October 15, 2023

Rose bush in bloom in rocky garden bed

Knowing when and how frequently to water roses can be tricky, especially if you’re new in this scene. We’ve heard many stories of plants dying from improper watering. If it’s not too much, then it’s too little. So, that’s what we’re going to cover in this article.

But before knowing the exact “when,” note that there are factors to consider. There’s no exact frequency or schedule for watering roses. It all depends on the current environment and condition of your plant.

Factors to Consider When Watering Roses

Before you water your roses, check the following conditions first.

Weather or Season

The weather or season highly influences the frequency of watering your roses. During the hot summer days, your plant loses moisture faster because of high temperatures. Therefore, it’ll need more frequent watering – most likely twice a week. The case is reversed when there’s plenty of rain or the season is cold, as the soil remains moist for a longer time. You’ll need to skip some watering days because your plant won’t need it. Hence, being mindful of the weather conditions helps you decide whether it’s time to water.

Soil Type

Different soil types hold moisture at different capacities. If your roses are planted in more sandy soils, they’ll need more frequent watering than in clayey soils. Observing how fast the soil drains water will help you determine the watering frequency. If it drains water quickly, expect you’ll need to water again in a few days. But if the soil retains water well, you can water less often. However, be careful not to use compact soils that easily become waterlogged. The ideal soil type for Roses is loam soil because it drains pretty well but has high water retention.

Plant Age

Younger Rose plants will need less amount of water than mature ones. However, in terms of frequency, young roses will require more frequent watering because they don’t have an established root system yet. They need a readily available source of moisture because their roots are limited and won’t be able to go as far down to the soil. Newly planted roses will need water every two to three days. Established roses will only need water once or twice per week.


While most roses are moderate to heavy drinkers, there are drought-tolerant varieties that can survive in arid climates. You’ve got to check if yours is one of them. Drought-tolerant roses will require less watering because they can withstand dry conditions. Obviously, you’ll need to adjust the watering treatment of these varieties and not water them as frequently as with the roses that need a regular drink. You may like to check out our feature article on Rose Varieties click here....

Signs that My Roses Need Water or Not

Of course, aside from the considerations above, it’s also quite important that you know how to read your roses. Like other plants, your roses will show telltale signs of stress from overwatering or under watering.

Plump, Leaves Remain Green

Plump leaves indicate that your roses receive just enough moisture. Remember that water is responsible for maintaining cell turgidity. It also ensures efficient absorption and distribution of nutrients from the soil and aids in photosynthesis and other metabolic processes. A well-watered Rose plant is a healthy plant. So, your goal is to keep the leaves turgid through regular watering.

Wilting, Leaves Drying

Leaves that curl up need more water. When plants lack water, the cells, tissues, and organs lose turgidity, causing them to wilt and shrink. Curling up is also their attempt to minimize surface area and save moisture by reducing transpiration rate. Eventually, the whole plant wilts and some leaves will dry if you fail to give enough water. So, when you see early signs of wilting, give your roses a deep drink immediately to perk them up again. If you take too long, the whole plant may end up drying and beyond recovery.

Drooping, Leaves Yellowing and Mushy

Droopy leaves are common signs that your plants have absorbed too much water. But when they turn yellow and mushy, the roots already suffer from root rot – which is a more serious case. Root rot happens when the soil is always soggy, leaving no room for enough oxygen. Excess water can drown and kill the roots of your roses. Thus, it limits the capacity of the entire root system to absorb water and nutrients for the plant to utilize. Holding off water for a couple of days will help in such a case. In severe conditions, repotting is necessary to prevent further root rotting.

Tips for Correct Watering

Proper watering will help reduce potential problems in the future. Implementing the right techniques is best so your roses will benefit from the moisture you provide.

Water Deeply

Slow, deep watering is a technique that helps the roses develop an extensive root system. Rather than watering on the surface, allow water to drip below 18 inches deep. Ideally, the water should reach the entire root system. You can use a soaker hose or drip irrigation.

Water the Soil, Not the Foliage

Some gardeners think that if they water the foliage and leave them soaking wet, that's it. Well, there are better ways to do it. Instead of splashing water on the leaves, pour water directly into the soil close to the base of the plant. Extend it to cover the surface above the root zone. Refrain from overhead watering as it can lead to the development of fungal diseases.

Keep the Soil Moist (Not Soggy or Dry)

The goal of watering is to provide moisture to the roses consistently. Avoid turning the soil soggy or letting it go completely dry. Both cases bring stress to the roots. If unsure, you can do the finger test. Insert your finger into the soil to see if the top two inches are dry. If yes, that's your signal to water the Rose again. But if it’s still moist, it's better to hold off watering and wait a little longer.

Final Thought

While it takes wisdom to understand how often your roses will need water, applying the above mentioned suggestions will make the task easier. Always be mindful of how your plant responds to the environment and adjust watering when necessary. Once you master the right technique, your roses will then be happy.

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