Issue: June 11, 2005

Will roses rebloom?

Question:

I have always wanted to grow roses and now that I am a homeowner, I have planted some. They bloomed beautifully this spring and then stopped blooming. What can I do to make them bloom again this summer?

Answer:

Some varieties of roses bloom only once a year. Other roses may bloom several times a year, but there are periods of rest between periods of flower production.

Modern hybrid tea roses, floribunda, grandiflora, climbing roses, and many shrub roses will bloom several times each summer. They tend to bloom on a 5-to-7 week cycle. After blooming, they will rest a few weeks and then produce new flowers. To maximize the production of flowers in the next cycle of blooming, prune the old flowers as they fade. This is called "dead heading". When removing spent rose blossoms, trim downward to at least the first 5-leaflet leaf. It is okay to trim it even lower if the branch is interfering with traffic on a sidewalk or growing into another branch. Prune just above a leaf that is pointing in the direction that you want the new stem to grow. Just above the leaf is the bud that will produce the new stem, and it will grow in the direction that it faces.

Instead of removing blossoms after they are faded, it is also possible to cut roses for use indoors. When you cut the roses, this is a form of pruning that may benefit the plant if done properly. Follow the directions regarding pruning to select the direction of growth for the new stem. Cutting long stem roses for indoor use is acceptable and will help to keep the rose more compact.

Adequate watering (frequency depends on the soil type) to prevent wilting, mulch to maintain soil moisture and moderate soil temperature, and monthly fertilization with a balanced fertilizer will all encourage good growth and new flower formation.

Some old fashioned roses (very old varieties) and species roses will only bloom once each year. These should also have their spent blossoms removed unless the rose hips (fruits) are desired for color in the fall or for harvest to produce rose hip jelly or rose hip tea. Even though these will not flower again in the summer, adequate water, mulch, and proper fertilization will help prepare for a good flower display next spring.

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Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at desertblooms@nmsu.edu or at https://www.facebook.com/DesertBloomsNM/. Please include your county Extension Agent (aces.nmsu.edu/county) and your county of residence with your question!

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at desertblooms.nmsu.edu.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.