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The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Roses – Part Two

The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Roses – Part Two

By Kristina Howley, Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®

Roses have a reputation for being difficult to care for, but what if you could choose roses that are easier to grow and enjoy? It’s easy if you select roses that have good disease resistance, long bloom times, and a self-cleaning nature. From pests to pruning, here is Part Two of our guide to help you garden with confidence and get the most out of your garden roses.

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Oso Easy Italian Ice® Rose - My Proven Winners ColorChoices (


Unfortunately, we haven’t found a plant that is completely resistant to many of our common garden nemeses. It’s important to keep an eye on your roses so if a problem occurs you can get a jump on it early, before it has a chance to get out of hand! If a bothersome bug happens to stop by, this is the best advice we have to get you through:

Aphids: Spray them off with a strong stream of water from the hose or, if the infestation is very bad, completely remove the affected stem.

Japanese beetles: We have a comprehensive guide on dealing with these particularly pesky insects.

Sawfly (also called rose slugs): If you’re seeing holes in the leaves, turn each of them over and check for the telltale small larvae. You’ll really have to search for them at first! They blend into the foliage easily because they are the same color as the leaves they’re eating. Destroy them immediately. Continue checking every day until you see new growth that’s free from holes. Be sure to check again early the next spring, as a few of them might have fallen off and lived to bite another day.


One of the best tools against disease is prevention. Careful planting and pruning can remove the opportunity for disease to strike! We select roses that have superior disease resistance, so if it looks like your rose is suffering from a disease, please reach out via Feedback with some photos and we can help you navigate your particular situation.

Rose rosette: Sadly there aren’t any known roses that have resistance to this deadly disease. The only option is removal and proper disposal. Learn more about it in this article.

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Oso Easy Double Pink Landscape Rose



Get to this task in early spring, just before the plant begins to break dormancy. The month varies depending on how cold your climate is, so let the rose itself be your guide. Once you see its buds start to swell, you can get out the pruners.


  • Start by removing any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. If it looks like a branch has a disease, clean your pruner blades with a disinfectant between each cut. (Wiping them off with an isopropyl alcohol soaked rag or dipping them in a bucket filled with disinfectant will do the trick.)
  • Next, look for any branches that are obviously spindly and weak, or those that rub against others. Remove these.
  • Check that the center of the plant is open and able to get good airflow. Remove a few branches all the way back to help improve openness if necessary.
  • Reduce the height and width by one third. While you’re snipping, consider the overall appearance and try to give the top a rounded shape. This promotes even growth and an even display of blooms.
  • Look for big, healthy buds. The bigger the bud that you cut back to, the thicker and more vigorous the growth coming from it will be. In fact, this is one of the main reasons for pruning roses regularly.
  • Get a closer look at pruning shrubs in the Proven Winners Pruning Demystified article.

Winter care

All of our roses are grown on their own roots, so unlike a grafted plant, they don’t require a complicated protection plan for the winter. A layer of mulch and a thorough watering before the ground freezes will do in most instances.

If deer get your garden down by literally eating it, consider protecting your rose by securing burlap or a cage around it.

Toxic or Dangerous?

Roses do not have any naturally occurring toxic chemicals in their stems, leaves, and roots, but we still don’t recommend consuming a plant unless it is explicitly labeled as edible. It’s also important to note that roses have thorns (some more than others) which can result in injury to pets and humans alike. So if you have dogs or kids running around, try to plant your rose away from high traffic areas.

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Oso Easy Lemon Zest Rose

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I grow roses in containers?

Yes! It’s just like growing any other shrub in a container, with one exception. Consider if the thorns will be an inconvenience or a hazard where your rose will be placed. Check out our guide to growing shrubs in containers.

Do I need to use a rose cone or mulch in winter?

You don’t need to use rose cones for Proven Winners roses. Our roses grow from their own roots, so unlike grafted roses, there isn’t the same level of concern that they’ll be damaged by harsh winters. As for mulch, it’s a good idea to put down a 2-3”/5-7cm layer (but mounding is not needed). This helps the soil to retain moisture and protects the roots during the winter.

What is deadheading?

Deadheading is the process of cutting off flowers that are past their prime. You can tell a rose flower is declining when the petals start to loosen and fall off.

How do I deadhead?

Although Proven Winners roses don’t need to be deadheaded to rebloom, you may want to go over your plant to give it a tidier appearance. To do this, you’ll follow the stem of the spent bloom down to the first set of five leaves. Cut in a diagonal about 1/4-1/8” or .635-.3175cm above the leaf.

Why do my roses have berries?

These are rose hips! These are the fruit that roses produce and contain the seeds. They offer beautiful winter interest and can be used in cut flower arrangements.

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At Last® Rose - My Proven Winners ColorChoices (

My rose is blooming a different color than it should. What’s going on?

The color of certain roses can be strongly influenced by temperature. This may mean that their color becomes brighter and more intense in cooler weather, or it could mean the flower color is totally different. At Last® is one such rose: buds set during cold weather will open to flowers with pink tones, and buds set in very hot weather will open to yellow tones, instead of the more standard apricot color. This is a temporary change, and the plant will flower normally when temperatures even out.

Still have questions? You can contact Proven Winners with your gardening questions and one of our horticulturists will get back to you. Please include your zip/postal code and a photo if possible.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

Now is the time to shop for annuals that will go the distance all summer. Suntory Flowers has a portfolio of gorgeous varieties that thrive in the heat. To learn more, click here for an interesting article.

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