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Growing roses

In their growth stage, roses require care and attention to thrive and remain healthy plants. Rosebushes can’t be planted and forgotten. They need rose food every three weeks. They need to be groomed weekly. And they need to be protected from insects and diseases. These pests love to munch on their leaves and stems or make your beautiful roses their home.

Grant Park Rose Garden
Grant Park Rose Garden
Photo by Elaine C. Shigley

While your roses are growing, keep them spruced up by removing dead, damaged or diseased wood. Remove suckers that grow from the rootstock. These suckers or shoots appear from below the soil line. They grow from the stock your bush was grafted onto. Dig down a bit to remove these suckers from their point of origin. If you want the rosehips, don’t deadhead spent blossoms. Otherwise, cut off finished blossoms before the petals fall.

In autumn, trim branches to 6-12 inches. If you forget, wait until spring to trim the branches. Roses are dormant in winter so don’t prune them in cold, frosty weather. In Chicago, plan to complete the pruning by November or wait until spring.

Strong, healthy roses easily resist attack by insect pests unless they are overrun with an infestation. Help your roses fight pests by keeping them groomed. If there is an infestation, spray them with environmentally safe insecticides after periods of rain end. Keep your roses and rosebeds neat and clean of debris to avoid diseases. If your roses become diseased, follow rainy periods with sprays designed to kill rosebush diseases.

The names of insects that harm rosebushes are aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, scale insects, caterpillars, sawfly larvae, cane borers, Japanese beetles, rose stem girders, trips, rose chafers, rose midges, rose slugs and leaf cutting bees. Common diseases that attack roses are blackspot, rust, powdery mildew, dieback canker crown gall, viruses and downy mildew.