Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
November, 2003
Regional Report

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'America' is a climber that rewards with rich color and fragrance.

Planning for Roses

Did you know that 40 percent of rose bushes sold throughout the country are grown in Arizona's low desert? The West Valley of Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located) is home to some of the largest growers in the country. Roses thrive in our desert climate and experience few of the insect or disease problems that disprupt rose lovers in other regions, particularly in humid climates plagued by fungal diseases.

Types of Roses
Bare-root rose planting is coming up in December and January, so now is a good time to start planning what varieties to add to your garden. Roses are grouped into two broad categories: Modern and Old Garden (sometimes called antique or heirloom roses). Modern roses are those developed after the introduction of the first hybrid tea in 1867. Within the Modern rose group are classifications of hybrid tea, floribunda, polyantha, grandiflora, miniature, shrub, climber, and rambler, so there's something to suit every taste and growing situation.

Where to Plant
Even in the desert, roses need at least six hours of sun to bloom and thrive. Eastern exposures that have morning sun and protection from hot afternoon sun are ideal. If possible, stay away from areas with lots of reflected heat and glare, such as southern and western block walls. Determine how much space the shrubs will have to grow, both vertically and horizontally, and choose varieties that will grow within those parameters.

What to Buy
Select #1 grade roses with 3 or 4 thick green canes. Stay away from spindly looking plants and those with dried out roots. Roots should be moist and pliable. Don't buy roses that have been dipped in wax, as they will burn in our hot climate. (Wax dipping maintains moisure in roses sent to northern climates.)

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