Tips for Choosing and Growing local Roses
By Ken Lain, the mountain gardener
There is no better way to enjoy the romance of a garden than by growing roses. In recent years rose gardening has been given a bad rap, and, honestly, growing roses doesn’t have to be a challenge. Choose the right plants for your local garden and you’re half way to having a spectacular rose garden. Learn the basics of caring for roses and your gardens will be everything you’ve dreamed they would be.
There are 4 magic ‘ingredients’ for making your roses happy, and a thriving rose garden a reality.
#1 Soil – Roses prefer a soil pH ranging from 6.5 to 6.8. When improving the soil it is important to incorporate the appropriate soil amendments. It is essential to use ‘Soil Sulfur’ every spring and Watters acidifying ‘All Purpose Plant Food’ 7-4-4 every other month during the growing season. As roses need soils with good drainage, incorporating Watters ‘Premium Mulch’ into the planting hole guarantees best garden drainage as well as better blooms.
#2 Irrigation – Water requirements vary depending on the season and its conditions. For a good start deeply water rose bushes twice weekly. Monitor the health and vigor of your plants and adjust irrigation as conditions change. Roses need to breath between water cycles, so it is best to err on the dry side rather than keeping roses soaking wet. Older roses appreciate deep, once per week watering during the growing season. Add them to the irrigation system that takes care of your trees and they will be really happy. Morning water is best. Avoid late evening irrigation, which could foster powdery mildew.
#3 Spacing – Roses need to “breathe”, so don’t plant them too closely together. Grouping roses without sufficient space between them may foster powdery mildew. Follow spacing requirements for each particular variety when planting rosebushes. Planning to plant them with four-foot spacing is a good rule of thumb.
#4 Sun – Give your roses at least six hours of sunlight each day. If possible, let the morning provide the bulk of those six hours, since the afternoon sun can cause flowers to fade more quickly than the morning’s cooler exposure.
Which Rose Is Right For You?
Roses can be grown in any location, and there are sizes that accommodate any landscape environment. There are too many sub-varieties to show them all here, but this column has space for a list of the four major rose types. This will help you choose the right variety for your garden.
Bush Roses are the largest category. A familiar example of a bush rose is a hybrid tea, the most popular variety in the U.S. It is reliable, easy to care for, and new colors are introduced every year. Not as delicate as some rosebushes, they are good choices for first-time rose gardeners. Although this group has the largest individual flowers of all roses, the one drawback of some hybrid teas is their reduced fragrance.
Climbing Roses actually are misnamed because roses actually do not climb. Their long canes can be attached to supports such as trellises and arbors. There are two main types of climbers: Large climbers with thick canes that bloom all season like the Joseph’s Coat Rose, and the rambler with thinner canes and heavy clusters of flowers that cover the plant in early spring. A good example of a rambler is the Lady Banks Rose.
Shrub Roses are hardy and really easy to grow. They grow upright and have numerous canes that often are trimmed to create a sturdy hedge. They self prune and set new flower buds all by themselves, making shrub roses the perfect bushes for a hardy landscape. They can be a far more attractive deterrent to trespassing than a metal fence.
Groundcover Roses have a creeping habit. Their canes produce low-mounded plants. Much like the shrub rose they repeat bloom without care from their owners. Growing only knee high they make excellent colored accents to soften rock lawns, yet are small enough to enjoy in containers and raised bed gardens.
You have to stop in and smell the roses here at Watters. No other plant elicits such universal pleasure from people who enjoy flowers.
Until next issue, I’ll see you in the garden center.
Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at www.wattersgardencenter.com or Facebook page www.facebook.com/WattersGardenCenter .