The Q&A Archives: Growing Roses

Question: Hi. I am new to the gardening world but am very excited about it. I would love to grow roses but I have no idea where to start or how. Aany help &/or tips would be greatly appreciated. i live in Lawton, Oklahoma!

thanks again, Candice

Answer: Here, in a nutshell, are the 4 magic ingredients for making your roses happy and your rose garden a reality. The ancient Greeks identified 4 basic elements: earth, water, air and fire. Successful rose growing begins with proper attention to these same 4 basic elements. Get these right, and you're well on your way to classic rose growing in your own backyard:

Soil (earth):
Roses prefer a soil pH ranging from 6.5 to 6.8.
Soils with good drainage are best for rose growing. When improving the soil through the use of soil amendments, don't forget to promote drainage by incorporating peat moss.

Irrigation (water):
Watering requirements depend greatly on conditions. But on the average, it is best to water rose bushes twice a week -- and to water them thoroughly. A regimen of two deep waterings per week is preferable to four shallower, less thorough waterings.
Avoid late-evening watering, which could foster powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a very common disease among roses.

Spacing (air)
Rose growing in conditions where adequate spacing is not provided can foster powdery mildew, as well. Let your roses breathe: don't plant them too closely together. Follow spacing requirements for each particular variety when purchasing rose bushes, as indicated on the plant label.

Sun (fire):
Roses like six hours of sun per day
Six hours of morning sun is preferable to six hours of afternoon sun.

Now that you know their basic needs, it's time to choose your roses. Bush roses are generally upright-growing plants that bear flowers mainly on top of the plant. Needing no support, these roses may grow from 5 or 6 inches to 5 or 6 feet tall, depending on the type and climate. The types of bush roses include hybrid teas, polyanthas, floribundas, grandifloras, miniatures, and heritage, or old roses.

Hybrid teas are the most widely grown of all roses. The long, narrow buds open into large, many-petaled blooms, one each to a long stem. Blooming throughout the growing season, a wide range of colors are available and many are fragrant. The upright, branching plants grow 3 feet or more tall.

Floribundas, recognized as a group since the mid-1940's, are derived and refined from the hybrid teas. The hardy, compact, 2- to 3-foot bushes bear great quantities of flower clusters on medium-length stems all summer long. The foliage, flower form, and color range is similar to hybrid teas, with many varieties being fragrant. They among the easiest roses to grow and are excellent for landscaping.

Grandifloras exhibit the best attributes of hybrid teas and floribundas, although the upright bushes usually grow much larger than either, sometimes reaching 5 or 6 feet tall. This makes them striking accent plants for the back of the flower border, for example. Beautifully formed flowers are borne in clusters on long stems. They are hardy and continually in bloom.

Miniatures are a tiny version of any of the other types, usually growing less than 2 feet tall. Blooms and foliage are proportionately smaller, too, but still quite perfect in form. They are hardy and excellent for edgings and mass plantings, among herbs, and in raised beds and container plants.

Heritage, or old, roses are those that were developed by plant breeders prior to 1867, the date established by the American Rose Society in commemoration of the first hybrid tea rose, La France. Basically direct descendants of the species roses, there are many different plant and flower forms among the heritage roses. Some of these antique types include the Albas, Bourbons, Centifolias, Damasks, Gallicas, Mosses, Noisettes, and Rugosas.

Climbing Roses
Climbers have long, arching canes that don't actually climb but must be attached to supports such as trellises, arbors, posts, or fences. There are many different colors and types of blooms available. The large-flowered climbers have stiff, thick canes 10 feet or so long and bloom either continuously or at least several times during summer and fall. Ramblers have longer, thinner canes with clusters of small flowers borne once in late spring or early summer.

Whichever type of rose you choose, I'm sure you'll be successful!

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