How to Grow Roses
Would you like to become a rosarian? Roses, symbolic of love and beauty, have been growing wild and in gardens for thousands of years. To grow gorgeous roses, it's important to choose varieties that do well in your growing region and take measures to help them thrive season after season. Read on to learn how to grow this exquisite flower.
Preparing for Planting
1. Choose rose varieties. Did you know there are 13,000 varieties of roses? Some roses grow better in certain regions than in others. When you're choosing what type of rose to grow, take some time to research the specifics of your growing region, then look for roses that have characteristics you find appealing. Take their shape, size, and color into account when choosing varieties to grow. Roses fall into the following categories:
- Hybrid tea roses are beautifully shaped, colorful roses that often make appearances in flower shops and as part of bouquets.
- Floribunda roses are the most colorful of all the varieties. Each bush has many blossoms, rather than just one to a stem.
- Grandiflora roses are a cross between the hybrid tea and Floribunda roses, and they grow to be quite tall with several rose clusters to a stem.
- Climber roses can be trained to stretch vine-like along fences and walls.
- Miniature roses are intricate and tiny, perfect for planting in a container.
- Shrub and landscape roses are quite hardy, resistant to pests and disease. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes.
- Tree roses are roses that have been grafted to a long stem, giving them the appearance of trees. They require a bit more care than some of the other types of roses.
2. Buy bare root or potted roses. Once you've picked out the types of roses you want to plant, decide in what form you want to buy them. Bare roots are the roots of roses that are planted directly into the ground. You can also buy young roses that have already been planted in a small pot, and transplant them to the ground or another pot. Either type may be purchased in a nursery. Rare rose varieties may be found online.
- Bare root roses are planted in early spring, giving them time to take root before sprouting several weeks later when the weather warms up.
- Potted roses can be kept inside during the winter, then placed outside in the spring.
3. Get rose gardening supplies. Aside from the bare root or potted plant itself, you'll need a few other supplies to get your rose garden started. Go to your local nursery or check out online retailers to pick up the following:
- Pruning shears. Pruning roses keeps them healthy, promotes the growth of blooms, and keeps them in a pretty shape. Shears are essential equipment for growing roses. Get small curved-edge shears and larger lopping shears.
- Gardening gloves. Protect yourself from thorns with a thick pair of gloves.
- Fertilizer. Roses should be fed with fertilizer a few times a season. You can buy fertilizer specifically formulated for roses, but this is not strictly necessary.
- Mulch. Mulching rose beds can help keep pests away and distribute more nutrients to the roses. Get wood chips, pine needles, peat nuggets, or another type of mulch suitable for your area.
- Compost or rose planting mix. Mixing this with the soil when you plant the roses helps them grow.
- A shovel and spade. You'll need these to dig holes when you plant the roses.
1. Decide on a planting spot. You'll need a spot that gets at least 6 hours of good sunlight a day. Choose a spot that's not crowded with the roots or branches of other plants and trees. The soil should be loose and have good drainage; if yours has a lot of clay, loosen it and add some gypsum pellets before planting.
- Roses do best when the soil has a pH of 6.3-6.8.
- To determine whether a site has good drainage, walk around it after a good soaking rain. If the soil is damp, but not waterlogged, it should be fine. If you see puddles or large mud spots, you'll need to find another site or work on this one to make it more conducive to growing roses.
2. Water the roses to prepare them for planting. If you're planting bare roots, soak them in a bucket of water for a few hours before planting. If you're planting a rose you bought in a pot, water it thoroughly before you prepare the planting bed.
3. Prepare a large hole. You'll need one for each rose bush you're planting. Use a garden spade or shovel to dig a hole 18 inches wide and 18 inches deep. The measurements don't have to be exact, but a hole this wide and deep will be suitable for most roses. Mix the soil you removed from the hole with compost, and use some of it to form a small mound in the base of the hole. Add some bonemeal or rose fertilizer.
If you're planting more than one bush, allow several feet of space in between, so the roots have room to grow and stretch.
4. Plant the roses. Place the bare root or potted rose on top of the mound. Use a shovel to fill the hole back up with soil. The rose's bud union should be located about 2 inches below the surface of the ground. If you live in a colder region, you may need to plant your roses deeper to protect them from low temperatures.
- If you're planting a potted rose, loosen the soil around its roots to expose them before planting it in the hole.
- Make sure the soil is firm around the roots; press down with your hands to remove any air pockets.
5. Water the roses. Thoroughly watering the area where you planted the rose helps compact the soil against the roots, stabilizing the plant. Make sure it gets a good soaking right after you're finished planting.
6. Add mulch to the rose bed. Place mulch over the area where you planted the rose. If you planted a potted bush, place the mulch around the stem. This will keep the temperature consistent and protect the roses during the early stage of growth.
Caring for Roses
1. Water them frequently in the summer. Roses need a lot of water to grow healthy. Don't let the soil dry out; when you see it getting dusty give the roses a deep watering. For established plants, and depending on your region, you'll need to do this about once a week.
2. Fertilize the roses. After they are established, roses should be fertilized a few times per growing season. Use fertilizer (either liquid or granule) in early spring, when you see the first few leaves sprout. Use it again after the first bloom, and again if there's another bloom. Stop fertilizing the roses at the end of the summer, just before Labor Day.
- Some fertilizers are slow-release, so they don't have to be applied as often.
- Don't over-fertilize the roses; this can lead to disease.
3. Prune the roses. Pruning roses keeps them both beautiful and healthy. The goal is to clear away crowded areas to open up the bush, which helps prevent rotting and disease. The pruning strategy differs according to the season, but the cut you make is always the same: prune just above a bud eyes, the areas where branches form. They look like small circular swells and are usually located above a set of mature leaves. Make a down-slanted cut on an outward-facing bud eye.
- It's very hard to over-prune a rose, since new growth is always directed to the next closest bud eye. Keep this in mind when you choose bud eyes to prune, as it will affect the shape of your rose bush. Remember that the key is to prune with an eye toward opening the bush's growth up to allow for air circulation.
- In the late winter or early spring, trim the dead canes away. Cut away the rootstock, also called suckers, which are smaller offshoots of the main plant that suck away the nutrients from the rosebush. Leave 8 or so canes, trimmed back to 1/3 of their height. This will promote healthy growth as the weather warms up.
- In the summer, remove deadheads, which are dead blooms. This encourages new blooms to grow.
Protecting Roses from Weather and Disease
1. Protect the roses over the winter. Roses that are left tall may be damaged by heavy winds and frosts during the winter. Trim the canes down to 2 feet. Tie them together with twine, to help protect them from inclement weather. Heap a mound of compost around the base of the bush, then top it with a layer of straw. When the weather warms to above 51 degrees, remove the compost mound.
2. Spray aphids and spider mites off with water. These mites are quite common among most of the rose varieties. Using water is the most effective way to get rid of these pests. Use the hose to spray them away when you see them on your rose plants. Keeping the roses adequately watered also helps reduce pest infestations.
- Use insecticides sparingly. They can end up harming your roses and other plants in your garden, and kill bugs that are actually helping your plants.
- Remove leaves that look discolored and shriveled.
- If mites continue to be a problem, try making a solution of dish soap and water and spraying that on the rose leaves once a week.
- You can buy natural rosemary oil pesticide to spray on the leaves; this discourages mites without killing beneficial insects.
3. Protect your roses from black spot and powdery mildew. Choosing varieties that are resistant to these common diseases, such as knockout roses, is your best bet. You can also protect your roses by using a fungicide at the beginning of the season. Go to your local nursery to ask about how to best protect plants from these diseases in your region.
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