Q. What can I do now to care for my established roses?
A. There are several things you can do in April to prepare your roses for a new growing season. Soil and mulch that were used for winter protection should be removed in April. Carefully remove the soil covering the base of the roses. This soil may be used in the vegetable garden or in other planting beds. Use a fine spray of water to remove the remaining soil from the stems and emerging leaves. The old mulch should be replaced with new mulch, taking care to leave about a 6-inch area surrounding the roses. Established roses need approximately 1 inch of water per week during the growing season. This is often provided by spring showers, but if there is not a sufficient amount of rainfall, supplement. Do not water unless the soil is dry; too much water will suffocate the roots. Apply a general-purpose fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or 12-12-1—either water-soluble, a dry granular such as 10-10-10, or a slow-release formulation, following label directions carefully. Finally, remove any stems that have died back from winter injury or canker diseases, as well as any crossing branches or branches that you wish to remove to shorten the plant.