Growing Roses in Hot Weather?

July 27, 2006
Pink rose with bumble bee.


I live in the southwest and I have roses in my yard. They were doing good for a while then when the summer heat hits they really go numb. I was told to put coffee grounds and epsom salt on them, well I did this and now they are turning brown, the leaves are brown and yellow. They are on a drip watering system, so they get watered twice a day. What went wrong?

Hardiness Zone: 9b

Gayle from Queen Creek, AZ



The stress of late summer heat can certainly take a toll on roses, especially in your part of the country. You didn't mention exactly what was happening with your roses before adding coffee grounds and Epsom salt.

What often happens when the summer heat sets in is that some of the lower leaves on the bush turn yellow and drop off. This is actually normal, providing the discoloration is uniform and the affected leaves are confined to the lower part of the canes that are closest to the ground. These leaves are older and their loss shouldn't be cause for concern.

If the yellowing of the lower leaves becomes more widespread and the yellowing discoloration extends to canes beyond ground level, then you may be looking at a magnesium deficiency (often corrected by adding Epsom salt).

I'm not certain if your roses are suffering from Black Spot or not. Because the leaves started to turn brown AFTER you added the Epsom salt and coffee grounds, you may have temporarily tipped the pH balance too far in the other direction.


Most soils in Arizona tend toward the alkaline side of the pH scale. I would have yours tested before you add any more soil amendments.

For now, carefully flush the soil with water to dilute possible salts (water from the ground). If you think your bush has Black Spot, remove any affected leaves (dispose of in the garbage) and spray the remaining leaves with baking soda or a fungicidal soap every 7 to 10 days.

Browning leaves can also be caused by salt burn, sun and windburn. Constant drip irrigation may be causing a build up of the salts left behind as the water evaporates. Try giving your roses a long deep drink at least once per month to help flush away salts from the root zone. Applications of gypsum will also help to remove the salt from the root zone.


Would it be possible to offer your roses some afternoon shade during peak summer heat? (e.g. a potted tree, a sun umbrella or a temporary shade screen?) Avoid applying too much fertilizer during the hottest weather (1/2 strength is best in your summer climate) and apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch around the base to help keep moisture in and keep plants cool. Be sure to rake up all dropped leaves in the fall to prevent the possibility of Black Spot spores overwintering in the soil.



July 27, 20060 found this helpful

Here in SE Idaho, I put coffee grounds on my roses with no problems - they LOVE the acid in these leftovers. I wonder if the epsom salts are what is causing the browning?


I hope you can figure it out and salvage the roses.

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July 27, 20060 found this helpful

I should have posted this all together, but here's a link I found about this very issue:

Read down a bit and get into the part about how much to use. GL!

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July 28, 20060 found this helpful

Roses need to be watered from the bottom and take care the leaves are not gotten wet. This will cause the black spots.

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By darrellg in Oklahoma (Guest Post)
July 28, 20060 found this helpful

my brother was keeping his onion sets in coffee grounds and they kept dying & he couldn't figure out why until it dawned on him that, they always put table salt in their coffee before brewing. After they quit that they quit dying. If you do the same that might explain why your roses are dying. Table salt & epsom salts are not the same.

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By Lynda. (Guest Post)
August 3, 20060 found this helpful

Believe it or not, depending upon the variety of rose, I have seen 30 yr. old rose bushes flourishing
in vacant parking lot beds, neglected all to heck.


However, in your case, I'd be willing to bet money
that your drip feeder isn't calibrated to suit the rose
bush. They are deep rooted and prefer a good once a week big drench over the drip, drip, drip which is likely to encourage Black Spot. I hear stories all the time about "How lovely Granny's Rose bush outside the back door was, because she always tossed her dishwashing water onto it at night." If this information is true, it means the roses prefer more alkaline water? And it blows the idea of only weekly deep watering, which still works for my 10 yr. Tea Rose.

Unlike most plants, many roses are more tempermental when it comes to water and drainage, which is my second guess. If it isn't too late I'd try spraying top/bottom of all leaves and stems in the evening with baking soda/water mixture, after picking off all yellowing leaves carefully, bagging and tossing, then washing your hands before touching any other branches. I'd then crush with a hammer about 10 briquettes of old fashioned charcoal in a thick plastic bag with 2 lbs. playbox sand or coarser, and use a hand spade to mix into the soil about 6 " from main stems, along with a little baking soda water (perhaps 1/4 cup to 1 qt. of water?) for washing it in. If this seems to help the bush, and new growth leaves stop turning yellow after a week or so, I'd spray the leaves in the evening with a 1/4 bottlecap of liquid Sea Kelp (Lowe's garden area or Gardens' Alive) to 1/2 gal.


of water for an extra boost during it's stress. (Sea Kelp is the ONLY thing I can get to almost overnight perk up and green up my shade-loving shrubs planted at the base of tall trees that suck all the area's nutrients out of the soil, leaving everything else to fend for itself, [still another possibility for your rose, that it might be planted too close to a hungry tree?] .)

Remember that Black Spot THRIVES in still air
so check that also, in case your rose has poor air circulation or overcrowding from anything like other shrubs, walls, fences that might hinder fresh air flow. Some varieties prefer to grow alone.

I add chopped banana peelings about twice a month, and peanut shells, BUT if they sit on top of the ground they can cause fungus and mildew, so if you try this turn them under but about 8-10" from the main trunk.

If you add Epsom Salts, just mix only about 1/3 cup to a gallon of water, which seems to be about right, AND I only do this twice a year..Early Spring around Feb. when they're hungriest and at the ONLY time I prune all dead wood and unwanted stems, leaving only about three main trunk stems, and also applying in Late Summer (now), although the last application may not truly be utilized by the bush. Good luck and God bless.

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By Narelle (Guest Post)
February 1, 20090 found this helpful

We have planted some very hardy roses this winter which did extremely well. However we have had 40 degree days and have nearly lost all of them. We covered them with shade cloth an umbrellas and kept the water up to them. we live about 1 km from the beach and was wondering if this also effects them. However our other roses in other beds have not suffered so badly. Any ideas?

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