Rose care: everything you need to know from fertilising to pruning


I am currently studying agricultural and food economics. As a keen hobby gardener, plants take up most of my free time. A few years ago, I got especially interested in herbs, which is why I completed my studies to become a certified herbalist in 2018.

Favourite fruit: apples, cherries
Favourite vegetables: potatoes, fennel

Only those who take optimal care of their roses will be rewarded with beautiful flowers. Here you will learn everything you need to know about rose care – from pruning to fertilising.

Rose bush being pruned with secateurs
Roses want to be cared for all year round [Photo: OlgaPonomarenko/]

Roses (Rosa) are a must-have in any garden and balcony because the pretty flowers are truly striking in summer. But only a healthy rose, which has been well looked-after, will also reward you with abundant flowering. In addition to regular watering and fertilising, the correct pruning of roses is especially crucial for successful cultivation. In areas with harsh climates, you should also use frost-hardy varieties and, if necessary, take special protective measures to ensure that your rose will survive the winter well. If you follow a few basic rules when caring for your rose, it will certainly thrive and unfold its full flowering glory.

We explain below how to properly water, fertilise and prune your roses. In addition, we have once again summarised the main points about overwintering roses and caring for roses in pots.

Rose care: watering

Roses like it neither too dry nor too wet. Therefore, it is best to choose a sunny, airy place for your precious plant so that the moisture does not accumulate and to prevent the development of fungal diseases. It is also best to water your rose early in the morning, taking care not to wet the upper parts of the plant with water if possible. Young plants in particular should be watered regularly. The soil of older plants should always be moist. We explain in our special article what else to consider when watering roses.

Watering a rose bush using watering can
Roses need sufficient water – without sinking into waterlogging [Photo: pryzmat/]

Pruning roses

Basic pruning is best done in the spring (March/April) before new shoots appear on roses. The severity of pruning in this case depends mainly on the growth habit of the roses. Weak-growing bedding roses, for example, should be cut back to three healthy shoots with three eyes. For strong-growing bedding roses, you can leave about five shoots with five buds each. Minor pruning to remove wilted flowers and broken shoots can also be done on roses during the growing season. It is also useful to remove diseased parts of the plant to prevent the spread of fungal diseases. General rules for pruning roses as well as detailed instructions for pruning climbing roses, high-stem roses and more can be found in our special article.

Fertilising roses

Roses are among the heavy feeders, so regular fertilisation is essential. An initial application of fertiliser in spring (March/April) with compost or a slow-release fertiliser such as our Plantura Rose Food, specially developed for roses, will help the plant with its new growth. A second fertilisation can then be applied at the beginning of the flowering phase at the end of May. More frequent flowering rose varieties receive a final fertilisation during the main flowering period in early July. Later in the year, however, you should not resort to fertiliser so that the newly formed shoots mature until winter. Ideally, use a fertiliser with an organic long-term effect for your roses. This is slowly decomposed and thus also provides your rose with sufficient nutrients in the long term. We explain again in detail in our special article how best to fertilise your roses.

Rose Food, 1.5kg
Rose Food, 1.5kg
  • For beautifully flowering roses in pots & flower beds
  • Prevents common rose diseases & ensures healthy growth
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Overwintering roses

In order for your rose to survive the winter well, there are some protective measures to take. However, it is best to apply winter protection only when a frost period is forecast. Also, remove old flowerheads and leaves beforehand. The foliage on the ground should also be removed. Then, pile the soil about 20 cm high and put decorative greenery between the shoots. For insulation of tall roses, you can also find special garden fleece, jute bags and bamboo mats. You can find detailed instructions in our dedicated article to ensure that nothing goes wrong when overwintering your roses.

Caring for roses in pots

Smaller roses with a compact growth can be wonderfully cultivated in a pot on the balcony or terrace. Compared to exposed specimens, potted roses require a relatively large amount of water. When the substrate has dried out on the surface, it is high time to water again. To avoid waterlogging, it is best to add a drainage layer of clay shards or expanded clay when planting. For adequate nutrient supply, it is best to give your rose a liquid fertiliser with the watering water every two weeks. If you prefer to use a fertiliser with a long-term effect, two to three fertiliser applications per year are sufficient.

Rose plant seedlings in pots
Small roses can also be cultivated in pots on the balcony or terrace [Photo: Liga Petersone/]

In winter, the roots need special protection in particular. Therefore, it is best to place the pot on a polystyrene plate to avoid direct contact with the ground and wrap it with a thick layer of insulating material. If no permafrost is expected, your potted rose can overwinter just fine in a sheltered spot outdoors. We have compiled further tips on the subject of “roses in pots” for you here.

If you have read through this article, you are already well-prepared and can support your rose in its development with optimal care. If you still have not had enough, you can find out exactly how best to care for climbing roses here.

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