NOTE: see all the other posts this week beginning 5/13/12 for uses, recipes and Rose lore.
Roses are probably the most misunderstood and undervalued plants in the modern landscape. Most people seem to believe that all garden roses are troublesome, frail plants that need to be pampered and fussed over with weekly sprays and frequent fertilizing. While this can be true for the devoted, exhibitor, it simply does not have to be the case for the average gardener like myself who likes to look at pretty flowers. I grow over 400 roses of all types in my garden with an absolute minimum of fuss. Most of the time is actually spent cutting roses for friends, family and people just walking through the garden.
What often makes Roses so intindating to growers is the number of styles. So here is an overview of the types of Roses so you can decise what type is best for you and your gardening style.
Hybrid Teas: This is the flower that everyone pictures when we think about what a rose should look like. The classic spiral centre and individual long stem make this the most popular of the rose classes. The modern hybrid tea can be an excellent garden plant, as breeders are concentrating on improving disease resistance and overall garden performance. Many people believe that fragrance has been bred out of the modern rose, but there are many excellent tea roses with strong perfumes and more being introduced each year. Rose breeders realize that people still want fragrance in their gardens. Hybrid Teas are great for the formal garden, but should not be limited to this use. If you don't want be bothered with fussing about roses, be sure to seek the advice of an experienced rose grower who can advise you on the healthy and hardy varieties for your climate.
Climbing Roses: The modern climber is usually a repeat bloomer and grows around 10 to 12 feet tall or wide. There are so many different types available that it's hard to describe them in one paragraph. The older heirloom climbers tend to bloom only once, but the quality and abundance if often stunning, these older single bloom climbers are the ones old recipes are based on so they are good to choose for rose cosmetics and food.
Floribundas: Commonly called cluster flowered roses. These come in many shapes and colours. Like the Hybrid Teas, many varieties have excellent perfume, combined with unmatched flower power. Bloom shape can be ruffled and informal or high centered like the HTs. Floribundas are generally considered to be excellent landscape plants, providing bloom from June to Hard Frost. Most varieties grow from 2 to 4 feet tall, but there are a few large ones in this class, (the Americans call the big ones Grandifloras). Several modern varieties are capable of having over 50 blooms at the same time, with only a short rest in between the repeat cycle. If you're looking for roses that are well mannered and provide armloads of cut flowers, try planting a few floribundas.
Old Garden and Shrub roses: These two classes are roses are separate from one another but have similar growth habits. The shrub rose are without question the most underrated plant in the landscape. It's a shame that more people haven't taken the time to familiarize themselves with this group of plants. Shrub roses are a huge part of the rose family with growth habits varying from low ground cover types to large impenetrable hedge types. I have seen a few cities and parks make use of the mediland shrub roses, but with so many types available for the home gardener it's a wonder that more are not sold in nurseries. The shrub type roses are usually very winter hardy and healthy, with the Rugosa's being completely disease free. Some of the shrubs have an added bonus of colourful fall hip displays . If you're the type of gardener who wants a lot of bang for you buck, then this is the type of rose for you.
Mini roses: A really fascinating group of roses with all the characteristics of large rose reduced to mini proportions. You can even find miniature climbing roses with smaller flowers and leaves growing to about 7 feet tall. Most types grow about 14 inches high, are everblooming and come in every colour except true blue or black. These plants are not house plants, but will flourish in any home garden with minimal care.
Site and exposure requirements depend on the type of rose. Usually 5 to 6 hours of sun is preferred for most roses but there are a few shrubs, climbers and Rugosa types that will grow in more shaded situations. If you must choose between morning or afternoon sunshine, take the earlier option. Early morning sun will dry off the leaves, helping to prevent mildew and blackspot. Roses will tolerate a windy exposed site provided that hardy varieties are chosen or a winter mulch is applied to protect from harsh winter conditions.
First, choose a sunny area of the garden that gets at least 4 to 5 hours of sun. Do not crowd your rose with other trees and plants. Some roses, such as climbers and shrubs, don’t mind company, but most like to mix with other roses or other non-invasive plants. If you’re replacing an older rose bush, it is important to remove an 18 cubic inch area of soil and replace it with fresh soil. A newly planted rose doesn’t like to grow in the same soil that an older rose bush has been in.
- Bare Root Roses -An easy and inexpensive option for early season planting. Late winter is the best time plant bare-root roses.
- Container Roses - A container rose already has plenty of leaves and maybe some blooms. Early spring is the best time to set out plants grown in nursery containers (vs. bare-root, packaged plants).
Step-by-Step instructions for Planting Roses
- If you have a bare root plant, soak it in a bucket of water before planting. For roses that are potted, you can water the pot thoroughly and let it sit until ready to plant.
- Dig a hole approximately 15 inches deep and 18 inches wide. If planting bare root roses, form a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole. If you live in a colder area, plant a bit deeper and consult with your local garden center.
- Add a small handful of bonemeal to the planting hole. Spade in some compost or peatmoss to loosen the soil. Mix the soil you took out of the hole with more compost or peat moss.
- Remove the rose from the pot. Carefully place in the hole and shovel the extra soil around the new plant. Plant the rose with the crown slightly deeper than the original soil. The crown or bud union should be about 1 inch under the soil.
- Gently firm the rose into its new home and water well. Stand back and watch it grow!
|I'd love to say these are mine but these are at Cantigny Gardens, Wheaton, IL|
This is the really easy part of rose growing. The first and most important type of rose food is plain old water. A rose that is well watered throughout the summer will grow far better than one that's treated to loads of chemical rose foods but little water. I use organic fertilizer outside with great success. Seakelp is excellent as are fish fertilizers and Canola meal. Many people like the all purpose rose foods available in most garden centres. Try not to get to hung up on stuffing your rose plant full of rose foods, and apply only a small handful about every six weeks if you remember. Fertilizer should not be applied after July 15 , as the plants need to use up what's in the soil and 'harden up' for winter. If all of this sounds too confusing, just throw a handful down before and after the first bloom, and your sure to get pretty roses.
Pests & Diseases
The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" certainly holds true here. Planting a rose in good soil with plenty of sunshine and air circulation is your first and most important defense against insect and disease problems. Mildew and Blackspot are the two most troublesome problems but with a little effort can be easily controlled. If you don't want to spray fungicides at all, then be sure to plant disease- free roses like the Rugosas or one of the healthiest of the others. Strip off all the leaves before your rose begins to regrow in the spring and watch for any sign of trouble.
Most home gardeners can grow great roses without the use of insecticides. Aphids are easily washed off a plant or are soon eaten up by beneficial insects in a healthy garden. Other insects can be picked off or given the hose treatment. Spider mites are a real problem for people who spray often, but seldom bother the organic garden. When it comes to insects and disease, roses are truly highly over- rated, as many other types of plants from tomatoes to carrots have their troubles but we seem to demand perfection from our roses. Try not to be to concerned about the odd spoiled leaf but take reasonable precautions against bad outbreaks.