Water: Roses require more water than most other landscape plantings, especially during the first year as the plant is getting its roots established. The best way to water your roses is with drip irrigation. It concentrates the water at the root zone where it is needed, and keeps the foliage dry to minimize disease problems. A good, thick layer of organic mulch will help conserve moisture, reduce weeds, and encourage healthy root growth. As the mulch breaks down, it will also add organic matter to the soil.
Roses are usually grouped into one of two broad categories: old roses and modern roses. Old roses are those varieties discovered or developed prior to the introduction of the hybrid tea rose in 1867. But like everything else in the world of roses, when it comes to determining how a particular rose should be classified, it’s not always crystal clear.
Water. Irrigate roses deeply but infrequently, applying water directly to soil using soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Water needs vary based on weather and soil, so check soil with your finger. Water often enough to create consistently moist soil – not overly wet, not bone-dry. To prevent diseases, keep foliage dry, especially if you must water late in the day.
Tracing the history of a particular rose can be a fascinating adventure, but it is hardly an exact science. The old roses have cross-bred so many times, and so many varieties have been lost to time, that it is often impossible to uncover the exact parentage. If you are one of the many who become possessed by roses, you may eventually find it important to know the difference between a gallica and a Bourbon. But until that point, our advice is not to worry about it. The important thing is to select a rose that you find beautiful, and that suits your garden.
Protect the roses over the winter. Roses that are left tall may be damaged by heavy winds and frosts during the winter. Trim the canes down to 2 feet (0.6 m). Tie them together with twine, to help protect them from inclement weather. Heap a mound of compost around the base of the bush, then top it with a layer of straw. When the weather warms to above 51 degrees, remove the compost mound.
NOTE: During my move, I had cut several rose branches and placed them in a grocery paper bag in my garage--only to have forgotten to bring them home for a week. The branches had been in a broiling hot enclosed garage without water, and needless to say, they looked pretty dried out to a crisp. But I didn't want to just toss them out yet (these were the climbing Charisma roses), so I got an empty plastic detergent tub and completely immersed the stems for 2 weeks (no changing water). Then I stuck them into soil and hoped for the best. Well, I got about a 50% survival rate.
Northern gardeners need to know exactly what zone a rose is hardy to. Southern gardeners must also watch to see what zones are recommended for each particular variety, as some roses perform very poorly in hot and/or humid weather. Read the catalogs carefully and, if possible, purchase your roses from a local or regional grower. They will be able to advise you from experience about how a particular variety will perform in your area.