How to Grow Roses in Windy Areas (6 Step Guide)

Why is my rose drooping

All Rose species appreciate some air circulation around their leaves to prevent common diseases such as powdery mildew. However, exposure to persistently windy areas poses several problems for rose growers…

Rugosa roses grow very well in windy areas. Plant a natural wind break such as conifers to form a barrier from severe gusts. Roses in windy areas typically need more water, a good fertilizer, frequent mulch application to retain water and tactical pruning to reduce wind resistance to ensure only the strongest, most resilient growth remains.

With some careful preparation, you will be able to grow roses in windy areas successfully with a plentiful flower display. Let’s take a further look at the top tips that will ensure your rose thrives…

1. Choose a Rugosa Rose for Windy Areas

Rugosa Roses are easily the best species for windy gardens and perhaps my favourite rose of all.

There are many different varieties of Rugosa roses with multiple colours, fragrances and beautiful flower shapes and they are all characterised by their extreme hardiness, resistance to disease, tolerance of windy conditions and ability to live in coastal conditions, with frequent exposure to sea spray.

Rugosa roses growing by the sea
Rugosa Rose growing well by a windy coastline.

Rugosa roses are also valued by rose growers for their ability to grow in sandy soils and to tolerate partial drought.

This ability to thrive despite the unfavourable conditions makes it the perfect rose for windy gardens.

2. Create a Natural Wind Break with Conifers or Yew Hedges

In consistently windy and exposed areas I would always recommend creating a natural or artificial windbreak to try and deflect strong gusts.

Ideally, for this, you will need a densely vegetated evergreen such as a conifer. As conifers retain their foliage throughout the year, therefore they will still provide protection for roses in the winter when wind can be at its strongest.

Conifers are ideal as they are strong enough to handle wind themselves and they grow in a uniform, almost opaque barrier rather than other shrubs and trees which may form sparse branches and not grow in the shape that you need without significant cultivation over a length of time.

Conifers are also readily available at nurseries, garden centres or even online at the appropriate size and height to be planted as a barrier for your rose bush so that you do not have to be patient and wait for the tree to grow to an effective size. Instant gardening for the win!

It is important that the conifers do not exclude light from your roses (which need at least 6 hours of direct sun per day) and I would recommend that you plant your barrier vegetation at least 4 feet away.

Roses are heavy feeders and require a lot of nutrients so if you plant other shrubs too close they will have to compete for water and nutrients which could be to the detriment of the rose.

Of course, you do not have to use a wall of conifers as a windbreak; there may be other shrubs that you prefer or perhaps you could use an artificial windbreak such as a trellis or some fencing.

Remember roses appreciate some air circulation as it prevents diseases so do not crowd your rose, but rather just try to block direct, persistent strong winds that dry the rose out.

3. Water Twice per Week with 4 Gallons if it’s Hot and Windy

As we know wind can dry the rose’s leaves, the canes and the surrounding moisture in the soil, but when it’s combined with dry, hot conditions the problem can be much worse.

If you are experiencing a heat wave or live in a particularly arid place such as Arizona then you will need to water your rose more diligently than any other time.

The traditional advice for watering established roses is to give your rose a good soak once a week and let the soil dry somewhat in between periods of watering as rose roots do not like persistent exposure to water and they love good drainage.

However, if it’s windy, transpiration from the leaves will be higher than usual anyway, so arid air will only exacerbate the problem.

In these conditions, you need to look at your rose for any signs of heat stress. This can be yellowing leaves, or leaves that are curling and drooping.

If you have baking hot days with little to no rain and windy conditions in the growing season (spring and summer) then I would recommend that you water your rose twice in one week with 4 to 5 gallons of water each time.

You may want to use a soaker hose at this time as it can be tiring and time-consuming to refill the watering can several times.

Top Tip: If you are not sure whether your rose needs watering, place your finger in the soil around the base of the rose. If you can detect any moisture then leave watering for another day or so and test the soil again. If the soil is dry then this is the perfect time to give your rose a generous watering.

Roses like when the soil dries somewhat between watering so don’t feel as though you have neglected your rose. The ‘soak and dry’ cycle of watering is exactly what it likes.

Always water your rose at least once per week unless you have had more than 1 inch of rain over a period of 7 days, even then I would check the soil to be on the safe side.

4. Apply Mulch Twice a Year in Windy Areas to Retain Water

Applying mulch frequently in windy gardens is one of the best things you can do to ensure the health of your rose.

