How to Grow Healthy Roses
Roses are easy to grow and remarkably tolerant especially when you grow your roses using organic, sustainable methods. Roses have long gotten a bad ‘rap’ of being difficult to grow when in actuality you only need to focus on a few basic points to have good results.
Selecting a Rose Variety
There 4 basic attributes to consider when selecting roses for your garden:
The first place to start is to determine your USDA hardiness zone. Typically most roses will grow in zones 6-10. Milder climates such as southern California and Florida can grow roses with hardiness ratings of 7 or higher. Colder areas such as Colorado, Idaho, or Ohio will need roses that are hardy to zone 5 or lower.
NOTE: Don’t purchase a rose unless the hardiness zone is listed. Roses that are listed as being grown on their “own root” will always be harder than a rose that is grafted.
Roses come in a wide range of sizes from miniature and groundcover roses that only grow to 12″ tall to large climbing roses that can exceed 12′ or more. Select a rose variety that fits the size requirements of the area and you will be pleased you did in years to come. Roses are typically categorized as floribunda roses, shrub roses, Grandiflora roses, climbing roses, miniature roses, and hybrid tea roses.
NOTE: Stay clear of roses offered that do not clearly state the size, but instead use terms such as a medium shrub or large floribunda.
Roses come in a rainbow of colors from pure white to almost jet black. Our favorites at Amazon Perennials are some of the wild striped or multi-colored roses such as George Burns rose, Oranges and Lemons rose or Fourth of July climbing rose.
You can select roses that are extremely fragrant to those that have no fragrance at all. Typically if a rose description does not list fragrance, then it probably has no scent.
Selecting a Location to Plant your Rose
Select a site with full sun exposure for the majority of the day to plant your roses. Roses perform best and have the least amount of problems when they receive at least 7 hours of sun per day. Choose an area where the roots of the rose will not compete with the roots of other plants, especially trees. While roses will tolerate a variety of soil conditions, selecting a location with good drainage is always preferable. If you live in an area that receives a lot of wind, try to locate your roses in a location that receives some protection from the wind. While the wind will not harm the plant, it will cause the blooms to look less than stellar.
Planting your Rose
If you have the space English Roses, Old Roses, and other Shrub Roses look superb planted in tight groups of three of one variety. They will then grow together to form one dense shrub, which will provide a more continuous display and make a more definite statement in the border. We suggest planting approximately 18 inches apart within the group. Adjacent plants of neighboring varieties should be planted approximately 3 feet away. For hedges, plant fairly close together approximately 18 inches apart for maximum effect.
Best Soil Types for Roses
Roses will grow in a wide range of soils, but whatever type they do appreciate good soil preparation. The addition of a generous quantity of well-rotted garden compost before planting will help to ensure strong growth. Stay clear of manure products as they are typically high in salts and weed seeds.
Watering Requirements for Roses
Regular watering is essential, the rose will be stronger, healthier, and, most importantly, produce more flowers. Depending on your climate and the time of year it is recommended that deep watering should be done at least once a week and often more frequently.
What to Fertilize your Roses With
Roses, especially the repeat flowering varieties, need a generous supply of nutrients regularly through the growing season although this should not be applied too close to the onset of winter. Slow release or organic fertilizers applied to the ground are the most effective; however foliar feeds are also valuable for a quick effect and to help keep the leaves healthy. We feed our roses with Down to Earth All Purpose Rose and Flower fertilizer once in the spring and once again later in the summer. During the peak bloom period, we fertilize early in the morning with Maxicrop Liquid Kelp fertilizer every 7-10 days. The Maxicrop Liquid Kelp fertilizer helps to promote strong roots, shiny foliage, increased bloom, and overall plant health.
Mulching your Roses
Mulching with organic matter (a very wide range is available) is a very important part of rose growing, helping to conserve water, keeping the ground cool, and feeding the micro organisms and worms in the soil. It should preferably be well rotted and, if it starts to disappear during the season, be reapplied.
How to Keep your Roses Healthy Using Organic Methods
The best way to keep your plants free from pests and diseases is to start by selecting disease-resistant varieties and then grow them using only organic methods. Throw out the Miracle-Gro and other high nitrogen, synthetic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers promote fast flushes of new growth which in turn promote insect infestations. In addition, synthetic fertilizers only feed the top growth of the plant, doing little to promote a healthy, vigorous root system. That being said, even the healthiest of roses will at times get aphids or thrips. To deal with these pests you can either mix up a spray bottle of organic soap and water and “drown” the insects or for a little more punch try Monterey Garden Insect Spray, an organic garden spray that is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed and works using Spinosad. Monterey Garden Insect Spray also works great on lawns, vegetables, ornamental shrubs, fruit and citrus trees, and herbs.
Basic Summer Maintenance
While your roses are blooming, dead-head spent blooms frequently. Dead-heading promotes the production of new blooms and does not allow the rose to produce hips. As fall approaches you can start to leaves the spent blooms on the rose to promote the growth of rose hips. Many hardy roses have spectacular rose hips such as William Baffin and Topaz Jewel that are very ornamental in the winter garden.