10L of water.
  2.  Fill with plain water and, moving aside any mulch, place directly next to your rose with the bottom touching the soil.
  3.  Allow to completely drain.
  4. This provides the rose with a good deep soaking, reaching the very bottom of the root system.
This method is also good for those roses that seem to be struggling during the hot weather or newly planted roses.  

DO NOT water with a sprinkler or a soaker hose
as the water does not soak into the soil enough to reach the roots.  

Potted Roses:

Caring for roses in pots can be difficult. The pot does not have any protection from the heat and moisture evaporates very quickly.  Roses can quickly show the effects of heat with drooping stems and/or brown crispy leaves.
Always use potting mix in a pot - never soil. Potting mix is made for pots, whereas soil can compress ensuring the roots have a hard time growing.
Watering for pots should be done each day.
Keep the potting mix moist.  If allowed to dry out potting mix can become hydrophobic, which means the water is actually repelled from the mixture allowing it to run straight through the pot without watering the plant. If this happens please place the pot into a bucket or tray of water and keep it there for an hour. It will allow the mix to become moist again, although it will always have less water retention - wait for winter and re-pot using fresh potting mix.
Mulch around the top of the pot to help protect from the heat and retain water.


Mulch is recommended as not only a way to keep the heat out of the soil but also to keep the moisture in, just make sure the drippers are under the mulch as it can soak up a lot of water before it gets to the soil.  Keep to 5cm of mulch around the rose but not up to the stem as it can cause collar rot if placed too close. Click here for more information on mulching rose gardens.