The key to growing roses of any kind
is to give them a proper home. They need a planting site that gets at least
six hours of sun a day and offers rich soil with good drainage. If you've got
the sun but not the soil, you'll have to do a little amending. And here's
where I begin to over-simplify things, much to the chagrin of rose devotees.
No homemade rose mixes here.
Buy some professional rose soil. It
comes by the bag or in bulk, and it's labeled "Rose Soil." This is normally
a perfect mix of soil, sand and humus for a rose garden.
ROSE CARE PRACTICES
Now let's care for them. And let's
over-simplify this segment, too. Since I wanted to write this article about
pruning, let's start there; then I will discuss the feeding, fungal controls
and insect controls as well.
The next simple
step is to make a raised bed with the rose soil. It is recommended that it stand
wight to 10 inches tall, full of rose soil. Rose roots grow laterally and shallow,
so making a raised bed of the right kind of soil is key. Another trick of the
trade to help abate weeds and unwanted grass, is to lay four to eight sheets of newspaper on the ground where you make your raised bed.
Pruning controls the size and shape of roses and
keeps the modern varieties blooming repeatedly all summer long, as they flower
on new growth. Well-established varieties of modern rose bushes such as hybrid
teas, floribundas and grandifloras, should receive a major pruning each spring
after the winter protection has been removed and just as the buds begin to
swell. For us, that's usually about Valentine's Day. (Roses ... Valentine's
Day ... it's a perfect correlation, if you ask me.)
All that's needed otherwise
during the growing season is to remove and destroy any diseased foliage or
canes, and to "dead-head" or remove the faded flowers, cutting their stems just
above the first leaf with five leaflets.
Most old-fashioned and species roses,
as well as the climbers that bloom only once a year, flower on wood from the
previous year's growth. They are pruned right after flowering.
pruning is essential to ensure the prolific bloom and long life of a rose
bush. There are two times a year when you prune more
seriously, spring and fall. But pruning of roses is actually done year round.
Every time you cut off old blooms and remove twiggy growth you are actually
promoting new growth.
Explaining the concept of rose pruning without a live bush on which to
demonstrate is difficult, but try to visualize the
The first step in the spring
pruning of hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas and climbing roses is to remove any
canes that are dead or just old and non-productive. These canes are usually
gray in color and scaley. To prune hybrid tea and grandiflora roses, follow
certain principles including:
- Prune high for more flowers
earlier, or low for fewer, bigger flowers later
- Prune to remove weak and crisscrossing
- Remove growth an
inch below a canker
damaged, dead or broken canes back to healthy growth
- Remove sucker growth as close as possible
to main root.
canes and growth to a point where you have five or six healthy canes 12-18 inches long that, together, form a "vase-like" structure.
Floribundas are usually not
pruned as severely as hybrid teas. Even so, be sure to cut any dead,
broken, damaged or blotched branches back to where the pith, or center of the
cane, is white and healthy looking. Next, remove weak, spindly canes, canes
growing toward the center of the bush, the weaker of two canes that
crisscross, canes that grow out then up, and suckers. Finally, trim
all remaining canes back to one-half their former height.
Miniatures - In the spring, it is
best to cut miniatures almost down to the ground (i.e., 2-3 inches).
Moreover, if they are over three years old, it is a good idea to divide them by
cutting the whole plant in half or more. Be sure to leave some roots on each
(Antique) and shrubs - Remove any dead canes,
and lightly trim the remainder of the bush, removing about a third of the growth. Mass
blooming is the aim with these roses. Additional light grooming throughout the
year is encouraged, since ever-blooming varieties flower on new wood. Varieties
that bloom only once during the season should be pruned AFTER they have
bloomed, since they bloom on old wood.
PEST- AND DISEASE-CONTROL
Many gardeners avoid planting roses
because they've heard the plants suffer from dreaded pests and diseases. To
some extent, that's true. But you can take steps to prevent problems before
they ever start.
