8 Useful Tips To Water Roses

Tips To Water Roses

If you have roses growing in soil that is rich in organic matter, you will typically need to water them once a week during the growing season using approximately 2 gallons of water, ideally in the morning. However, in mild climates, it’s usually unnecessary to water roses during the winter months.

Type of RoseHow much water (in the growing season)How many times per week
Established Rose bushes2 Gallons (9 litres)1 watering per week
Large Climbing Roses4 Gallons (18 litres)1 watering per week
Newly Planted Roses2 Gallons (9 litres)3 or 4 times per week
Potted Roses2 Gallons (9 litres)1 or 2 times per week
Roses in Sand Soil2 Gallons (9 litres)1 or 2 times per week

The amount of water a rose plant requires and the frequency of watering will be influenced by various factors such as the soil quality, temperature, wind, rainfall, and how recently the rose was planted.

It’s important to understand how to water your roses effectively in different conditions, how to enhance their drought tolerance, how to determine whether your roses need watering when in doubt, and other useful tips related to watering roses. Continue reading to learn more.

Water Your Rose Once per Week in Normal Conditions

Typically, in the majority of temperate climates, roses should be watered once a week in both spring and summer. For optimal growth, it’s recommended to use a “soak and dry” method of watering since rose roots cannot tolerate consistently wet soil. As long as the roots receive sufficient water during a thorough soaking, a once-per-week watering frequency is suitable under normal sunny conditions.

Nevertheless, if any of the following conditions apply, you may need to increase the frequency of watering your roses:

  • If your garden is located in an extremely hot climate.
  • If the summer season is unusually hot and dry, with little or no rainfall.
  • If your garden is exposed to high winds.
  • If the soil in your garden is naturally sandy and drains water quickly.

During the hottest and driest weeks of summer, it may be necessary to increase the watering frequency of your roses to twice or even three times a week. If you notice drooping leaves or stems, this is often an indication of drought stress, and you should water the roses promptly.

In case your garden has naturally sandy soil that drains quickly, or if your roses are located in a windy and exposed area, you may need to water them twice a week, each time giving them a thorough and lengthy soak.

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If your garden soil is predominantly made up of clay, it may drain at a much slower rate. In such cases, you should water your roses only once a week, even during dry conditions, and incorporate organic matter into the soil to enhance its drainage properties. You can also refer to my article for helpful tips on growing roses successfully in clay soil.

During the late fall and winter months, your roses will become dormant.

During winter in temperate climates you will not need to water your rose until the following spring as your rose will not be actively growing and the soil is naturally more moist in winter.

If you live in a dry climate, watering your roses once a month during winter and then resuming the normal weekly watering routine when the weather warms up in the spring and the first leaves appear is generally sufficient.

However, this advice assumes that you have planted your roses in soil that has been enriched with an abundance of organic matter. This type of soil can retain moisture, allowing the roots to access it as needed, while also providing excellent drainage to prevent water from accumulating around the roots for prolonged periods, which can cause root rot.

For useful guidance on enhancing soil structure, please refer to my article on the most effective mulch for improving soil quality for roses.

If you reside in a dry or windy climate, the most suitable type of rose for your garden would be the Regosa species, which is the most resilient and drought-tolerant variety.

It’s essential to avoid making the following mistakes when watering your roses:

  • Don’t water your roses little and often throughout the week. This method only soaks the top inch or two of soil, which encourages shallow root growth. Shallow roots make the rose less stable during windy conditions.
  • Don’t overwater your roses. Frequent watering (several times a week) with excessive amounts of water can result in overly saturated soil, leading to root rot.

Watering your roses once a week, with a deep and thorough soaking, promotes deep root growth. This allows the roses to draw on moisture reserves deep within the soil, increasing their drought resistance.

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How to Tell if your Rose Needs Watering

During the hotter and drier periods of summer, it can be challenging to determine whether your roses require watering more than once per week. The most reliable method of determining your rose’s watering needs is to test the soil with your finger.

Insert your finger into the soil around the rose, as deeply as possible.

  • If the soil feels somewhat dry at the depth of your finger, and you can detect a slight amount of moisture, it’s an ideal time to water your roses.
  • If the soil is bone-dry, you should water the roses immediately.
  • If the soil still feels damp, it’s best to wait a few days before watering again.

Your soil should have a light texture to allow for this testing method. If your soil is compacted or has become hard due to sun exposure, you should apply mulch to your rose bed to improve soil structure and alleviate compaction.

How Much Water Your Rose Needs

To keep established roses of any variety healthy, a thorough soaking of at least 2 gallons (10 liters) of water per week is necessary. However, if you have a mature climbing rose, you may need to increase the watering amount to 4 gallons (20 liters) every time you water, depending on the soil type.

Potted roses also require 2-4 gallons of water during each watering. Potted roses have a smaller soil volume and may not benefit as much from rainfall. Additionally, the pots may heat up in the sun, leading to greater soil evaporation and causing the roses to dry out more quickly. Therefore, it’s essential to check the soil moisture of potted roses more frequently.

If you have several roses in your garden, using a hose with a spray attachment can save a significant amount of effort. It’s best to use a spray setting instead of a jet, as roses need to be watered slowly to ensure that the moisture is absorbed into the soil rather than running off the surface. Jets can also erode the soil around the rose.

Water the soil around your rose evenly and thoroughly, providing a good soak.

To prevent the spread of fungi like blackspot and powdery mildew, try to avoid watering the leaves of the roses as much as possible. Excessive moisture on the leaves can facilitate fungal growth.

