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Roses Growing Too Tall—What To Do?

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Rose bushes have a unique charm that makes a garden look beautiful and welcoming. However, having thick rose bushes is only possible if the lower stems are still developing flowers. So, what should you do if the stems are becoming too leggy and looking more like a tree than a shrub? We have researched answers for you. 

To keep rose bushes from looking tall and lanky, here's what you can do:

  • Notch the roses. This will build up the nutrients in the lower part of the stems so the rose blooms just above the bud. Do this by feeling along the lower stems for a bump and slicing an inch above it without removing the bark around the stem. 
  • Prune them. It is most ideal to prune tall roses in the late winter to early spring. Remove all the dead branches and stems to encourage rose growth, but avoid pruning too much of their canes.

Roses can add beauty to your home or garden if you take care of them. Roses only ever grow tall when they're not getting enough sunlight and nutrients and are trying to conserve energy by keeping the lower buds dormant and concentrating resources to the top of the plant. Knowing when and how to prune, then, is essential if you want to keep your roses bushy, so keep reading below to learn more. 

Girl cuts or trims the bush (rose) with secateur in the garden, Roses Growing Too Tall—What To Do?

How to Create Better Rose Blooms

Beautiful fresh roses in nature. Natural background, large inflorescence of roses on a garden bush.

Roses are popular not only as bouquet flowers but also as naturally grown bushes. It makes a garden space look more attractive, especially if they are thick, bushy, and has huge blooms.

Here is how you can make your rose bushes bloom better—

Fertilize the Soil

This is a no-brainer: healthy soil results in healthier blooms. Apply fertilizer during late winter, then add another in June and in July.

See this fertilizer on Amazon.

Layer with Mulch

Organic mulch will prevent bacteria from penetrating the leaves of the roses. The mulch should be at least 2-3 inches deep for it to be beneficial for the roses.

Mix with Egg Shells

Eggshells release calcium into the soil, which in turn nourishes the rose bushes. When the rose gets enough calcium, it will bloom better.

Make sure you crush the shells into fine ground pieces and mix them with the soil. 

Bury Banana Peels

Phosphorous is responsible for the growth and bloom of flowers, and this can be found abundantly in banana peels. Blend and crush the peels using a blender, let them sit for 15 minutes, and mix them into the soil.

How to Prune Rose Bushes

Red Roses on a bush in a garden.

Pruning your roses is essential to keep the rose bush thick and healthy. If the rose bushes grow too tall, the stems might get caught in the wind and snap. Here is how you should prune rose bushes to make them thrive—

Use Sharp Pruners

Using sharp by-pass hand pruners creates cleaner cuts, which prevent you from cutting more than what's needed. Make diagonal cuts 1/4 inch around a new bud, or you can cut them in the direction you want them to grow. 

See these pruners on Amazon.

Cut the Dead Canes

Cut the dead and spindly canes and stems on their point of origin. The taller the roses, the more you'll have to prune. Healthy rose bushes should have 4-5 strong canes. 

Make sure when you prune the other canes that you cut 1/4 inch above a sprouting bud to make the rose bush thick again. The same is applied to retain the bush's thickness.

How Much Sun Do Rose Bushes Need?

Each variety of roses requires a specific amount of sun to thrive. Generally, rose bushes need to be exposed to 6-8 hours of sunlight each day to bloom properly.

Some roses that need to be exposed to sunlight but are placed in shaded areas tend to grow taller.

This is why where you plant your roses is important: regardless of how much you prune your bushes, if they are not receiving enough sunlight, it will be difficult to grow them. 

However, there are other rose varieties that can tolerate and even thrive in partially shaded areas.

Some species that thrive in shade include Anthony Meilland or Floribunda Rose, "Carefree Wonder" Rose, Grootendorst Rose, Fair Bianca Rose, and Ice Mediland Rose.

Climbing and woodland roses typically tolerate shaded areas, so these varieties are ideal if you live in an area with a relatively dry climate. 

