Caring for Roses in the Pacific Northwest

You and your rose soul mates have found each other. Now what? How do you keep them happy and thriving in our maritime Pacific Northwest climate? Roses are not completely carefree, but with a few basic care guidelines, you can find success.


Remove your rose from its pot and gently massage the tangle of feeder roots to loosen them from the soil ball. If the mass is so severely rootbound that you can't loosen the roots, use a clean, sharp knife to score the root mass, then spread the roots gently apart. This is essential so the roots can grow out into the soil.

Choose a location that receives full sun (at least 6-8 hours of sun per day) for planting and avoid crowding rose plants in order to provide adequate air circulation and help prevent disease.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough to ensure that the graft at the base of the stem remains above ground level after planting. The graft looks like a protruding nub or ball on the woody stem.

Place your rose and fill the hole with a mixture of 4 parts existing soil to 1 part compost or soil conditioner. Gently pat down and be sure the graft remains 1-2" above the soil.

Watering & Fertilizing

Water roses immediately after planting and then twice a week for the first summer. You can then water once or twice a week in subsequent summers (don't forget to water during dry periods in spring and fall as well). 

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are great watering tools because they water slowly enough to allow the water to soak into the soil deeply. Plus, they keep water off the leaves, which helps stop the dreaded black spot and other diseases from attacking your plants.

Fertilizing encourages strong growth and blooms. We like Espoma Rose-tone or Dr. Earth Rose and Flower Fertilizer. Both are natural and organic. Always follow the instructions on the package for best results. 

Preventing Diseases

In the Pacific Northwest, fungal diseases such as black spot can be a real problem. Since it's very difficult to eradicate a fungal disease outbreak during the spring and summer, it's best to prevent the plant from getting the disease in the first place. Here are a few tips:

Keep the foliage dry during the warm seasons by not watering from above.

Practice good sanitation. Remove all dead leaves and dead twigs from the ground. Remove and destroy all affected leaves. Do not put these leaves in your home compost.

Use safe fungicide sprays to kill disease spores that are present. These sprays can also help prevent spores from germinating if used over a period of time. Fungicides will not cure already affected leaves, but can be used to help prevent healthy leaves from becoming affected.

Pest Control

Aphids are one of the most common rose pests. Fortunately, there are several ways to rid your roses of these pests.

Inspect your plants often. Early detection and removal helps avoid larger infestations. 

Remove aphids by gently smashing them between your thumb and forefinger, but try not to bruise the leaves of your plants or damage the flower buds.

There are also many safe insecticidal soaps and sprays for use on roses. Our experts can help you choose the best option for your specific issues. Remember, always follow the instructions on the label when using!


Caring for your roses can be very rewarding, especially when you see the "blooms of your labor"! If you have questions or need advice, we're always here to help. Come into the nursery or ask from home, using our Grow with Us program; just post your question on Twitter, Instagram, or our Facebook wall with #heyswansons