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If the soil has been amended with sufficient organic matter to retain moisture, and the soil structure is light enough to allow for adequate drainage, it’s not necessary to measure water precisely. Just be sure to give the soil a thorough and even soak.

If your roses are planted in a garden with sandy soil, they may require additional watering, as rainfall and water can drain too quickly for the roots to absorb moisture adequately. However, adding more water alone will not solve the issue of rapid drainage. It’s crucial to amend the soil and make long-lasting changes. For more guidance on growing roses in sandy soils, please refer to my comprehensive guide.

Newly Planted Roses Need Watering Every Other Day

When you have just planted roses, they require more attention. If you planted a new rose during the spring or summer, you should water it with 2 gallons of water each day during hot weather for the initial 4 weeks. If the weather is overcast and soil evaporation is lower, you can water it every other day.

After 4 weeks, the roots should be more established, and you can reduce the watering to twice per week. Once the roots have fully established after 3 months, you can resume the standard watering cycle of one soak per week.

If you planted a rose during the fall or winter, soil evaporation will be lower, causing the soil to remain moist for an extended period. For the initial 4 weeks, only water the rose once every three days. In the spring, when the new season’s leaves are starting to emerge, water it once per week.

Watering Roses after Significant Rainfall

If there has been a significant amount of rainfall during the week, it may not be necessary to water your roses. If your soil contains organic matter and retains water well, you can skip watering your rose for the week if there has been more than 2 inches of rainfall in your region. Overwatering the rose when it has already received more than 2 inches of rainfall can be detrimental as it can lead to root rot.

Rose roots prefer a ‘soak and dry’ watering method. If the soil remains persistently wet rather than just moist, the roots can potentially rot.

If there has been less than 2 inches of rainfall within 7 days, you should water your roses as usual. While a weather forecast app can provide an estimate of rainfall, specific regions may have their own microclimate.

This is why I prefer to use a rain gauge in my garden. By doing so, I can accurately measure how much rainfall there has been during the week and adjust my rose watering schedule accordingly. Rain gauges are conveniently available at affordable prices on Amazon!

Soil gauge
Soil gauge that measures the soil pH, sunlight and soil moisture.

Early Morning is the Best Time to Water Roses

The optimal time to water roses is in the morning. Providing a thorough soak to your roses in the morning will provide them with sufficient water to withstand the hot summer day ahead.

While watering roses in the evening may not harm them, it’s not advisable. Watering your garden at night can create ideal damp conditions for slugs, snails, and other nocturnal pests to emerge under the cover of darkness and consume the leaves. Rose slugs are the most frequent culprit.

Watering your roses in the morning enables the water to soak deep into the soil, and as the day progresses, the soil’s surface becomes less damp, benefiting the rose while making the conditions less conducive for slugs.

Additionally, morning watering allows the rose foliage to dry off in the sunlight, which can help prevent the spread of the two most frequent rose fungi, powdery mildew, and blackspot. These fungi thrive in wet or humid conditions.

How to Conserve Water (Make Roses Drought Resistant)

Regularly applying mulch around your roses during the growing season will aid in retaining water in the soil, making it more resistant to drought.

Mulching is crucial for gardens with sandy, fine soils that tend to drain water quickly. The mulch aids in improving the soil’s ability to retain water long enough for the rose roots to absorb it.

Regardless of soil type, I highly recommend adding mulch around your roses once a year. Mulching provides numerous benefits to your roses.

  • During the hottest days of summer, direct sunlight can heat up the soil and cause it to dry out quickly. By placing a layer of mulch over the soil, the ground temperature significantly reduces, and the rate of evaporation slows down.
  • Organic mulch absorbs and retains water, acting like a sponge to maintain the correct soil moisture balance for the rose roots to draw upon as required.
  • High temperatures and persistent sunlight can result in soils becoming hard and baked, leading to water running off the top of the soil rather than penetrating deep towards the rose roots. Mulch helps to soften the soil texture and encourages rainfall or water to infiltrate the soil, preventing water runoff from the top, away from the rose roots.

Mulches such as compost, leaf mould, well rotted horse manure and grass clippings are ideal for retaining moisture in the soil around your roses, and among these, leaf mould is my preferred choice due to its excellent water retention capacity.

Moreover, mulches provide additional nutrients to the soil, help enhance soil structure, and create a healthy soil ecosystem, all of which contribute to the growth and well-being of your roses.

To protect your rose from moisture exposure, apply your preferred mulch to the soil with a depth of 2 inches, but ensure that you leave a 6-inch bare ground gap between the mulch and the rose canes.

The best time to apply the mulch is in early spring when temperatures are starting to increase, as this can boost the rose’s resistance to drought and high temperatures.

Don’t forget to check out my article on getting more blooms from your roses!


To ensure optimal growth and health of your roses during the growing season, it is recommended to water them with 2 gallons of water twice a week. Watering your roses in the morning is preferred as it provides them with enough water to face the hot day ahead.

During the establishment phase, newly planted roses require more water. In hotter weather, they may require up to 2 gallons of water daily, but under normal conditions, watering them every other day for about 4 weeks is sufficient for their roots to become established.

During the growing season, roses should be watered with at least 2 gallons of water twice a week, but this frequency may need to increase if the weather is hot, dry, or windy, or if the soil drains quickly.

If your garden has received more than 2 inches of rainfall within a week, then it is unnecessary to water your roses that week, as additional watering can cause the soil to become too wet.

Mulch is an important addition to any rose garden as it helps to retain moisture, improve soil structure, and provide nutrients.

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