How To Care for Roses

Portland is known throughout the world as the City of Roses, so it’s no surprise that we have an abundance of streets, yards, and gardens lined and filled with an array of fascinating and gorgeous rose bushes. Portland became known as the City of Roses during the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905. During that time, over 20 miles of city streets were lined with the Madame Caroline Testout rose (pictured below). The name stuck. Considering so many Portlanders are growing roses, today we thought we’d share some tips on how to care for roses in the City or Roses.

Portland is known as the City of Roses

How To Care for Roses in Portland


Roses need about 1-2 inches of water per week. More is needed for container roses. When watering, avoid getting water directly onto leaves, buds, and blooms. If you stick your finger in the soil and it’s dry, you need to add water. If the soil feels muddy, you may be over-watering, cut back.


Feeding roses does not have to be tricky. Roses thrive most when fertilized a few times each season. If you think about it like rewarding the plant with extra food after successful growth bursts, you’ll get it right. We suggest after the bush first leafs out, then after each flush of fresh blooms for the rest of the season. Stop fertilizing around Labor Day, or 2 months before the first potential frost.


Mulching around rose beds is a great way to care for roses. It keeps soil moist, adds extra nutrients, and prevent weeds from surfacing. Generously spread 2-4 inches of mulch (organic preferred) over rose beds, leaving a small area around the base of the rose bush.


The biggest pests to roses in Portland are aphids. Aphids will suck the sap from the tender parts of your rose bush. If you find you have a problem with them, the best solution is to douse your roses in soap and water. This will also help to control mites. If you see other small bugs, just pluck them from the roses as you see them.


Don’t be afraid to prune, prune, prune! Generous pruning creates bigger plants with more flowers. For modern varieties, pruning keeps them flowering all season long. Established hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandiflores should be pruned in the early spring. Roses that bloom only once a year should be pruned right after flowering.

All Oregon Maintains Yards in Portland Including Roses

Want help with your unwieldy roses? All Oregon Landscaping can help care for roses and anything else you find hard to maintain in your landscape. We design, implement, and maintain landscapes throughout Portland and the surrounding areas.  We work in Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Oregon City, Gresham, Sherwood, Sellwood, Hillsboro, Tigard, and any other surrounding community. Call today to get started!

Photo by A. Barra (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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