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GROWING ROSES

--- Anne K Moore May 1, 2009 ---
Photos by Anne K Moore ---

Roses are not easy.  They take at least 8 hours of sun to bloom prolifically.  They do not like soggy soil at all.  If you have clay, then raise up the planting bed and fill it with light, fast draining soil heavily enriched with compost or well-rotted manure.  Air circulation is their next growing need.  Good drainage and air circulation are keys to keeping mildew and black spot off your roses.

Plant roses in beds by themselves.  Mixing them in with a perennial border is not wise.  You, however, can use a ground cover around their base.  Ajuga stays low and will not compete for air space.

There are several classes of roses.  Hybrid teas are large bushes with long separate stems.  Floribundas are intermediate size, with the flower heads typically tightly clustered.  They are a cross between miniatures and hybrid teas.  Miniatures are just that, a tiny copy of the big bush.  Oso Easy Paprika is an easy-care orange and yellow miniature rose.

There is a slight difference, too, between climbing and pillar roses.  Climbing roses don't really climb; they are just exuberant growers, throwing out long canes willy-nilly.  You can fasten them easily, horizontally, along a fence.  In fact, if the long canes bend sideways in this way, they will send up more flowers along the stem than if they are allowed to grow straight up.

Pillar roses tend to grow straight up with long canes but shorter, stiffer canes than on a climber.  They are more suited to attaching to a column.  They do not appreciate bending along a fence.  They just keep trying to shoot upward.  Place the correct rose in the right growing area for the easiest maintenance.

You can get a very large, almost perfect rose on a hybrid tea's long stem, if you disbud the hybrid tea rose.  You disbud by removing all of the side buds.  This channels the energy into that one rose bud at the end of the stem.  Disbudding needs to be done before the end bud starts to mature.

Red is still the ultimate romantic hybrid tea rose.  'Veteran's Honor' has large, full, very deep red blossoms with a desirable high center.  This one performs well in heat and humidity.

Yellow roses are often difficult to grow into a proper flower.  'St. Patrick' shows off good yellow flower color.  'Gemini' is a very popular cr'me with a wide pink band.  The coral flowers of 'Timeless' have perfect rose form according to some Rosarians.

There are two types of old garden roses.  Old Dowager roses were introduced before 1867.  Anything introduced after 1867 is called a Heritage rose.  These old roses are often more hardy and require less care to keep them healthy than the more finicky new roses.

A hardy line of new English roses has been bred by David Austin to look old.  They are full petaled and sweet-scented.  William Shakespeare' 2000 has deep maroon flowers that mature to purple.  The flowers have so many petals they appear cone-shaped when they first open.

Remontant (repeat blooming) old roses are rarer than catalogs would suggest.  They might have some sporadic blooms throughout the summer, but nothing like the first flush in spring.  If you want rose color all season on a climber/pillar rose, look for the old-new again ‘Blaze’ which does rebloom with red abandon.

The new line of Knockout shrub roses is perfect landscape specimens.  These roses do bloom almost all season and mix in among other plants with very little resulting leaf problems.  If they are deadheaded (old blooms cut off), they will flush with more flowers much quicker than if left alone.  Nevertheless, deadheading is not necessary to keep these bushes blooming. 

Knockout roses work best as a garden subject.  Even the doubles are very loose and look better on the bush than in a vase.  Missing from these roses is that wonderful rose fragrance.

'Mermaid' is a shrub rose with white single flowers, huge gold stamens, and a rose scent.  This one easily grows to twelve feet tall and thirty feet wide, if given enough room and fertilizer.  It is a vigorous grower and is disease resistant.

If you live in USDA Zones 2 or 3, you will need to grow specially bred roses to survive the cold and snow cover you experience.  The Canadian Explorer series of roses is extra hardy, many down to zone 2.¬† 'Charles Albanel' is a red-lavender semi-double rose.  David Thompson is a rugosa rose with double pink, fragrant flowers.  'Morden Blush' is a Parkland series of Canadian rose with pale pink roses that fade to ivory.  It is a beauty.  All of these hardy roses are bred to survive cold winters with only a snow cover for protection.  Even if they die back in winter, they should grow back, since they grow from their own roots.

Roses do need more labor to keep them growing and blooming.  Control diseases quickly before they defoliate the bush.  Run water frequently to the roots.  Overhead watering is not recommended since it wets the foliage.  A drip system run along the ground is a much better way.  

Fertilize with a good fertilizer made especially for roses.  It should contain micronutrients the roses need for good health.  Prune bush roses in late winter just before the leaf buds start to open.  You should not prune climbers and pillars except to take out dead wood and to thin the canes.  The blossoms appear on old canes, at least one year old or older.  New, young growth will not produce flowers the first year.

You can continue to plant potted roses into late spring.  Bare root roses should go in the ground before the weather heats up.

Growing roses is not for the timid or lazy gardener.  Most are labor intensive.  A multitude of blooms, concentrated color, and intense fragrance are the rose rewards of selecting the right rose for your area and doing the work to keep them growing.  Given that extra effort, roses can thrive in almost any garden.

 

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