When to Water Roses: All Rose Watering Questions [Answered]

Watering roses sounds like it might be complex, in fact, a little scary as you don’t want to ruin your prized roses! So when to water roses? And from that comes a plethora of other questions.

So I’m going to go through all the questions regarding watering roses in this article. With a summary to start with…

You should aim for at least 1 to 2 inches of water per rose bush twice per week. Starting from early Spring after the last frost, and gradually increasing to watering every 3 to 4 days as the weather gets warmer and the roses show signs of approaching bloom. Avoid watering in full sunshine.

When to water roses

Here’s my handy quick reference table as a rough and general guide…

SeasonGrowth StageDays p/wkQuantity
SpringFast growth2 – 31 – 2 inches
SummerBlooming3 – 41 – 2 inches
FallDying back21 inch
quick reference table on when to water roses

That’s the quick answer to get you off and started. But as usual with these kinds of subjects, it often raises more questions than it answers! So let’s go through the whole heap of questions that I get asked.

Do you water roses every day?

The really big question is do you need to water your roses daily? The answer is no, you don’t have to water your roses every day. In fact, it’s best not to water them every day because this can actually do more harm than good.

Watering roses daily can lead to overwatering …which I’ll come to shortly. Suffice it to say it’s about striking a balance between too much and too little water.

watering roses

So how often do you need to water your roses then?

A good rule of thumb is to water your roses every 3 to 4 days as the weather becomes hotter. This will ensure that they get a good soaking without becoming waterlogged. The best time to water roses is in the morning.

Use the recent weather as a gauge

Of course, once a week in early spring, then rising to 2 to 4 times a week in hot weather is largely an average. So you need to take the weather into account.

There will be times when you need to water more or less frequently. For example, if it’s been particularly hot and dry, then you may need to water your roses every other day. And perhaps a light sprinkling late evening in more arid climates.

On the other hand, if it’s been raining a lot, then you can cut back on watering.

Remember that too much water can be just as harmful as too little. Waterlogged soil can lead to fungal diseases, roses don’t like wet feet. So make sure the soil drains well and that you don’t leave your roses sitting in a puddle.

How often you will need to water newly-planted roses

When it comes to newly planted roses, water them every day for the first week, then 2-3 times a week for the second week.

After that, you can ease back to watering once a week.

If you’re growing roses in pots, then you’ll need to water them more often than if they’re in the ground. More on watering roes in containers shortly too.

When to start watering roses?

You should start watering your roses as soon as they’re planted. Or, for already planted roses start watering after the last frost or the last coldest few nights.

If you live in an area with a lot of rainfall, you may not need to water them at all until the drier season comes.

How to tell if your roses need watering

The best way to tell if your roses need watering is to simply stick your finger in the soil. If it feels dry about an inch below the surface, then it’s time to water. But, if the soil is still moist, then you can wait a bit longer – check again the next day.

Don’t forget, it’s likely you’ve got a layer of mulch around your roses anyway which will help to retain some of the moisture. So this should never really be urgent … unless it’s been a week in hot weather since they last had some water!

How much water do roses need?

How much water your roses need will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of rose, the climate, the time of year, and whether the plant is in a pot or in the ground.

So what time of day? And how much do roses need per day?

Ideally, watering in the morning is best so that the leaves have time to dry before nightfall. This reduces the chances of disease and allows the plant to absorb moisture and nutrients before the hot sun evaporates them.

How much water roses need will also depend on a number of factors. If I had to give it a firm general rule, they should be watered deeply and thoroughly at least once (possibly twice) per week. And when watering, aim for 1 – 2 inches of water per roset. This is a safe rule of thumb to work by.

How much is 1 to 2 inches of water?

That’s a fair question… Here’s what I do.

Often, through frequent watering, the ground around the base of the roses will bevel inwards in the form of a bowl. If it hasn’t then, try to work towards this effect.