Do Roses Survive in Winter?

The Rose With Frost

Most roses cannot survive in temperatures lower than 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, if a rose bush has been planted and grown in areas that have harsh winters, roses can possibly adapt, but only on the condition that it has been cared for all year round.

A rose bush that has been tended to before winter can have a better chance of withstanding extreme temperature changes.

How Does Notching Work?

large pink and yellow rose Bud with petals notched side view among the leaves so green in the garden on a summer's day in the morning

Roses typically follow the direction of the sunlight. When this happens, roses that haven't been pruned properly will concentrate all the nutrients to go to the top of the bushes, resulting in a taller bush. 

Here's how you properly notch a rose or other plants that need notching—

Pick the Right Season

Choosing the perfect time to notch is essential in encouraging the growth of plants. You should avoid notching during the winter since the plants or bushes won't be able to make a full recovery and push out branches. 

If you notch your plants during the beginning of spring, the rose bushes will be able to push out more branches since it is already being stimulated by nutrients.

If your rose bush is large, try to cut more notches, especially if you notice it getting taller. 

Choose the Right Placement

When choosing the right place to notch, first find the nodes or bumps that signify a dormant rosebud. Cut an inch above the bump, or between two bumps.

Choose the place where you want to encourage growth, where you think it will be able to catch sunlight better and bloom properly. 

Mark the Spot and Wait

Mark the spot where you made a notch using twine or a ribbon. This will make tracking growth easier. Wait for a few months and observe its growth and how it's affecting the shrub or plant. 

How to Take Care of Rose Bushes

Roses are a relatively high-maintenance plant, so you need to make sure you allot time and resources to keep your roses healthy. Here are ways to properly take care of your rose bushes.

Choose the Perfect Spot

To avoid tall bushes in the first place, place your rose bushes in a sunny location. They should also be placed in already healthy soil, although you will still need to enhance it with nutrients after planting the rose bush. 

Of course, the perfect location still depends on how harsh the sunlight or coldness can be in your area.

If you live in an area with a hot climate, it is best to plant the bushes somewhere they can be partially shaded during the afternoon. 

Rose bushes located in areas with winters need to be planted in the south or west-facing fences to avoid frost damage.

Plant the Rose Shrub Properly

Of course, healthy soil and the perfect location will only get you so far if the roses aren't planted properly. Make sure that the shrub is planted deep enough, with adequate space to accommodate root growth. 

The soil also needs to be able to drain properly to prevent the roses from drowning in too much moisture. 

Read more: Can Rose Roots Damage Water And Gas Pipes?

Water adequately

Water the roses according to your climate and weather patterns. Roses in extremely hot weather need to be watered daily, while roses in mildly warm climates can thrive by being watered every 2-3 days. 

Make sure to water directly at the soil since that's where the roses will get their nutrients from. 

Read more here: How Much Water Do Roses Need? [Inc. Watering Techniques]

What Are the Different Types of Roses?

Roses can be categorized into three groups: Old garden roses, wild roses, and modern garden roses. 

Old Garden Roses

White dog roses in vintage green color metal old vase, planter, antique bronze frame, scissors on dark aged, weathered wooden background, golden ton candlestick, frame, clock, petals, floral scene

Old garden roses emit a strong scent, and they are hardier and more resistant to extreme weather patterns compared to other varieties. 

Wild Roses

Wild pink rose in nature

Wild roses only have a single bloom with 5 petals since they haven't been cross-bred which resulted in how we know roses today.

Modern Garden Roses

Beautiful blooming coral rose close up Part of petal

Modern garden roses have a larger bloom than old garden roses, although they share a resemblance. Although they have a longer vase life, they have a more subtle scent compared to old garden roses. 

Final Thoughts

Tall roses don't share the same charm that thick bushes have. So, if you want your rose bushes to elevate your garden's appeal consistently, you'll need to apply the best practices when caring for them.