Pest problems can be controlled with routine applications of
insecticidal soap, which kills most of the insects that attack roses,
including aphids, leafhoppers and spider mites. You can also
prevent attacks by many of these bugs by using a systemic insecticide (unless you're
organic in your practices) or by feeding them a systemic rose food, which I'll
Fungal diseases such as black spot, powdery mildew and rust can
do serious damage to roses, but regular treatments with fungicides, beginning
just as the buds begin to swell in early spring and continuing throughout the
growing season, will prevent them. Many rosarians in Houston use over-the-counter fungicides like Funginex on a weekly basis. Others, like Fertilome Liquid Systemic Fungicide and Alliette, need only to be applied every two weeks.
And there's always the homemade recipe: Mix
one tablespoon of baking soda and 2½ tablespoons of highly refined
horticultural oil in one gallon of water. Spray a little on lower leaves
before covering the entire plant to make sure it doesn't burn the foliage. If
it does, use half as much baking soda. That's it. Apply once a week for optimum control.
For simplified feeding,
just remember this: roses are HEAVY FEEDERS! Don't use bloom-boosters or super-phosphates on roses. They
actually do fine with balanced food.
Feeding is done once a month from March through
September. Just read the label instructions for amounts. If you don't
practice "organic" rose gardening, there is a product on the market known as
Systemic Rose Food ... use it to feed the plants and prevent bugs in one
step. And don't be surprised to find rose foods with a higher nitrogen (first
number in the ratio) than what you think is necessary. Just remember that you
need leaves to get blooms and the more nitrogen in the ratio, the better the plant's ability to produce green leaves.
This segment is in two parts. First, there is a description of rose. Second are suggestions from the Houston Rose Society
for suggested varieties that consistently do well in the
It's hard for me to imagine a garden without a least one rose.
But which rose? The choices today can be mind-boggling. Nurseries and catalogs offer hybrid teas,
polyanthas, floribundas, grandifloras, climbers, miniatures, tree roses and
shrub roses. It's easy to be confused and wonder which are best for your
garden. Here's a rundown that might help.
- These are the classic among all kinds of
roses; they are often called monthly or ever-blooming roses. They are the
result of crossing two old-fashioned rose classes, the hybrid perpetual and
the tea rose from China which gave the repeat-blooming trait.
Rose Society Suggested List
Floribundas -The floribundas
originated from crossing the hybrid tea with polyantha roses. They're compact
plants that produce more flowers per stem and tend to bloom all summer long,
which is why they are very popular now. There are very few polyanthas on the
market today because floribundas seem to have more appeal.
Grandifloras - This is a
relatively new classification which resulted from crosses between hybrid tea
and floribunda varieties. Grandifloras are usually very vigorous plants.
Queen Elizabeth is probably the most popular rose in this class.
Climbing and Pillar Roses - Many of the popular varieties of the classes previously
described have climbing forms. But it's interesting to note that climbers
don't actually "climb." They do, however, produce canes that reach 20 feet in length,
and those can be attached to walls, fences, lattice and trellises.
Old Garden Roses - This is really more of a generalized grouping than a class of
roses. Included are China, hybrid perpetual, tea, moss, damask, bourbon and
moisette roses. Recent years have seen considerable interest in many of these
plants. Part of their popularity is due to nostalgia and interest in
historical plantings. Old-rose enthusiasts quickly point to the superior
fragrance, hardiness, growth-habit and disease-resistance of some of the old
varieties that may have been lost or weakened in the hybridization process of
Miniature Roses -
Most of these plants are pint-sized versions of full-size
plants that produce a profusion of flowers all summer long and do extremely
well in containers. They grow no more than 16-36 inches high.
Double Delight -
Gold Medal -
Mister Lincoln -
St. Patrick -
Touch of Class -
Uncle Joe -
Veteran's Honor -
Angel Face -
First Edition -
Sexy Rexy -
Summer Fashion -
Child's Play -
Cream - Pink
Rise & Shine
Peggy T -
Mrs. B. R. Cant -
New Dawn -
Don Juan -
By no means is this THE
list. Or is it an all-inclusive list. That would be impossible, considering there are thousands of varieties available these
days. These are just suggestions from The Houston Rose
Society. For information on the organization, see www.houstonrose.org You may also wish to attend the society's monthly meetings on the second Thursday of each month at the Houston
Garden Club in Hermann Park.
GardenLine is heard exclusively on NewsRadio 740 KTRH 6-9:45 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays.