Tagawa Gardens Blog

Why should you grow roses in Colorado? Because they love it here!

Let us show you how to love them back with these basic planting tips and techniques.

It’s a shame that growing roses intimidates a lot of gardeners.  These beautiful flowers aren’t the divas you might think!  Sure, they have a few likes and dislikes, but don’t we all?!

There are thousands of beautiful roses to choose from at Tagawa Gardens every spring.  Our annual Night of Wine and Roses on the third Friday of April is when they debut.  So if you’ve been timid about trying roses in the past, now is the time to be bold!

Growing Roses, Denver, Colorado, Tagawa Gardens

Match the rose to the location and the location to the rose.

Roses need sun…. at least six hours of sun every day.  There’s no way around that.  Too little sunlight will mean smaller and fewer flowers, and quite possibly a weak plant that’s an easy target for insects and disease.

Some strains of roses are tougher than others.  Shrub roses, for example, can perform well in more challenging conditions while the hybrid teas do best with a bit of pampering.  And while roses can be thirstier than some other garden plants, none of them wants to sit in low-lying soil that stays soggy.

Feel free to take pictures of your yard and share those with the staff in our rose department.  They’ll be happy to help guide you toward the plants that are best suited for your location.

First stop for your new rose: training camp!

Roses from Tagawa Gardens get lots of T.L.C. from our staff as they’re growing up.    But life in our garden center and life in the real world of your yard are very different, so toughen them up gradually before you plant them.  It’s called “hardening off” or “acclimating” your plant.

Any and all landscape plants that have been growing indoors should be hardened off over the course of six to eight days before they go in the ground.  Introduce them to their new world gently, leaving them in an area sheltered from sun and wind for three or four days.  Gradually expose them to more “real world” conditions over the next few days.  This training will help ease the transition into their new outdoor home.  It can make a huge difference in how well the plants adapt and begin to thrive.

Tagawa Gardens, Nature's Yield CompostThe perfect planting hole

Ideally, the planting hole for your new rose should be three times wider and a few inches deeper than the pot it’s been growing in.  Tagawa Gardens recommends that roses be planted three inches deeper than they were growing in their nursery pot.  This will give winter protection to the temperature-sensitive “bud union” on grafted roses.

Refill the planting hole with a mixture of compost and soil.  One-third compost to two-thirds soil is good for clay soil.  In sandy soils, use a mixture of 50/50 compost to original soil.  Tagawa Gardens highly recommends Nature’s Yield compost to help your new roses thrive.

Here comes the tough part….

No doubt you bought your rose from Tagawa Gardens because of the promise of beautiful flowers.  But before you get the flowers, you have to invest in the roots.  That means your rose bush is going to need a hard pruning when you plant it.

So, take a deep breath, grab your clean, sharp pruners and cut back half of the plant’s top growth.  Ouch!  I know.  But by removing a good portion of the top growth immediately, you’re channeling the plant’s energy into its root system.  That will pay off big time in the weeks to come.  A deep, healthy root system will make for a stronger more beautiful plant in the long run.

First season: Water? Yes! Fertilizer? No!

Fertilizer stimulates lush top growth.  But that’s not our priority for our rose bush’s first season.  Again, our focus year #1 is the roots, so hold off on the fertilizer ‘til next year.

Concentrate on deep watering your rose.  These plants routinely need up to three inches of water a week.  Water your rose thoroughly when you first plant it, and then deeply, but less frequently after that.

Insert a trowel just outside the root system to create a narrow opening where you can reach into the soil to make sure you’re getting enough water down to the deepest roots.

A three-inch layer of bark mulch over the rose’s root system will help to conserve moisture and keep weeds at bay.

And will there be bugs? Perhaps.

Aphids are one of the most common insects that like to feed on roses.  They can easily be washed off with a strong jet of water every few days.  But you’ll need to pay attention.  Aphids love tender new growth, and roses are one of their favorites.

If insects become a serious issue, Tagawa Gardens recommends using products with neem oil to smother the unwelcome guests.  Neem is an organic-based pesticide, and can also help prevent certain plant diseases. Always read the label before using any pesticide–no matter if organic or traditional, any pesticide can be dangerous if not applied as per label instructions.

So no more excuses!

Roses love our bright Colorado sunlight and lower humidity.  With the guidelines we’ve laid out for you, and the more than 200 varieties of roses Tagawa Gardens offers as each season begins, you can bet there’s a rose that belongs in your garden.

Tagawa Gardens is Growing Your Rose Plants!

Ever wonder how Tagawa Gardens grows your rose bushes? Garden Ambassador Luan Akin and Rose Dept. Supervisor, Tom, show you behind the scenes how our roses grow, from planting to our Night of Wine and Roses, when they’re first available for purchase!

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Luan Akin
Luan Akin
Tagawa Gardens Outreach Ambassador

After 30 years as a news reporter for KCNC TV in Denver, Luan Akin was ready for a change. In 2008, she came to Tagawa Gardens and offered to create a brand new position: Garden Outreach Ambassador.

Luan had trained and volunteered as a Douglas County Master Gardener for ten years. In addition to her duties as a news reporter, working primarily out of the Channel 4 News helicopter, Luan also produced and presented a long-running series of stories called “Gardening Together.”

All these years later, Luan now works year ‘round, presenting a variety of gardening and nature-related topics to hundreds of children, HOA’s, gardening clubs, church groups, small businesses and other organizations.

She is an avid gardener, a beekeeper and a proud mom to four dogs who have trained her well.


  1. Carol

    April 15, 2016 - 1:45 am

    Question… What do i do if I neglected to trim the roses before winter set in? We just moved to our new house and the prior owner had beautiful roses planted in the front yard. I was so busy unpacking and moving in that I didn’t trim the roses back like the neighbors said to do. I do not have a green thumb. I don’t want to lose the beauty of the front yard that first attracted me to the house. Can I save them?

    • Luan Akin

      Luan Akin

      May 9, 2016 - 4:51 pm

      Thanks for your question and we apologize for the delay in responding! Actually right about now (early May) is still fine for pruning back your roses in the spring. We recommend waiting till there is a little bit of new growth on the roses in the spring before cutting them back, so that you can see what has died over the winter and needs to be removed. The only pruning that should be done in the fall is any branches that are broken or very tall and might break under the weight of the snow. If you have further questions, you may contact our Rose Supervisor, Tom, at Tom@TagawaGardens.com thanks! Sincerely, Beth Z., Tagawa’s manager.

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