By Saif Malik
Rose plants are a must for nearly every garden. Roses set the bar for floral beauty and excellence through their history, perfect flower form, and intoxicating scents. Queens have honored them and poets have memorialized them. Their image represents the concept of love and perfection. It’s no wonder that the roses are the most revered flowers on earth.
- Like other plants, Rose plants are living things with basic needs such as full sun (most rose plants require at least 6 hours a day, adequate watering. Mulching, well drained soil, and slow release fertilizer. You will get out of rose plants what you put into them.
- From miniatures, the rose plants that grow 6 inches tall to climbers that will scale a three-story house, roses can provide color and beauty in nearly any sunny location.
- Most roses are shades of red and pink, but especially with new developments in roses, the color range is becoming breathtaking. The only colors missing in roses are true blue and black.
- Roses are beautiful companions for other flowers. Try planting them surrounded by Larkspur, Agapanthus, Iris, Phlox, and silver-leaved plants i.e. Dusty miller. Even when roses are not in bloom, your garden will look wonderful.
- Growing conditions can significantly affect the size of flowers. Rose plants that have not had ample water or nutrients tend to produce smaller flowers, so keeping rose plants well-watered and fertilized is important. Also, extreme heat can cause rose plants to produce smaller flowers, if they produce them at all.
- Rose plants don’t like to bloom in hot weather i.e. repeated days with temperature above 30C/85F.
- Roses are most fragrant when temperatures are warm but not scalding. Excessive heat or very cool temperatures make their scent harder to detect. That means in warm climates, roses are most fragrant in the morning or evening. In cold climates, roses are the most fragrant in late afternoon.
- The same rose variety will look slightly different in every garden, depending on the climate, the soil, the care it receives, and the maturity of the bush. It takes three or four years for a new rose plant to come to maturity, so give it time.
- Mixed beds and borders do best with rose plants that have repeat bloom, at least three flushes of bloom in a season.
- Use groundcover rose plants with caution in very wet, humid climates. Since so much of their foliage touches the ground, they can be plagued with fungal problem.
- Formal gardens lend themselves beautifully to raised beds. Whenever possible, make your formal garden a raised bed garden and your roses will benefit from the superior soil and drainage.
- Use wide containers for growing rose plants because their roots spread out more than they do down. The half whiskey barrel size is about as small as you would want to go for a hybrid tea rose here, yet its width is good.
- Look for microclimate in your garden. The garage, a wall, or a fence might provide protection from harsh winds and weather and allow you for growing roses that would otherwise be too tender for your climate.
- A great way to ensure good circulation is to grow really big roses inside in obelisk instead of on a trellis. You can weave the supple new canes in and out of the structure, which supports them gracefully.
- For growing roses in containers, use a 12-inch wide container for small roses and miniatures, 15-inch pots for Floribundas and small hybrid Teas, and 18-inches and larger for tree roses and larger hybrid teas. The container should be at least as deep as it is wide.
- Hold off fertilizing newly planted roses for a couple of weeks. Fertilizing too soon is a primary cause of failure to bloom and the death of new rose plants.
- Rose plants need a steady and ample supply of water. How much water do roses need? The short answer is that most roses grow well with about one inch of water per week. In hot regions especially, roses may well need daily water.
- An important part of smart watering is smart mulching. Use organic mulch e.g. pine bark chips, cedar chips, or pine needles, around your rose bushes. A good layer of mulch helps maintain an even soil temperature, conserves moisture in the soil, and suppresses weeds. As it breaks down, the mulch contributes organic matter to the soil.
- Smart watering tips for Rose plants include: Water regularly, water in the morning, rather in the evening, avoid watering leaves when watering roses (no matter what time of the day you are watering) and be diligent about watering in the Fall.
- If the leaves normally have sheen and lose that, it’s time to turn on the water. The leaves should never wilt, even in the heat of afternoon sun.
- Roses are getting too much water if their lower foliage starts to yellow and fall off (without any dark spots, the telltale clue that black spot is the culprit). Yellow leaves mean the plant is starved of oxygen, a result of waterlogged roots that can’t get access to air.
- Wiggle your finger down an inch or two into the dirt. If it’s dry that far down, it’s probably time to water.
- Some annuals such as Impatiens are even thirstier than roses, so they can be used as Indicator plants to check the water need of roses.
- Avoid using sheets of black plastic as mulch. It heats the soil and suffocates the roots of your plants.
- Rose plants are the heavy feeders. For peak performance, add more nutrients by fertilizing your garden regularly, perhaps as often as every two weeks if you want to be aggressive.
- Water your rose bushes well the day before you fertilize. Thirsty plants can take up so much fertilizer so quickly that it burns them. Water the day before and then again after you fertilize, and the roses will get the most out of the fertilizer.
- Adding too much fertilizer can cause problems for roses. For example, excess nitrogen makes roses produce few flowers but lots of succulent foliage that insects find inviting.
- Apply right amount of fertilizer and you will help your roses develop a healthy root system, sturdy stems and beautiful blooms.
- Common Formulations for rose fertilizers include 9-18-9 and 18-24-16.
- If you spray your rose plants for pests or disease, follow the directions on the label when you mix the spray. Do not exceed the recommended dosages. If an infestation is severe you should simply spray more often (depending on the life cycle of pest or disease you are trying to eradicate.
- To prevent pest and disease problems in roses: select resistant roses, keep plants healthy, clean up regularly, use chemicals wisely and know your enemy and your weapons.
- Fungal problems in roses include: Black spot, Crown gall, Downy mildew, Powdery mildew, Rust, and Stem canker.
- Insect problems in Roses include: Aphids, Borers, Caterpillars, Japanese beetles, Leafhoppers, Rose midges, Rose slugs, Scale, Spider mites, and Thrips.
- To prune a rose bush: Remove any dead or dormant wood, cut off any suckers growing up from the root, Remove any spindly or very old growth, cut ot canes that are rubbing or close to it and trim remaining canes.
- Post-pruning care of rose plants include: Remove debris and weeds from rose beds, hold off feeding roses for about three or four weeks after pruning, applying lipstick, petroleum jelly, or fingernail polish to to cuts to prevent disease is a myth, the rose should heal fine on its own, immediately after pruning is a good time to lay down fresh mulch as per need, and fix or replace labels.
References: "Complete Guide to Roses" by Miracle-Gro for text information and "Google" for pictures.
About author: Saif Malik is a Landscape horticulturist, well equipped with lot of professional exposure and experience. Along with landscaping/gardening work, he's founder, publisher & editor-in-chief of hortist.com.
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Copyright Hortist, 2013