The bowl provides a natural puddle. When this puddle starts to form then that’s one inch. Repeat a few minutes later until a second puddle begins to form, that’s the second inch.

watering roses

Should you water roses after pruning?

Yes, you should water roses after pruning them. This will help encourage new growth and prevent the plant from going into shock.

Can you water roses at night?

A light sprinkling early evening when the sun goes down can help when the weather is particularly hot. But it’s not ideal to water roses at night since the leaves will stay wet for several hours, which can increase the chances of disease.

However, if you must water at night, then try to do so early enough that the leaves have time to dry off before nightfall.

If you’re in a humid climate, then you shouldn’t really need to water at night anyway as the humidity will help keep them moist.

As a side note, I find too that watering my roses and other plants in the morning is a great way to take a moment out, and spend some time doing something utterly relaxing in the morning before the madness of the day sets in. what better start can you get than staring at rose bushes!

Watering roses in hot weather

Hot weather is when your roses will need the most water. And during a heatwave, you may need to water your roses every day. But watering roses (in fact any plant) in the full heat of the day is not ideal as the water will just evaporate before it has time to sink in and be of any use to the plant.

But not only that, it can cause water droplets to form on the leaves which can then act as a lens and magnify the sun’s rays, scorching the leaves.

If it’s hot in your area, and windy, then the wind will speed up the evaporation of any water. Plus it will dry the plant out more quickly. So, in this instance, it may be best to water in the morning and possibly in the early evening when it’s cooler the plant has a chance to use the moisture.

If you’re away from home during hot weather and your roses are looking sorry for themselves, then give them a good soaking before you go. This will help to keep them hydrated for a few days.

But on your return, check the soil around the roses and give them a good soaking if it’s dry.

So remember, the best time to water your roses in hot weather is in the early morning, or if you missed that slot, then the evening when the sun isn’t so strong.

Read my full post about watering roses in hot weather for more guidance.

watering roses in hot weather

Can you water roses too much?

Yes, it’s possible to overwater roses. Signs that your plant has been overwatered include:

  • The leaves turn yellow and then brown before dropping off
  • Mushy, dark green leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Roses that are prone to powdery mildew may get more of the fungus if they’re overwatered

If you think you’ve overwatered your roses, stop watering them for a short while, you will need to check the soil before watering again. This could be up to 5 or 6 days if they really look drowned.

Again, if the top layer of soil is dry then give them a drink, if not, leave them be until the soil dries out.

More roses in your rose bed also help, as they will help draw water from the soil, making it available to other roses that may be struggling a bit. So they’ll share it around a bit as they need it.

Do you water rose bushes?

What I’m discussing here mostly concerns watering rose bushes. So…

No, it’s not necessary to water rose bushes every day. Water them about 1 to 2 inches about once a week, or whenever the soil feels dry about an inch below the surface. Mulching with organic matter will help conserve moisture.

Do you water Climbing roses? And if so when? How much?

Climbing roses are a different story. They are usually thirstier than bush varieties, so you will need to water them more often. But it just means they will drink it faster, so the same rule of thumb applies. Water climbing roses about 2 times a week or whenever the soil feels dry.

You might find that you need to water your climbing roses more often than your rose bushes, and almost certainly more often in hot weather.

Watering roses in pots

In general, potted roses will need watering every couple of days during the growing season.

Potted roses need to be watered more often than ones in the ground as they dry out faster. The size of the pot will also

Roses in pots need to be watered more frequently than those in the ground since they have less access to moisture.

Check the soil daily, and water it whenever it feels dry an inch below the surface. It’s a good idea to use a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering.

potted rose

Watering roses before and after repotting

Watering a rose before removing it from the pot is good practice. It just makes it easier to take out of the pot. leave it to drain while you work on its new pot.

With the new pot, you may need to scrape away any existing soil in there ready for use.

Hold the rose in place above the soil in the new container without crushing any roots at the bottom.

take a gauge on whether to add any more soil in order to support the rose enough that the graft union is a couple of inches below the soil level. The graft union is a large swelling between the rose stems and the roots.

