The Q&A Archives: Growing Roses

Question: How do I get started growing roses in the high desert. They seem to do well here but I've never grown roses before

Answer: Roses actually do very well in the both the high and low desert, and have two sustained blooming periods, one in the spring (March-May) and another in the fall (Sept-Oct), when temperatures cool. However, we're at the end of the planting season. Roses do best planted from November through March. You can plant now if you take extra care. They're moisture sensitive, so trying to plant once the weather heats up is more problematic. Check the moisture level in the soil regularly. (Push any pointed stick or rod, such as a long screwdriver, into the soil. If it moves through easily, the soil is moist. When the probe stops, it's hit dry soil.) You want to keep the soil uniformly moist, not wet, to a depth of about 2 feet. As far as varieties go, there are literally hundreds to choose from and matters of taste vary from person to person. I'd suggest that you check out some local rose beds to see what's attractive to you. Two great places to look at desert adapted varieties include the rose garden at Mesa Community College (Dobson & Southern) and to see old garden or heritage roses, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Heritage Rose Garden (4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix). Both are open daily at no charge.

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