Summer Rose Care Sets the Stage for Fabulous Fall Blooms

Posted on 11/08/2021

It’s the dog days of summer. Excessive heat can create conditions for our roses to produce smaller blooms and stunted growth to preserve water. Many gardeners don’t realize that right now is the time to prepare for a glorious fall rose display.

August is the time to prepare for a spectacular fall rose bloom!

September, October, November and even up until Christmas, fall is perfect throughout much of the country to spend time in your rose garden. You can enjoy the fruits of your labor and contemplate strategies for expansion and begin to winterize your roses. Fall creates a glorious canvas for the ‘Fall Rose Show’, that nature created with a little assistance from you, of course. It’s time now to begin the process of cutting back for your fall bloom. Since ‘Kimberlina’ was named ‘Floribunda of the Year’ 2009, and is is such a spectacular rose in the fall I chose it to show you how to cut back for fall.

Fall creates a palette of colors that makes your roses look doubly magnificent. From Wisconsin to Texas I’ve seen roses continue to bloom through the holidays. Remember roses can tolerate 3 days of hard frost of temperatures below 21 degrees before they are fully dormant for the season. So you can plan on roses for your bouquets for the Thanksgiving table even in Illinois, maybe Wisconsin. August and September are time to determine if there are any American Rose Society rose shows in the area you may want to exhibit at as well.

Here are some ‘rose of the year’ winners and some roses exclusive to Jackson & Perkins that I’ve grown from Illinois to Texas successfully that bloom beautifully all season and long into the fall:

  1. ‘Kimberlina‘ ‘Floribunda of the Year’ 2009
  2. ‘Black Cherry‘ ‘Floribunda of the Year’
  3. ‘Moondance‘ ‘Floribunda of the Year’ 2007
  4. ‘Sugar Plum’ Exclusively at Jackson & Perkins
  5. ‘Soft Whisper‘ Exclusively at Jackson & Perkins

The nights begin to get cooler…
which creates an environment for black spot* and mildew so water early in the day allowing time for your garden to dry out before nightfall. If and when you travel, or are considering putting in a small rose garden the perfect solution is planting your roses in the Greenwell Water Saver.

Nature Demands Balance

When roses (and virtually any other plant) reach the point of excessive water stress, they don’t “feed,” nor do they try to grow, they simply endure the heat to remain alive. That’s why even when you’re watering daily with what feels like excessive water amounts, many rose bushes will begin shedding their leaves to reduce their water stress. Many folks mistakenly think that dropping of leaves means their plant may be dying or they have “done something wrong.” Let’s dispel that myth. This is nature’s way of plant preservation during excessive heat. Since roses transpire through their foliage, dropping some of their leaves helps minimize water loss. This slows and can literally stop the flow of sap from the roots upward, so no food is taken in. Remember when cutting back for fall to leave some foliage because roses feed through their leaves. Nature demands balance. Even in times of extreme heat I have seen my roses continue to remain beautiful with just smaller blooms and less frequent bloom cycles. Roses seem to go into almost a dormancy state to conserve energy and water during the hottest part of summer.

August Rose Garden Check List:

  • Remove all debris from the garden.
  • Check for spider mites that appear as salt & pepper under the leaves, they can be removed with a water jet.
  • Fertilize with Jackson & Perkins Continuous Slow Release Plant Food Roses Ultimate Collection Rose Food.
  • Add a layer of Good Dirt Soil Conditioner around each rose bush.
  • Check out DIY composting options to convert useful veggie scraps into soil building organic plant food.
  • Replace mulch as needed to conserve water and keep your bed cooler.
  • Continue watering program, plant using Greenwell Water Saver.
  • Order fall rose deals and companion plants like clematis specials that you can plant now and into the fall.
  • Check hanging baskets and containers daily because they dry out faster.
  • Check on any fall rose shows, cut roses back for rose shows at your State Fairs.
  • Cut back your roses and stagger the times of pruning from now thru through the end of September when you want to start to let your roses form rosehips and go into dormancy so they don’t bloom all at once (what rosarians call being a ‘cropper.’).

Summer Rose Watering Guide

  • 90+ degrees: Water every day
  • 80 degrees: Water every two days
  • 70 degrees: Water every three days
  • 60 degrees: Water every four days
  • 50 degrees: Water every five days

How To Fall Prune

A good rule of thumb is to prune your rose bush about one-third to one-half their height. Prune out dead wood. Leave the strong hardy canes. Just deadhead your new rose bushes.

Folks that show roses cut back for the rose shows in their area or the county fair. If you plan on showing in your local rose shows then cut back your roses based on this indicator:

Repeat Rose Cycles In Days:

  • 42-54 Days Hybrid teas, grandifloras, and floribundas
  • 54-60 Days Multi-Petal Floribundas (European)
  • 35 Days Single Petal Floribundas (Playboy)
  • 35-42 Days Miniatures

Follow this guide to a spectacular fall rose bloom and you can enjoy autumn in your garden and your roses will enter into winter dormancy the better for it as stronger plants.

Organic treatment for black spot:

Treatment: According to author and horticultural professor Jeff Gillman, who has conducted extensive research on black spot remedies, a spray composed of one part cow’s milk* and two parts water is the best answer to the disease. When applied weekly, the solution controls black spot as well as any synthetic fungicide, including Chlorotalonil.

Gillman says he thinks it’s the lactoferrin that milk contains that makes it effective against black spot. Lactoferrin also helps to fight diseases in people.

*any fat content you prefer. Rice, soy, and almond milk will have no affect on roses.

ANOTHER UPDATE: 2/3 water and 1/3 milk solution works on black spot. The solution also acts as a deer repellent according to the West Virginia Botanical Garden. I haven’t tried it with the raccoons as of yet, but I will.