We want you to have beautiful roses. Roses that thrive make everyone happy. Remember there is not just one method of caring for roses. There are several. What works best for one rose owner, may not work as well for another. When it comes to roses, there are some basics and there are some tricks. Most of all, a little patience and TLC are key to beautiful roses.

In this guide, I am going to refer to conventional(C) and organic(O) methods. Neither is right or wrong. It is just nice to have choices. In my opinion, a mix of the two is best for overall rose care.

Let’s start from the very beginning…


Planting Products (C): Van Wilgen’s Jump Start + Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix = The combination of these two products is perfect for planting roses.

Planting Products (O): Van Wilgen’s Root Boost + Soilution Compost = Combining these two organic powerhouses will start your roses off right.

Note: If soil is compact, add Gypsum or Greensand to loosen the soil up.

Note: If soil is sandy, add extra compost to help bind it.

WATERING NEWLY PLANTED ROSES: Watering is key to a successful establishment.

Note: Follow the Rule of 3 = Water 3X’s per week for the first 3 weeks.

Note: Avoid overhead irrigation. Watering roses at a slow trickle or using a soaker hose at the base of the plant will establish a deeper root system and reduce disease.

Note: After the first 3 weeks of watering, switch to 1X per week = 2 inches H2O per week is ideal.


Fertilization Products (C): Van Wilgen’s All-Purpose Slow Release Fertilizer = Use every 2 months, March – September

Note: Bayer’s All-in-One Rose & Flower Care not only provides disease & insect control but provides light fertilization too. It should be used in conjunction with fertilizer & applied every 6 weeks, April-September.

Fertilization Products (O): Espoma’s Rose-Tone = Use 1X per month, March – September

Note: Could supplement with foliar sprays of Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed or Root Boost every 2 weeks through September. They will never burn and will provide extra nutrients for these heavy feeders.

Note: A little trick is to use Monterey’s Epsom Salts 2X per year. 1X in the spring and again in early summer. The magnesium pushes extra root growth.


Mulching Products (C): Any type of mulch from Pine Bark to Cedar would be fine for mulching roses. It depends on what you like the look of. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch around roses to keep moisture in and keep weeds at bay. Keep mulch 3 inches from the canes of the rose.

Mulching Products (O): Sweet Peet is an excellent mulch for roses. The aged horse manure and moisture retention provided by Sweet Peet really keeps roses healthy. Apply Sweet Peet at 1 inch deep. 3 inches of Sweet Peet will hold too much water.

COMMON DISEASES ON ROSES = Black Spot, Powdery Mildew, Botrytis, Canker, Rust:

*Black Spot: black fringed spots, yellow halo, leaf yellowing, leaf drop, purplish blotches on canes, blistered blotches on canes

*Powdery Mildew: begin as chlorotic or red patches on leaves; turn to white, powdery growth on buds, canes, leaves; distorting, twisting & curling of leaves, shoots, & buds; buds fail to open

*Botrytis Blight: grayish, brown fuzzy growth on canes, buds, flowers; tan flecks/patches on flower buds & petals; sunken, tannish cankers on canes

*Canker: canes only; begin small, yellow to dark-red spots; grow larger to brown with reddish-brown centers; distinctly dark from healthy, green tissue; wilting & death beyond the cane

*Rust: infects all green parts; small, orange pustules; premature defoliation;

Disease Control Products (C): Daconil, Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, Bayer 3-in-1Insect, Disease, & Mite Control

Note: Begin applications with Bayer All-in-One Rose in April. Apply 1X per month April – September

Note: Begin applications with Daconil in May. Apply 1X every 2 weeks as needed.

Disease Control Products (O): Neem, Rose RX 3-in-1, Copper, Garden Fungicide (Sulfur), Serenade

Note: Begin Control with Neem/Rose RX 3-in-1 in early spring. It works well as a preventative but not as a curative.

Note: Begin use of organic fungicides before the disease starts. Begin in May. They may be applied 1X per week.

COMMON INSECTS ON ROSES = Rose Sawfly, Japanese Beetle, Aphids, Mites, Thrips:

*Rose Sawfly: aka Rose Slug, small, green with orange head, looks like a caterpillar but it is not, turns rose leaves into a brown windowpane

*Japanese Beetles: brownish/green metallic color, feeds in clumps, skeletonizes leaves, eats buds and flowers leaving a ragged appearance

*Aphid: pear-shaped, small, green to red to gray, sucks juices out plant distorting & curling leaves and new growth, clusters on buds and new shoots

*Thrips: tiny, yellowish-brown, scrape the surface of leaves and flowers, cause stippled yellowing of leaves and browning edges of flower petals

*Mites: nearly imperceptible, 8-legged, sucking insects, whitish-yellow stippling on leaves, light webbing if the infestation is heavy enough

*Rose Scale: white to gray waxy bump is adult, sucking insect, girdles canes

Insect Control Products (C): Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care, Bayer Dual-Action Rose & Flower Care, Bayer 3-in-1 Insect, Disease, & Mite Control

Note: If you begin systemic treatments with Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care in the spring, you may not have any serious insect problems. The product lasts in the rose, providing a full month of insect control. Foliar sprays provide excellent insect control but may need to be applied 1 to 2X’s per week.

Insect Control Products (O): Safer Insect Killing Soap, End-All, Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, Rose RX 3-in-1, Neem, Japanese Beetle Killer

Note: Organic insect controls can be very effective but may need to be applied more often than conventional insect controls. They must make contact with the insect to provide good control.

Side Note: Don’t forget about Deer Control. The earlier you begin applying repellents, the less likely they are to start their feeding habit on your roses!

Side Note: Don’t forget about Vole control if they are an issue in your yard. Planting with Vole Bloc and using Vole repellants may be necessary.

Side Note: Try Triple-Phosphate for an extra bloom burst. A little goes a long way!


Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!