Getting Roses Ready for Spring


Snowdrops push their way through the soil as one of the first signs of spring. Photo courtesy RHS.

After a cold, dark winter is there anything as heartwarming as the early signs of spring? Here in Vermont, aside from the tiny Snowdrop bulbs breaking through the ground, one of the first signs of spring is the arrival of the red-winged blackbirds as their sounds fill the air with joyous sounds.  Then we begin to see those bare trees bud up and know that in no time, the crab apples and cherry trees will be in full  glorious bloom.

trees for garden structure

Felix Magnolia blooms in early spring in warmer climates.

This is all quite wonderful, but one sign really reminds us that warmer weather is on its way, and that’s seeing the first signs of life on your roses. Of course this happens at different times depending on where you garden. The deeper the Winter cold, the later we’ll begin to see signs of life on our roses, especially this year with our weeks of sub-zero temps.  Regardless of when your roses start to wake, these tips will help you bring on a fabulous summer-long display.

Here are 3 easy steps to get your roses ready for summer . . .

1.   There are plenty of easy care rose options available today – from low growing carpet roses to more upright shrub type roses.  It’s important to select the right rose in the first place; this quick video –  Finding the Right Rose for the Right Place  from Growing Wisdom – will be  helpful in doing this. Regardless of whether you want an upright rose or one like Flower Carpet roses that are long-blooming from early spring through early frost, pick a rose that’s super easy to grow so you don’t have to fuss with fancy pruning or spraying to deal with insects and black spot.

2.  Cut back your roses in early spring to create a full plant for the rest of the summer. With easy care roses like Flower Carpet, all you need to do is take your shears or hedge clippers and cut back each plant by about two-thirds.  This short pruning video from Marianne Binetti shows you how to that quickly and easily.

3.   You’ll also want to do a quick clean up of the area around your roses as shown in Dave Epstein’s helpful video on Caring for your Flower Carpet roses in Spring.  After cutting back and cleaning up, all you’ll need to do is add a handful of fertilizer, add a bit of mulch to hold the moisture in and the weeds out and you’re all set!

With easy-care roses like Flower Carpet and some of the other roses on the market today, it’s really that simple.  Give them a good cut back in the spring to create a strong flowering framework, then with a few quick extras – weeding, feeding & mulching – you’ll have a garden full of blooms all summer long.


carpet rose

“Next Generation” Flower Carpet Scarlet tumbles over a low wall.

Getting roses ready for spring

Flower Carpet Coral provides summer-long color and its blooms get even more brilliant after the first frost!


carpet roses

Fragrant Flower Carpet Amber is paired with “hens and chicks” sedum in a small entryway garden.



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2 Responses to Getting Roses Ready for Spring

  1. Graciebelle February 3, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    I just learned that a good way to tell whether the branches were dead or not was to scratch them lightly to see if there’s any green under the outer layer. If not, the stem and dead and can be cut back low to the ground.

  2. Your Easy Garden Team February 3, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    Hi Graciebelle Thanks for this tip. With Flower Carpets, regardless of what’s still alive, it’s best to cut them back by at least 2/3’s just to allow lots of full, bushy growth for optimal blooms all summer.

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