How Best to Water Roses (7 Useful Tips)


How best to water roses

If you have roses planted in good soil amended with plenty of organic matter then you will need to water most established roses once per week with around 2 gallons of water during the growing season, preferably in the early morning. In temperate climates you don’t need to water roses during the winter.

Type of Rose How much water (in the growing season) How many times per week
Established Rose bushes 2 Gallons (9 litres) 1 watering per week
Large Climbing Roses 4 Gallons (18 litres) 1 watering per week
Newly Planted Roses 2 Gallons (9 litres) 3 or 4 times per week
Potted Roses 2 Gallons (9 litres) 1 or 2 times per week
Roses in Sand Soil 2 Gallons (9 litres) 1 or 2 times per week

How much water a rose will require and how often you need to water it will depend on other conditions such as the soil type, temperature, wind, rainfall and how recently the rose has been planted.

Keep reading to find out exactly how to water your rose in these different conditions, how to make roses more drought resistant, how to test whether your rose need watering if you are in doubt and everything else you need to know about watering roses…

Water Your Rose Once per Week in Normal Conditions

In most temperate climates you will need to water your rose once per week during spring and summer. Roses do best with a ‘soak and dry’ style of watering as their roots do not tolerate persistently wet soil. As long as they receive a good soak with enough water then once per week is ideal under normal sunny conditions

However you will need to increase the frequency of watering if:

  • Your garden is in a particularly hot climate
  • Or if the summer is particularly hot, without any significant rainfall.
  • Your garden is exposed and windy
  • The soil in your garden is naturally sandy and drains very quickly

During the hottest and driest weeks of summer you will need to water your rose twice, if not three times per week. Drooping leaves and stems are usually the first sign of stress from drought in which case you should water the rose immediately.

If you have naturally sandy soil that is quick draining in your garden or perhaps the rose is in a more windy exposed area then you will need to water the rose twice per week each time with a long soak.

If your garden soil contains significant amounts of clay then it may drain much slower. In which case you should only water once per week even in dry conditions and amend the soil with organic matter to improve drainage.

Check out my article for advice on how to grow roses in clay soil successfully.

In the late Fall and Winter months, your rose will be in a state of dormancy.

During winter in temperate climates you will not need to water your rose until the following spring as your rose will not be actively growing and the soil is naturally more moist in winter.

In dry climates you can water your rose once a month during the winter and resume the normal once per week watering schedule when the weather begins to warm up in the spring and the first leaves start to emerge.

This advice relies on having planted your rose in soil that has been amended with lots of organic matter as this will hold moisture which allows the roots to draw upon it as and when its needed whilst also providing good drainage so that water is not pooling around the roots for extended periods and causing rot.

For clear advice in improving soil structure check out my article on the best mulch for improving soil for roses.

Regosa roses are the hardiest and most drought resistant rose species and therefore best suited for your garden if you live in a dry or windy climate.

Whatever you do, don’t make these mistakes…

  • Do not water your rose little and often throughout the week. If you only use enough water to soak the first inch or two of soil then you will encourage the roots to grow near the surface rather then establish deep down into the soil which will make your rose less stable in windy conditions.
  • Do not over water your rose. If you water your rose too frequently (several times per week) with lots of water then the ground can become too wet and the roots of your rose will begin to rot.

Soaking your roses once per week, encourages the roots to grow deep, further increasing the roses resistance to drought as they can tap into moisture supplies deep in the soil.

How to Tell if your Rose Needs Watering

In the hotter and drier weeks of the summer it can often be difficult to tell weather your rose needs watering more then once per week. The best way to definitively tell whether your rose needs watering is to test the soil with your finger.

Place your finger into the soil surrounding the rose as deep as you can.

  • If the soil feels slightly dry to a fingers depth and you can only slightly detect some moisture then this is the perfect time to water your rose.
  • If the soil is bone dry then you will need to water the rose immediately.
  • If the soil is still noticeably damp then you should leave watering for a few days.

Your soil should always be light enough in texture to perform this test.

If you soil is compacted or has been baked hard in the sun then you should spread some mulch over your rose bed to improve the soil structure and ease compaction.

How Much Water Your Rose Needs

Established Roses of all kinds need a good soak of at least 2 gallons (10 litres) of water once per week. If you have a particularly large and mature climbing rose then (depending on the soil type) you may need to increase this to 4 gallons (20 litres) every time your water the rose.

Potted roses also need 2-4 gallons every time your do the watering. Potted roses have less soil to draw up water from and potentially do not benefit as much from rainfall. Also pots can heat up in the sun which will increase evaporation from the soil and dry out the rose so you need to test the soil moisture of potted roses more regularly.

If you have a many roses in your garden then a hose with a spray attachment will save a lot of labour. Use a spray setting rather then a jet as you need to water roses slowly to make sure the moisture sinks in rather then runs off the surface and jets can blast away the soil around the rose.

Give the soil surrounding your rose a nice even soak.

Avoid watering the leaves as much as you can as overly wet conditions facilitate the spread of fungus such as blackspot and powdery mildew.

If the soil that has been amended with plenty of organic matter to hold moisture and the soil structure is light enough to allow for good drainage then precise measurements of water are not strictly necessary, just ensure you have given the soil a good soak.

