Established roses need watering once per week with approximately 4 gallons in the growing season but newly planted roses will need more care and attention…
You will need to water newly planted or transplanted roses two or three times per week for the first four weeks. Water Roses slowly making sure the water is infiltrating the soil and not running off the surface. Adding a generous mulch of leaf mould or horse manure will help retain moisture and keep your rose hydrated after planting.
Water your newly planted rose with at least 4 gallons straight after planting and persist with a regiment of 4 gallons two or if the conditions are hot, dry or windy 2-3 times per week.
Avoid watering on to the leaves; instead water around the base of the plant to prevent common pests and diseases such as powdery mildew that tend to thrive in moist or humid conditions.
After about four weeks the rose roots should be more established and able to draw up moisture from the soil more effectively, at which point you can revert to the ‘soak and dry’ cycle of watering once a week that suits roses the best.
If there has been more then 1 inch of rain during the week then established roses shouldn’t need watering however, newly planted roses will still need watering twice per week for 4 weeks until they become established regardless of the rainfall.
Retain Water by Adding Mulch Around the Rose Bush
Adding a layer of mulch immediately after planting is a good way to ensure your rose stays well hydrated and healthy.
Mulch is beneficial for newly planted roses for a number of reasons:
- Mulch has is able to hold moisture better then most soils which stops the soil from drying out before the roots have had chance to draw up moisture.
- A layer of mulch will help keep the roots of the rose cool in the summer.
- As mulch decays it stimulates the beneficial ecology of the soil and increases the soils fertility.
- Mulch improves the soil structure so that water infiltrates more effectively towards the roots of your rose (rather then simply running off the surface).
The best type of mulch for newly planted roses is leaf mould or well rotted horse manure as both of these material are exceptional for retaining water and over time improving the soil structure so that water can easily infiltrate the soil and reach the roots.
They will also encourage worm activity create channels for drainage and create space in the soil for the newly planted rose to grow and establish its roots thus increase the roses stability and resilience to drought.
Apply a 2 inch layer around the base of your rose as soon as you can after planting. Be mindful to keep at least a 3 inch gap around the central rose canes as the wood that is above ground is less tolerant of being exposed to moist material for long periods.
A mulch application will also suppress weeds and soften the soil texture, so when weeds do appear they are much easier to hoe or dig out.
When Roses Need More Watering
There are several scenarios which will require you to water your rose more often the two times a week for a newly planted rose or the once a week watering schedule for a rose that has had 4 weeks in the ground for the roots to establish.
- If the soil is sandy in texture and very fine then water will infiltrate too quickly for the roots of the rose to draw up enough moisture
- If the weather has been particularly windy or your rose is fairly exposed, without shelter then this will sap water from the leaves and increase transpiration that can dry out and wilt your rose.
- If there has been several days of intense prolonged heat
- If the soil is baked hard by the sun and rain or water from the hose runs off the impermeable surface or down into cracks without properly soaking into the soil and reaching the roses roots.
Watering Newly Planted Roses in Hot or Windy Weather
If the weather has been particularly dry, hot or windy then watering your rose first thing in the morning, twice in the week with 4 gallons of water is the correct course of action.
Water around the base of the rose early in the morning as the evaporation rate will be lower and the rose will be charged with water before the intense hot day ahead.
Do not be tempted to water your roses little and often several times throughout the week this is simply a watering routine roses do not like.
Roses like a good soak but they like their roots to be relatively dry between periods of watering otherwise overexposure of persistently wet soil to roots can lead to the disease root rot which will kill the rose.
This is why roses value good soil structure and drainage, so that excess water is able to drain away from the roots and the plant stays healthy.
Windy weather dries moisture from rose leaves, canes and the soil much quicker then still days so if your rose is in an exposed area, you will need to treat it as if the weather is particularly dry. (4 gallons of water twice a week).
I would recommend you to shelter the rose from windy with a natural wind break, such as conifers or any other plant that is strong and densely vegetated so it is able to deflect the worse of the wind.
If you live in a windy or coastal area, Regosa roses are the best choice as not only able to cope with wind but also tolerant of salt spray in the air. They are also exceptionally drought tolerant too, so a great variety for first time rose growers.
