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How To Revive Roses: 8 Vital Tips To Save Dying Bushes

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In This Guide:

  • Clean and rid your roses of pests and weeds
  • Pruning roses
  • Fertilizing roses
  • Checking soil’s ph level
  • Adding mulch
  • “Has my rosebush died?”
  • Glossary of terms
  • Wherever planted, roses add an elegance and sophistication few other flowering plants can muster. They’re undoubtedly a royalty among flora, hence they come with all the trappings and maintenance that human royalty may require – that is, much time, attention, cost, care, and nurturing.
  • Both literally and figuratively, all roses have thorns. There is, however, beauty in its fragility. That beauty is, surely, worth all the thorns.

How To Revive Roses?

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  • What can you do, then, if you notice that your roses are not as lively as they once were? They’re drooping, browning, displaying excessive growth, loss of color intensity or maybe even showing signs of death? Is it possible to save them?
  • As long as there is still life in the rosebush, you can rejuvenate them, but you must act quickly!

Like a doctor saving a patient on the brink, you need the right tools and know-how to bring life back into your roses! Below are the tools that you will need. Notice that there are basic items and advanced items.

Since we need to act with haste, the basic items are the most important ones – you may already have them and should be used first before you purchase the advance items.

The advanced items will be vital, though, if the condition of your roses have become very poor. If, after the basic treatment, your roses show signs of life, then the advanced items will be optional.

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  • Water
  • Thick gloves
  • Shovel
  • Hand rake
  • Pruning shears
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Damp cloth
  • Spray can with soapy water
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch
  • Bucket


  • Plant fungicide
  • Insecticide
  • Fertilizer with bonemeal
  • Bloom Boosters
  • Soil Test kit

Heads Up:

  • Always wear thick gloves to protect yourself from the thorns
  • Sterilize equipment before and after use.
  • To avoid black spots on their leaves, avoid watering above the rosebush
  • Always water plants first before applying fertilizer.

​When you’ve got your tools and equipment ready let’s get to reviving your roses. Whether it’s age or poor health due to neglect, we’ll have those roses back to their vibrant selves in no time!

Reviving Your Roses


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1. Determine if your roses are still getting enough sunlight. Otherwise, you may need to relocate them to a much sunnier location.

  • Roses need at least 6 hours of sun.
  • Take care to avoid damaging the plants’ roots during digging and transplanting.


2. Remove any debris on or around the base of your rosebushes.

  • Dead flowers and leaves must be removed to avoid rot and molds that can cause disease.
  • Weeds should be uprooted. You can do this by hand (use gloves) or with a hand rake, again taking care not to damage the plant or its roots.
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3. Check your roses signs of disease

  • Your roses may be sick if you see discolored/damaged leaves or bark, and spotted leaves.
  • Immediately remove these problem areas.
  • Advanced: treat these areas with a plant fungicide.

4. Remove Pests

  • Remove by hand and destroy any signs of insects (i.e. Aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, scales, insect eggs)
  • Gently wipe leaves with a damp cloth to remove cottony substances left by the pests.
  • If pests persist, consider spraying problem areas with soapy water (a dash of dish soap mixed with in 2 cups of water)
  • Advanced: Treat with an insecticide.
how to fix roses in a vase

5. Deadhead/prune old and dying canes

  • Sterilize your shears with rubbing alcohol.
  • Always cut above bud eyes and at a 45-degree angle.
  • Cut away old and diseased canes at the base.
  • Improve exposure to sunlight and air circulation by cutting away crisscrossing canes and some of the branches in the middle of the bush.
  • Deadhead your rosebush to encourage future blooming.
  • Shorten any suckers or weak canes.
  • In spring, cut back 1/3 of the bush to promote future growth

Improve plant and soil health

6. Water your roses consistently​

  • Note that roses need moist soil not soaked soil. Take care not to overwater your rosebush. Watering them for 10 minutes at 2-3 times a week will be best. Consider watering daily if the weather is very hot.
  • If possible, allow water to rest in a bucket until it’s at room temperature
how to revive roses in the garden

7. Enrich your soil

  • Improve air circulation by loosening the soil around the plant. If using a hand rake or pitchfork, take care not to damage plant or shallow roots
  • Use fertilizer specifically for rose to add nutrients to the soil. (e.g.: Organic)
  • Use a bloom booster to help your roses grow and thrive. A good bloom booster will improve the density, quality and health of your roses during the flowering stage. You can check this article for the seven best bloom boosters
  • Advanced: Use a Soil Ph Kit to test you soil’s ph levels. Roses grow best between ph levels of 6.0 and 7.0. Follow manufacturer’s directions whether raising or lowering ph levels. (e.g 3-in-1 Tester Meter & (e.g General Hydroponics )
how to revive roses in a pot

8. Add mulch

  • Apply a layer of mulch around the base of your rosebush around 1-3 inches thick.
  • Mulch prevents disease, keeps moisture in and adds nutrients the soil.
  • If weeds are problematic, place a layer of newspaper underneath the mulch to keep sunlight from reaching weeds or their seeds.

You’re now ready to save your beautiful roses from an untimely death! If properly cared for, they will add beauty to your garden and your life for many years. Sadly, at times it just may be too late and its time has come.

Has My Rosebush Died?

Don’t confuse a dead rosebush with a dormant rosebush, especially after winter. During the cold season, they may lose their leaves and blossoms and turn quite dark. Don’t give up on them just yet.

how to revive roses with drooping heads

Is it too late? Here are tests you can do:​

  • Look test
  • Check canes for any signs of life like swelling bud eyes or reddish bumps
  • Scratch test
  • Scratch darkened canes to look for any green (or life) underneath.
  • Root test
  • Carefully dig at the base of your rosebush to check its roots. Roots that are still alive are firm and light-colored.

Glossary Of Terms

Canes – branches or woody stems of plants

Bud eye –are the tiny fleshy bumps where a leaf attaches to the stem.

Deadhead – removing the dead flower of a plant

Suckers – Occurs in grafted plants. An offshoot of the original plant at the point where the grafted plant and the host plant meet. Termed “sucker” because they end up “sucking” the nutrients from the grafted plant.

Mulch – a layer of material placed on the surface of the soil to conserve moisture. Made up of a variety of material.