Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/29/2016 to Pruning Tips
Drift Roses are repeat-bloomers that are tough, disease resistant, winter and summer hardy, and virtually maintenance-free. The low, spreading and/or mounding habit of Drift Roses makes them the perfect choice for smaller spaces. They have many applications in landscape design: to brighten up borders, fill in empty spaces, along walkways or paths, and to spread delicately around larger established plants throughout my landscape. They are perfect for tucking in throughout the landscape to provide season-long color.
Drift Roses do not have to be pruned, though they respond well to it. They will still perform and bloom quite well with no pruning, however will benefit from some simple and easy pruning for shaping purposes and to encourage even heavier flowering.
How To Prune Drift Roses
Annual Hard Pruning
Drift Roses can be pruned hard before new leaves begin to emerge in late winter or early spring. At this time, use a sharp pair of bypass or other pruners to cut the rose back to about 4 to 6 inches above the ground. This ensures that the plant will have a good habit and healthy blooms throughout the season.
Deadheading Drift Roses
To encourage more buds and blooms during the blooming season, deadhead spent spent blooms. Make your cut at the base of the flower cluster stem.
Note: Cease pruning Drift Roses two months prior to the average first-frost date in your area.
Other Care Tips for Drift Roses
How To Fertilize Drift Roses
Drift Roses are fast growers and heavy bloomers that will benefit from fertilization. We recommend feeding them right after the late winter pruning, and then every 6 weeks or so during the growing season, with a rose food or an organic plant food. Cease fertilization 2 months prior to the average first-frost date in your area.
Feed Drift Roses growing in containers as directed on the product label with a slow release granular or water soluble plant fertilizer listed for use in containers.
Drift Groundcover Roses grow best in a mildly acid to neutral soil ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
Testing Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, or whether or not it's suitable for growing Drift Roses it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area.
You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.
Learn More: What is Soil pH and How To Adjust It?
How To Water Drift Roses
Drift Roses grow best in a moist but well-drained soil. Constantly soggy or wet soil can cause root rot or other harmful plant diseases. So be careful not to over-water your Drift Roses!
TIP: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliar diseases. During the first few weeks after planting, check soil moisture often and adjust irrigation time if necessary to keep the soil moist, not wet.
At Planting Time
Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area, including the rootball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost to stimulate early root formation and stronger root development, consider watering your newly planted Drift Roses with a solution of Root Stimulator. Root Stimulator reduces transplant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.
During the First Active Growth Season
In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Drift Roses every day. More often than not, this causes soggy soil conditions that can lead to root rot and other harmful plant diseases. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the root ball and surrounding soil damp to moist.
Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again, is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day. Roses planted during the winter dormant season, when they are not actively growing and evaporation is much slower, will require much less water. So, be extra careful not to overwater during winter!
When established, Drift Roses are quite drought tolerant plants. Only during periods of summer drought will they require supplemental irrigation. If you see new leaves wilting, the tips of new stems bending over, or leaves dropping from the plant during dry weather this could be a sign your roses could use a good deep soaking. Check soil moisture and provide water only if necessary.
Plant Long & Prosper!
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