Lessons in Watering Roses

In the grand scheme of gardening, I think the big challenge for me is watering the roses. In the past I’ve inadvertently killed rose bushes because of over-watering (or under-watering). I now know this because a tell tale sign of over-watering is the sudden appearance of yellow leaves. But I’m learning the basics now, the more I work with the current rose bushes in the garden.

“Over The Moon” Hybrid Tea Rose


I have two areas in the garden where roses are growing. The first area is nestled between a palm tree and a crape myrtle tree. And even though there is quite a bit of shade in this area because of the two trees, the roses still get much morning and afternoon sunlight. In essence, this might be an ideal spot for roses, as I think it gets 3 hours of morning sunlight and 3 hours of afternoon sunlight (roses require a minimum of 6 hours of sun).

The second area gets sunlight for most of the day. Which brings me to the part about watering. What I’m noticing is that the two areas have different watering needs. And I’m learning the second area needs more water because it receives more sunlight. Plus, the fact that the three rose bushes in that area are the newest additions to the garden, more frequent watering is required for these plants in order to get them “established” in the garden.

June 2011:  Roses in the Backyard

But actually, the more I read about watering roses in books and on the web, for newly planted roses there must be more care in watering, until they get “established”. Newly planted roses actually need to be watered almost every day. But, how to avoid over-watering them and causing those dreaded yellow leaves to appear?

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with slow, drip irrigation and I think I might’ve stumbled upon the perfect balance as far as watering goes.

The key is to water the rose bush with a garden hose and let the water drip at the base of the plant, or within the basin. I’ll let the water drip for a good hour or two. The shouldn’t be any risk in drowning the plant by over-watering, since the low volume of water allows the plant to drink up the water as it is slowly being available. This method also lets the water penetrate deeper into the soil, and helping the plant to develop deep roots, which will help in times of drought and getting the plant established.

Once established, roses can be watered infrequently but still needing 1-2 inches of water a week. Again, newly planted roses should be watered every day, but with this slow drip method it should provide ample water for the plant without getting too much water at one time.

Anyway, I’ll try to post more thoughts on watering roses, as I become more of an expert. But for now I still consider myself a novice rose gardener. Hopely, I plan to install a drip irrigation system that is customized for my garden and which will incorporate this slow watering method with a built-in timer, to make things a lot easier. So far, I’ve been watering the roses manually.



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and Amazon.com.

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