Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
May, 2010
Regional Report

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Select hardy roses for your area and watch them grow and bloom.

Replacing Roses

It has been a rough winter for roses in my garden. Many of the hybrid teas were killed back by winter desiccation and temperature fluctuations. I've been in the process of pruning them back quite hard, and there should be fairly good recovery. But a few roses will need to be replaced.

As I recently visited garden outlets, it saddened me to see packaged, bare-root roses stretching for light and looking so ragged. It's a disgrace to even display them. Packaged roses should be kept in cool storage and displayed in a proper location.

My best choice in obtaining roses is to purchase potted plants that are properly rooted and have vigorous healthy foliage. Some potted roses will already be in bloom to provide immediate gratification. Be picky about choosing varieties that grow well in your area.

Since potted roses are generally grown in a soilless mixture, it is important to prepare your garden soil to allow new plants to acclimate and grow. I dig planting holes 20 inches wide, but no deeper than the container in which the rose is growing. The soil removed from the hole is amended with one-third compost, mixing it thoroughly. Synthetic fertilizers added to the bottom of the hole? Forget about it! These fertilizers are composed of high salts and will hinder the root growth and impede water uptake. I will fertilize the new bushes in a month or so, after they have had some time acclimate in their new setting.

Where roses grow, insects will find them. The most common early season pests are soft-bodied insects called aphids. They're easy to control, though; just hose them off stems and foliage with a stream of water. Repeat as often as needed. Natural predators will also take care of a good many so encourage the wild birds and lady bird beetles. When needed, I will eventually mix up some homemade soap spray to discourage rose insects.

As temperatures begin to stay consistently warm, tiny pests known as spider mites will attack certain rose species. These tiny spider-like creatures congregate on the lowest leaves of the bush and will be found on the bottom sides of the leaves. To detect, hold a sheet of white paper under a set of leaves and tap the foliage sharply. Mites, if present, will be visible on the paper as tiny moving specs. Spider mites don't like water, so an old remedy that discourages mites and waters the rose garden is the use of a "frog-eye" sprinkler. It delivers water to the lower foliage, killing mites, while deeply irrigating the rose garden.

Roses can be temperamental flowering shrubs, but with the right selection and common sense care, you can successfully grow them in your garden.

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