The primary benefit of mulch around roses in windy gardens is that organic material will help retain water in the soil around the base of the rose.

Wind can sap moisture from soil so adding water absorbent mulch will help your rose draw up more water to counteract the drying effects of wind.

The three best mulches for roses in windy gardens are leaf mould, well-rotted manure and compost made from general garden and kitchen waste.

This is because they all have an exceptional capacity to hold onto water, far more so than other common mulches such as wood bark or straw.

Whilst these three mulches hold onto water, they form a structure that allows excess water to drain away which are the ideal conditions for roses. The roots of the rose will have more time to draw upon the moisture in the soil before the wind dries it out.

The best way to produce leaf mould is to use your lawn mower to shred the leaves and then place the shredded leaves in a composting area and allow them to rot down to the point it’s partially decomposed before being used as a mulch and therefore not liable to blow away.

Mulch also improves soil structure, neutralizes soil pH, improves drainage, fuels the soil ecology and gradually releases nutrients into the soil for added fertility.

Spread the mulch in a two-inch layer around the base of the rose bush. Leave a 3-inch gap between the mulch and the rose canes as the wood above ground does not like to be exposed to persistent moisture.

I personally do this once at the start of the growing season in April or May and then once more before winter in September to insulate the roots from the worst of winter’s cold.

The mulch will keep the roots cool in the summer heat, keep the ground moist and suppress weed growth.

5. Roses in Windy Areas Need 6 Hours of Sun per Day and a Good Fertilizer

In order to grow the strongest and most robust rose that can cope with windy areas you need to ensure your rose is as healthy as possible.

This includes direct sun for preferably more than 6 hours per day. Roses that receive less sun or are subject to partial shade tend to grow leggy, weaker and their canes and new growth can droop downwards.

Leggy weak roses are obviously more susceptible to a battering from the wind. Make sure your rose is receiving enough sunlight so it can thrive. If it’s not then I suggest you transplant the rose to a more accommodating sunny spot. You can also check that no overhanging branches from nearby trees have grown too large and are now robbing your rose of precious light.

If they are chop back the canopy and allow your rose to be bathed in glorious sunshine! You will also see better blooms too.

A good fertilizing routine is also a great idea as it will increase the strength and resistance of your rose as well as improve the display of flowers. For the full guide on how to organically fertilize roses check out my article here.

Alternatively for less experienced rose growers I always recommend miracle grow rose and shrub fertilizer.

It contains all the ingredients that a rose needs to thrive all in the right concentrations. Not only that, it is formulated to require only two applications per year at the first site of flower buds and again at the second flush of buds.

All you need to do is rake your mulch to one side, scatter the granules directly onto the soil and then return the mulch, followed by a generous watering in.

It is very simple to use and I have had excellent results, particularly with the number of flowers on display in the season.

6. Prune Properly Every Year in Spring to Prevent Wind Damage

Regular pruning of your rose is essential for removing dead wood, weak leggy growth and any canes that may be in contact and rub against each other which can lead to infections.

Weaker growth is also far more susceptible to wind damage and dead wood will just increase the wind resistance of the rose bush without adding anything beneficial.

After a moderate pruning you should be left with the strongest, most resilient rose canes so the whole bush is reduced in size and is lower to the ground and less exposed.

This will encourage a stronger, healthier rose that is also more resistant to disease and capable of producing more flowers. I always do moderate prune of my roses in the Spring, usually in late March.

The optimal time for pruning is when growth is just beginning, the uppermost buds will look like they are beginning to expand but no leaves will have appeared.

For the full guide on pruning roses, check out this YouTube video.


If you are planting roses in a windy garden I would strongly recommend a regosa species of rose as they are noted for their tolerance to wind, disease and other unfavourable conditions. They are also a beautiful example of a rose with a wonderful fragrance.

If the wind is particularly persistent it is always a good idea to plant a natural wind break to deflect the strongest gusts.

Wind saps water from the rose and soil so make sure you layer down a good water-retaining mulch such as leaf mould and ensure that you water the rose at least once per week with 4 gallons of water in the growing season. If you have a hot spell of weather or you are in a naturally arid climate I would recommend that you water your roses twice per week.

The best advice for watering is to use your intuition, react to the weather and act accordingly. If your rose is exhibiting signs of stress (drooping foliage) then give the rose a good long soak.

Look after your rose with good fertilizer, regular mulch and appropriate pruning to make sure your rose is as healthy and robust as it can be and your rose should thrive in a windy area.

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