Spread the roots around gently and evenly and fill in with additional dirt until they are at the proper height. Keep the final level of soil 1 to 2 inches from the lip of the container.

Give the rose one last, thorough watering. It’s possible that the extra dirt has settled. If needed, add more and moisten it as necessary.

Watering roses indoors

If you’re growing roses indoors, then they’ll need watering every few days. Let the soil dry out a bit between watering. This is because there is no natural rainfall or humidity to keep the soil moist.

And also, when they’re in pots, they need more water as the roots can’t go deep into the ground to find moisture like they would if they were in the garden.

People often grow miniature roses indoors. There is generally less natural air moisture indoors, so again they may need watering more regularly. Check the soil, if it’s dry then you may have a thirsty little rose!

Do you water roses in Winter?

snow on rose

In general, you won’t need to water your roses as much in winter as they’ll be dormant. Check the soil before watering to make sure it’s not too wet or dry.

In winter, the ground is usually frozen so you don’t have to water as much. But if it’s a particularly mild winter, then you may need to water them occasionally …just to keep a little moisture in the ground.

Do you water roses in the Fall?

You won’t need to water your roses as much in the fall as the weather cools down and they start to go dormant. If you see only rose hips on the rose bush, then there is really no need to water them.

However, if you live in an area with little rainfall, you might still need to water them every week or so.

wild roses in fall
wild roses in fall

When to water knock Out® roses

Knock Out® roses are so popular. If you haven’t grown them yet then here’s a selection you might want to try.

For knock Out® roses, the process is largely the same as for other types of roses.

Water knockout® roses around the base of the plant one to two times per week with around 1 to 2 inches of water in moderate weather. Water more regularly in summer, and less during mild winters. Water until a small puddle appears, pause to allow it to drain, and then repeat.

Do you water roses before or after adding fertilizer?

For roses, water lightly before adding fertilizer, and water well after applying fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer lightly and evenly around the plant, avoiding areas too close to the rose base. Then rake in the fertilizer, Watering the roses afterward helps the fertilizer to sink into the soil

You could try to apply fertilizer just before you’re expecting rain, as this will also naturally do the watering task for you.

It’s a good rule of thumb to apply fertilizer every 2 to 3 weeks during the main growing season.

I use this fertilizer Miracle Gro Rose Plant Food easily available on Amazon.

Methods of watering roses

I usually use my trusty watering can to water the base of the roses. You just have to make sure you apply water slowly enough that it doesn’t just run off, and enough of it to soak to a depth of about 1 foot. That’s not always easy to gauge …so use your best estimate.

Drip irrigation for roses

Other methods include drip irrigation which is great at applying the water on a constant drip around the base of the rose. Something like this drip irrigation kit works well for roses and has everything you need.

Soaker hoses for roses

Also, soaker hoses are another option. But you might find they will wet the lower leaves of the rose which might lead to diseases like powdery mildew.

There are many methods of watering roses. One of the best is drip irrigation, which applies water very slowly at the base of the plant. Soaker hoses tend to do the same but at times wet the lower leaves, depending on water pressure.

Overhead sprinkling for roses

Sprinklers tend to wet the plant’s leaves and canes and can just leave them moist, which then promotes diseases like black spot. If you must use overhead sprinklers, then get in the habit of watering them in the morning to give the foliage chance to dry when the heat of the sun comes around.

When to water roses ~ More roses help

However or whenever you choose to water your roses, the golden rule really is to apply some common sense and use your senses to gauge what is too much, or too little. and What times work best.

In general, more frequent, but lighter watering is better than one long soak per week.

I hope this has helped to give you some understanding and guidelines on when to water roses. Be sure to check out my other articles, and happy rose watering.

michael - rosehow

Hi, I’m Michael. My passion for roses was sparked a few years ago after visiting a dedicated community rose garden. So Rosehow.com represents my take, my learnings, and my help for anyone looking to grow, be proud of, and harvest roses.