When many people think of flowers, roses are the most frequent flower to come to mind. The rose is much loved throughout the world. It has been found in fossil records 30-40 million years old. Wild roses from Europe were crossed with newly introduced roses from China in the 18th century. As hybridizing methods improved, many new types of ever-blooming roses became available. By 1829, some 2,500 varieties were listed in just one catalog! And it hasn't stopped since as newer varieties are being developed every year.
No matter whether you want to grow roses for color in the garden, for their beauty and fragrance, to cut and bring into your home, to dry, or to give to friends, there’re many types available to meet your needs.
There are 3 main classes of roses:
- Wild roses: A natural species.
- Old garden roses: Widely grown before hybrids became available. Many have been found in old cemeteries and brought back into the market. Examples: Maiden's Blush, Lady Banks, and Tuscany Superb.
- Modern roses: There are many different types, including hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas/polyanthas, climbers/ramblers, miniatures, English/Austin, shrub, and ground covers.
Rose plants can be purchased in two different forms:
- Bare root roses: Available by mail order and at the nursery. These should be planted early in the spring before growth begins. The plants should be soaked in warm water a few hours before planting and planted in loamy soil. Dig a wide hole, build a soil cone in the hole, and spread the roots over the cone. Fill with soil. Make a basin by mounding a circle of soil 3 -6 inches high and about 18 inches wide around each plant, and water well.
- Potted roses: Can be planted later in the season. Plant late in the day or on a cloudy day to avoid the hot sun, which stresses the plant. Plant at the depth the rose grew in the pot, gently tease the roots loose as you plant. Make a basin with soil around the plant to hold the water, and water well.
What to do now that you've selected your rose and planted it? Ongoing care of roses isn't complicated. Just be sure to follow these basic maintenance guidelines:
- Mulch: Organic mulch helps prevent loss of moisture, moderate fluctuations in soil temperature, prevent weed growth, provide nutrients and organic matter, and provide a neat appearance. Choices include wood or bark chips, rotting leaves, compost, and pine straw. Immediately after planting, place 3 to 4 inches of mulch around roses, avoiding contact with canes. Mulch may need to be replaced during the growing season. A 6-inch mulch during the winter season is recommended.
- Fertilizer: The pH of the soil should be between 5.6 and 7.2 in order for the plants to utilize fertilizer. Roses need fertilizer even when grown in the best soil. The best rose fertilizer is a complete and balanced one, such as 10-18-10 or 6-12-6. Begin in the spring and stop in the early fall, feeding every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.
- Pruning: Early spring is the best time to prune. Always use clean, sharp pruners and wear gloves. Pruning is important for the overall health of your plant. Be sure to remove older, dead, diseased, and damaged wood. Deadhead all spent flowers. If a plant is too large, you can cut it back by about 1/3 without causing injury.
What else do you need to do? Most important of all, plant disease resistant roses. Select healthy plants and provide good growing conditions with full sun, good soil, room for growth, and adequate food and water. When watering, avoid getting water on the foliage, or water in the morning so that the foliage dries quickly.
Anything else? Watch for common diseases, such as black spot, powdery mildew, downy mildew,and rust, and for insect pests, such as aphids, Japanese beetles, and spider mites. Call your local Extension Office for recommendations for treatment of diseases or pests. You will receive help in identifying problems and treating your roses.
If you have not planted roses before, you may want to try one of the disease-resistant, hardy roses for color, fragrance and beauty. It’s hard not to love a beautiful rose.