We have pruned and planted many Roses in the last few years for our clients. Here’s some tips on rose care from how to prune roses to fertilizer for roses

How to care for roses Nanaimo BC

Get beautiful roses in your landscape

Roses have many benefits that make them great addition to the landscape.  They are beautiful, provide shelter, screen undesirable views, help blanket noise, enhance privacy, reduce air pollution and add property value. These benefits make roses a valuable investment, especially with careful selection, planting and long-term care. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff are here to help you make the right selections for your site.  You will be able to enjoy your roses for many years to come and may be inspired to plant a rose garden!

Roses have been prized in gardens for centuries, however many modern gardeners shy away from planting roses because of the perceived maintenance that goes with them. THEY’RE WRONG! Hardy shrub roses are a diverse group of plants that will survive and thrive in our climate without a lot of extra work. The work being done with rose breeding is amazing and each year we are inspired by new varieties that have improved hardiness, disease resistance and ornamental attributes.

We plant alot of roses from common to unique varieties.  We start bringing in our nursery stock in May and get fresh stock in on a weekly basis until September. We have a diverse selection of roses that come in a variety of colours and growth habits, sure to suit everyone’s tastes and needs.
Nanaimo has a great climate for growing plants. We dont suffer the Chinooks like Alberta which can cause plants to start growing during warm spells, only to be knocked back once temperatures fall back within normal winter ranges.  The lack of humidity and dry soils add another obstacle to success with plants in their climate. We have alot of different varieties that are spectacular performers for our area, making them an ideal plant for Vancouver Island 

Rose Planting / Exposure

Plant containerized nursery stock anytime from spring through to fall.  Spring is a great time to plant as you get the best selection and allow plants to establish before the onset of winter.  Roses require a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day and perform better if they have some shelter from winds. 

Hardiness Zone

Hardiness zone is a geographically defined area in which specific plant life is capable of growing.  It encompasses climatic conditions such as plants ability to withstand minimum temperatures.  Nanaimo is located in zone 6.  We experience a large variance of climatic conditions within the city, depending on where you are located.  You will notice different microclimates within your yard that allows you to grow plants that would otherwise be out of your zone.  It is recommended to use zones as a guideline when selecting plants.  Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 are ideal candidates for landscapes in colder areas.  Zone 5 trees and shrubs can be seen growing successfully in many different landscape situations; a little extra care may be required.


Watering is a key component to success when planting.  All plants require water regularly while becoming established; the first two years are crucial.  Newly planted roses need to be watered frequently and thoroughly. What does this mean?  A general guideline is a deep watering twice a week, and more often during hot weather. Place a hose at the base of the tree on a slow trickle for 20-45 minutes; this will ensure root ball and surrounding soil has enough water available to support plant growth and establish a deep, strong root system. Monitor new plants and if at any time the root ball feels dry water deeply using a slow trickle.

New plantings will often wilt during the heat of the day and then recover at night when temperatures drop. This is normal as plants are trying to set down and establish a root system to support their canopy. If plants look limp and wilted for several days you may need to increase watering and add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help prevent the soil and root ball from drying out.

In the early fall, allow the soil to dry slightly so plant growth slows down in preparation for winter. Depending on temperatures, watering deeply every 2-3 weeks is ideal. In the late fall it is extremely important to water everything thoroughly to increase winter survivability.  All plants, especially new plantings, need a good drink before the ground freezes; this prevents damage to roots from cold dry, soils which in turn will prevent damage to above ground portions of roses.

Best fertilizer for roses

Soil contains all the nutrients plants need to grow and thrive; unfortunately soils may not have nutrients in sufficient quantities to suit each plant’s needs.  It is advisable to add 2-3 inches (5-7.5cm) of organic matter on an annual basis to help add nutrients to the soil.  Plants also benefit greatly from the regular application of fertilizer.

New roses:

It is strongly recommended to use a starter fertilizer at the time of planting for all new transplants. Choose a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous, such as 10-52-10, will encourage the development of a strong root system which is necessary for healthy growth and production.  It will also help prevent transplant shock. You can continue to use this fertilizer throughout the first growing season.

Established roses:

There are a variety of fertilizer formulations available for established plants. Regular applications throughout the growing season are recommended, following label directions.  Stop fertilizing at the end of July, late summer or fall fertilizing may stimulate new growth at a time of year when plants should be hardening off and preparing for the winter.

When to prune roses

Pruning is a technique used to limit or train growth, improve appearance, influence flowering and fruiting, and remove damaged or diseased parts. Shrub roses require very little pruning, if pruning is required ensure you are pruning at the right time of the year.

  • Prune roses that bloom once annually shortly after they finish flowering.  This type of rose blooms on old wood, which means flower buds for the following year are formed during the summer.  If pruning is done in the fall or spring flower production will decrease.
  • Repeat and continuous blooming roses must be pruned in the fall or early spring.

General guidelines for pruning roses:

  • The three Ds – always remove dead, damaged and diseased wood.  
  • A good rule of thumb is to limit your pruning to ¼ to ⅓ of the overall plant (live material) in one growing season.
  • Older shrubs may require rejuvenation – remove up to a third of the oldest, thickest canes to the ground each year for 3 years.  This encourages vigorous growth and flower production.
  • Always remove crossing and inward growing branches.
  • Try to maintain good air circulation; this will prevent disease from developing.  Thin out branches to allow air to get into the center of the plant.

Winter Protection for roses

For the most part, hardy shrub roses do not require winter protection.  To increase their survivability, especially during the first couple of years of establishment, roses benefit from some winter protection.


Apply a 5 inch (12cm) layer of mulch around the base of the plant. The purpose of mulching is to keep the ground frozen and insulate the roots.


Mound 12 inches (30cm) of soil up around the base of the plant.  After the soil freezes cover with a thick layer of mulch such as leaves, grass clipping, bark mulch. Then add a second layer of heavier mulch like straw or bark.  Wrap wire around the plant to hold the mulches in place and allows for water to drain.


Mound 12 inches (30cm) of soil up around the base of the plant.  After the soil freezes cover with a thick layer of mulch (leaves, grass clipping, bark mulch). Place a Styrofoam box or rose cone over the rose plant and fill with mulch.

In addition one thing you can do periodically throughout the winter is cover roses with fresh snow.  This acts as an insulator to prevent freezing and thawing of the ground.