Skip to Content

Summer Rose Care – How To Deadhead And Fertilize Roses

In order to keep your rose bushes looking beautiful all summer long, you need to keep two simple summer rose care tips in mind. Not only are these tips easy to perform, but they can make a big difference between roses that are thriving – and ones struggling to hang on. 

Rose plants are extremely heavy feeders, and not just because of their stunning and fragrant blooms. Even as they produce new foliage throughout the growing season they are using up resources from the soil and environment. 

By the middle of summer, your roses might start to suffer without proper care and maintenance. Not only will their blooms and foliage start diminishing, but they will also become more susceptible to disease and pests, too. 

Pink roses that have many spent blooms still on the foliage. Remove those blooms for the best summer care
Without a bit of care, your roses might start looking a little rough by the time mid-summer rolls around.

In addition, trouble can start to occur below the surface of the soil as well. Their root systems can weaken, making the roses more prone to issues as winter and freezing temperatures arrive. 

So, taking a few basic steps this summer to ensure your roses stay strong and healthy is key for not only this growing season, but for the next growing season as well! 

Summer Rose Care – Simple Tips For Success

Deadheading Blooms – Summer Rose Care

The term “deadheading” refers to the process of trimming or cutting the spent or dead blooms off of plants. Most all flowering plants, whether they are annuals or perennials, can benefit from this simple chore. 

Even though the spent blooms are dying, they are still using up valuable resources and energy from the plant and soil. When you remove the blooms, the plant can focus its energy on producing more shoots, stems, and blooms.

It is especially important for rose varieties that continually produce blooms throughout the summer months. At the top of the list for constant bloomers are climbing roses. But even everblooming roses (i.e., knock-out roses), which are actually considered to be “self-cleaning” still benefit from deadheading. 

How To Deadhead Roses

About once a week, do a quick check of your rose bushes and note any blooms that are starting to fade. Also, note any blooms that are deformed or might have succumbed to insect damage. 

A hang using pruners to deadhead a faded light pink rose.
Use a pair of garden pruners to clip off dying or fading rose blooms.

Using a pair of sharp scissors or garden shears, clip the stem of the spent bloom off. Take a few inches of the stem so that three or four of the leaf segments are included as well. 

Don’t just toss those spent clippings into the trash though. They are an excellent addition to your homemade compost pile!

For a more in-depth look at deadheading perennials and annuals, be sure to check out “How To Deadhead Annuals & Perennials – Have Healthier Plants & More Blooms!” There is an informational article as well as a podcast for more help on the subject.

Fertilizing Roses – Summer Rose Care

As mentioned earlier, roses are heavy feeders and will quickly deplete all of the nutrients and resources in the soil by the time mid-summer arrives. If the soil doesn’t get replenished, your plants will slow down growing and may stop producing blooms altogether. 

That’s where a dose of an all-natural fertilizer comes into play. How much fertilizer and what types you use will somewhat depend on the type of roses you are growing. 

For roses that are growing in pots or containers, they will need to be fertilized more often because they only have a small amount of growing medium and resources. Tea roses, Grandiflora, and miniatures roses will also need more frequent doses as well since they continually put on blooms. More mature shrubs and climbing roses, however, will require less fertilizer during the summer. 

Types of Fertilizers

There are many different types of commercial fertilizers on the market nowadays, but you can also use organic products like worm castings and compost to create your own fertilizer as well. 

Grandiflora roses should be fertilized frequently to help promote foliate health and constant blooming.

Worm castings are essentially the byproduct that worms create as they go through the soil. The worms consume all sorts of organic matter as they travel through the soil, and that matter gets broken down and excreted. The result is an all-natural, organic manure that is perfect for powering your roses.

Worm castings can be a great slow-release fertilizer when used as is, but they are even better when combined with compost. Worm castings tend to be a bit more on the alkaline side and roses prefer slightly acidic conditions, so adding compost can actually help counteract that. 

You can also create a 100% organic liquid fertilizer by mixing worm castings or compost tea with water. The liquid provides an instant boost to the roots of the roses. You can also apply it to the foliage of the rose plant as well for additional absorption.

All fertilizers will provide plants with a certain amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (shown as N-P-K on packages). However, roses also benefit from additional doses of manganese, calcium, sulfur, copper, and other micro-nutrients. For pre-made purchased fertilizers, look for ones that are specific for rose bushes.

How To Use The Fertilizers – Summer Rose Care

For worm castings, add about half a cup of castings to the soil around the base of each plant. Mix it into the soil and water well. Every time you go to water your plants or it rains, the roses will be hit with a nice, slow dose of fertilizer. 

Applying liquid fertilizer to the foliage as well at the base of the plant for great summer rose care.
When using compost tea or worm casting tea, you can spray the mixture on the foliage as well as at the roots.

You can apply compost in the same method as worm castings. Apply a few cups of all-natural compost to the base of each plant and work into the soil. The compost will leech into the soil every time there is moisture around. 

To create worm casting or compost tea, combine the solid ingredients with water in a 5-gallon bucket. Allow the mixture to sit for a few days, mixing once or twice daily. After a few days, strain the solids (adding them back to your compost pile), and use the liquid the next time you go to water your plants.

How & When To Apply – Summer Rose Care

Aim for using about one gallon of water per plant. Water plants at the roots as well as directly on the foliage for double the absorption power. It is best to do this in the early morning to keep the leaves from sun scald or burn.

For purchased liquid or granular fertilizers, be sure to read the label instructions. It is always best to go on the more conservative side when applying pre-made fertilizers. For best results, cut the dose in half. 

With all fertilizers, be sure to apply them early in the morning and not during the heat of the day. Do not add any fertilizers about eight weeks prior to your first frost date for your location. Any young, new growth after this point will be susceptible to damage from colder temps and frost.  

Additional Bonus Tips – Summer Rose Care

Be sure to water roses deeply during overly dry spells during the summer months. Avoid watering rose bushes overhead since having water in the blooms and on the foliage can cause them to be more susceptible to diseases. 

black spot on a rose bush plant
Black spot is a common issue with rose. It can affect their ability to produce blooms during the summer months.

Water deeply early in the morning. Apply enough so that the water can reach about a foot down around plants. Adding mulch can be a great way to help retain moisture as well as to help keep weeds at bay.  

Just like you deadhead spent blooms, you can also lightly prune rose bushes during the summer months as well. Not only will this help to keep them tidy, but it will also keep the plant healthier too. 

Roses can become victims of powdery mildew, black spot, and rust. You can remove individual leaves, or prune entire stems. Clip the shoots and stems that are showing signs of damage or that have simply started to get a little unruly.   

And, as with any plant, be on the lookout for pests and insects. You can treat and eliminate most infestations if caught in the early stages.

By following these few simple rose care tips, your roses will be stunning and blooming strong all summer long!

Follow Our Facebook Page For Even More Great Tips! Simple Garden Life Facebook Page

Simple Garden Life is a website dedicated to keeping gardening fun, simple and enjoyable! We publish two new articles each week along with a new garden podcast episode every two weeks. This article may contain affiliate links.