For the full guide, please check out my article on how to care for roses in windy areas.
Watering Roses in Sandy Soil
Whilst rose bushes need good drainage, sandy, fine textured soils that are overly porous and can cause water to drain away too quickly before the roots have had chance to draw upon the moisture.
In these conditions you may need to soak your roses twice a week routinely during the growing season. I have an article that lays out the game plan for planting roses in sandy soils which you can read here.
Roses in sandy soil need extra attention in hot weather so look for signs of wilting or heat stress (leaves turning yellow/curling up/drooping).
They will also need a more consistent mulching regime. By mulching with plenty of organic material (ideally leaf mould or well rotted manure for sandy soils) you can change the structure and the properties of the soil so that it is much more favourable for roses.
Organic material has a much greater capacity to hold more water then sandy soil so the roots can access moisture when they need to.
The mulch will decay and be pulled underground by worms, so that over time the profile of the soil is changed and the soil will be much more fertile as the worm casts concentrate the nutrients of organic material into a form that is easily absorbed by the roots of the rose bush.
Water Roses When the Soil is baked Hard
This is a common problem that affects nearly all rose growers when the summer sun is at its most intense.
Roses love 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day, however this level of light and heat can bake the soils into a hard impenetrable surface that water cannot soak into.
In these conditions the water often runs off the surface or runs into cracks in the soil which is unlikely to reach the roots.
Clay soils are particularly susceptible to baking hard and cracking. To remedy this you will need to add a mid summer mulch to negate the drying affect of the sun.
Mulch will help to keep the underlying soil much cooler and retain much more moisture. As it decays the structure of the surface of the soil will improve and water will be far more likely to soak in rather then run off.
It is also important to be mindful of pouring the water (or discharging the hose) slowly. Watering the soil fast will only increase surface run off so that the water is diverted elsewhere.
A good long slow soak can soften the soil over time and improve its texture. Water is far more likely to infiltrate and reach the roots through soil that is softer, rather then cracked hard soil, so it pays to be patient when you are watering.
I like to use a soaker hose when the soil is hard as it requires far more water to soften the soil and give it a good soak before it reaches the roots, which saves you refilling the watering can so frequently.
Watering New Roses in Clay Soils
Watering roses in soil with a high amount of clay can be problematic as not only can it bake hard in summer, but it can also hold onto water for much longer then other soil types.
With newly planted roses in clay soil you will have to be more diligent in monitoring the moisture of the soil. If water takes longer to drain away then it may be appropriate to water your rose only once per week even if it’s recently planted.
Roses like their roots to dry out between applications of water and therefore watering once per week may be sufficient. If you water too frequently, the roots can be exposed to too much moisture for days on end and the rose may succumb to root rot.
Test the moisture levels regularly and water only when the soil is dry.
For the full guide on planting and caring for roses in clay soils check out my article here.
How to Test Soil Moisture
The easiest way to test whether the roses need watering is to check by placing your finger into the soil around the base of the rose. If you can detect moisture in the soil at 2 inches if depth then the soil is sufficiently moist for the rose to be well hydrated.
If you place your finger into the ground and the soil is hard and bone dry then this is the time to water.
It is worth reemphasizing that established roses, or roses that have been in the ground longer then 4 weeks do like the soil to dry out between periods of watering so, if the soil is dry a week after watering do not think you are neglecting the rose.
Unless the conditions are exceptionally dry or humid, roses will thrive with a weekly watering.
Alternatively you can get a soil test kit that is capable of testing the pH of the soil (roses like a slightly acidic soil), the amount of sunlight (roses like 6 or more hours of sun per day) and the moisture levels of soil. Best of all they are available for a great price on Amazon.
Watering a new rose twice a week with four gallons for the first four weeks of planting or transplanting is essential to keep your rose healthy and hydrated.
The addition of regular mulch is always welcome on rose beds of any soil type. Mulch is particularly useful for retaining water so that the roses roots can draw upon the moisture when they need to.
Mulch also helps to keep the surface of the soil soft and at the right texture so that water is able to effectively infiltrate the soil to where it is needed.
This is why it is essential to add mulch around your rose after planting
Not only that mulch will add nutrients to the soil and suppress weed growth so you will have more time to, well…stop and smell the roses!