Roses that are planted in gardens with sandy soil may well need more water as rainfall and water can drain too quickly for the roots of the rose to draw up moisture.

Although with sandy soils you cannot fix the fast drainage problem by just adding more water. It is more important that you amend the soil and bring about a lasting change. For more advice on how to grow roses in sandy soils take a look at my full guide.

Newly Planted Roses Need Watering Every Other Day

Roses that you have just planted will need more attention. If you have planted a new rose in the spring and summer months then you will need to water it with 2 gallons every day in hot weather for the first 4 weeks or every other day if the weather is more overcast and soil evaporation is lower.

After 4 weeks the roots should have become more established and you can reduce watering to twice per week. Once fully established after 3 months then you can resume a normal watering cycle of one soak per week.

If you have planted a rose in the Fall or Winter months then evaporation will be much lower, so soil stay moist for longer. Only water the rose once every three days for the first 4 weeks and then water once per week in the spring when the new seasons leaves are beginning to emerge.

Watering Roses after Significant Rainfall

If you have had particularly heavy rain fall over the course of the week then it may not be necessary to water your rose.

If there has been more then 2 inches of rainfall in your area then you can skip watering your rose this week as long as you soil contains organic matter and retains water well. Watering your rose when it has already received over 2 inches of rainfall can potentially be too much.

Rose roots like a ‘soak and dry’ style of watering, so if the soil is persistently wet rather then just moist for too long the roots can potentially rot.

If there has been under 2 inches of rain in the space of 7 days then water your rose as normal.

You can rely on a weather forecast app to tell you how much rainfall there has been but your specific region can have its own micro-climate.

This is why I prefer to use a rain gauge in my garden so I know exactly how much rainfall there has been that week so I can adjust my rose watering schedule accordingly. Best of all rain gauges are available for a great price on Amazon!

Early Morning is the Best Time to Water Roses

The best time to water roses is in the morning. Giving your roses a good soak in the morning will charge them with water before the hot summer’s day ahead.

Watering roses in the evening will not necessarily do them any harm, but by watering your garden at night you will create the ideal damp conditions for slugs, snails and other nocturnal pests to emerge under the cover of darkness and consume the leaves (Rose slugs are the most common culprit).

By watering at the start of the day you allow for the water to soak deep into the soil and over the course of the day, the surface of the soil will become less damp which will benefit the rose and make the conditions less favourable for slugs.

Early morning watering also allows for the foliage of the rose to dry off in the sun which can help to prevent the spread the two most common rose funguses, powdery mildew and blackspot as these thrive in wet or humid conditions.

How to Conserve Water (Make Roses Drought Resistant)

A regular application of mulch will help retain water in the soil around your rose the growing season and therefore increase its resistance to drought.

Adding mulch is essential if your garden has sandy, fine soils that tend to drain quickly as the mulch will help improve the soils ability to hold water long enough for the rose roots to draw it up.

Although I would thoroughly recommend adding mulch around your roses once per year regardless of your soil type as mulch will benefit your rose in many ways…

  • During the hottest days of summer the direct sunlight can really heat up the soil and dry it out. A layer of mulch over the top of the soil significantly cools the ground and lowers the rate of evaporation.
  • Mulch composed from organic material will also absorb water and hold onto it like a sponge. This will help maintain the right balance of moisture in the soil so that the roots can draw upon the moisture as they need it.
  • Soils can become baked hard when they are subject to high temperatures and persistent sunlight which causes water to run off the top of the soil and not soak deep down towards the roses roots. Mulch will help to soften the texture of the soil and encourage rainfall or water to infiltrate into the soil rather then run off the top and away from the rose roots.

The best types of mulch for preserving moisture are compost, leaf mould, well rotted horse manure and grass clippings. My personal favourite mulch for roses is leaf mould as it has a superb capacity to hold onto water, to stop the soil around your rose from drying out.

Mulches also add nutrients to the soil, improve soil structure and it is beneficial for the soil ecosystem which in turn will benefit your rose.

Apply your chosen mulch on the soil around your rose at a thickness of 2 inches. Make sure that you leave 6 inches of bear ground between the mulch and the rose canes as rose wood that is above ground, doesn’t like to be exposed to moist material.

For best results apply the mulch at the start of spring as the temperatures are beginning to rise so that you can ensure your rose is more resistant to drought and the effects of high temperatures.

Conclusion

Roses need at least 2 gallons of water twice per week in the growing season. Watering in the mornings is always best as it will charge the rose with water before the upcoming hot summers day.

Newly planted roses need more water as the become established. In hot weather they may need 2 gallons of water per day, but under normal conditions they will need watering every other day for about 4 weeks when their roots are more established.

If the weather is particularly hot, dry or windy, or you have fast draining soils then watering twice a week may be necessary with 2 gallons of water each time.

If you garden has received more then 2 inches of rainfall in 7 days then you can skip watering that week. Additional watering after a week of heavy rainfall can make the soil too wet for rose roots.

Mulch is always appreciated in a rose garden as it does a fantastic job of persevering moisture, improves soil structure and adds nutrients.

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