Roses are not the easiest plants to grow, but they are one of the most satisfying. Whether you enjoy them in the garden or cut them for indoors, watching a rose open petal-by-petal and smelling its sweet fragrance is a true delight for any gardener. Volumes have been written on the types of roses and how to grow them. Following are basic instructions for growing roses in a temperate garden. They are not that easy, but they’re not that difficult either!
1. Choose your rose plants carefully.
With hundreds of varieties to choose from, how do you decide which roses to grow? Only grow roses that thrive in your climate. Reputable nurseries and your cooperative extension service should be able to give you a list. You also have to consider where you want to plant your rose. Most roses need five to six hours of sun daily, but certain varieties can do with less. And some roses are more tolerate of wind or sand than others. Of course, there are many types of roses, so you need to decide if you want a climber, hybrid tea, rugosa, floribunda, miniature, or shrub rose. Then, buy the best quality plant you can find and afford.
2.Plant roses in fall or early spring.
Except for container grown and miniature roses, the best time to plant is when the plant is dormant, that is, before the leaves are fully out.
Dig individual holes about 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide, wide enough for the natural spread of the roots. Prepare a mixture of equal parts compost, cow manure, and soil. Mound some soil mix in the hole and place the bush so the level of the soil is at or slightly above the bud union. Fill in around the plants, firm the soil, and water well.
Newly planted roses need a great deal of water; don’t let them dry out.
3. Watch for insects and diseases on your roses.
The best way to address rose pests and diseases is to prevent them, and the best way to prevent them is to keep your rose bushes strong and healthy. Fertilize and water properly. Try to water the ground rather than the leaves. Prune the bushes to improve air circulation, which helps prevent fungal diseases. Remove old and weak leaves and stems. Keep close watch for insects and diseases so you can nip any problems in the bud before they spread.
4. Prune and fertilize roses accordingly.
The best pruning technique differs according to the type of rose. In general, your goal is to remove spent flowers, dead wood, and old and unproductive canes.
Before you start fertilizing, it’s a good idea to take a soil sample to your extension service for testing. The soil test results will tell you what you need to add to the soil to grow great roses. In most areas you should fertilize two weeks after the last killing frost and then in the middle of July.
Want to learn more about growing roses?
This brief summary of rose care hardly does the topic justice, especially since rose culture differs significantly by climate and location. Before you start your rose garden take the time to read a book on roses and explore the following websites.
How to Grow and Care for Rose Bushes
by the Gardener’s Network.
Ask questions about rose growing at the American Rose Society website.
Get more info about growing roses from Our Rose Garden from the University of Illinois Extension.
Lynne Lamstein gardens in Maine and Florida and is currently working on a sustainable landscape. She has a degree in ornamental horticulture from Temple University.