Rose Gardens For the Beginning Gardener
For the beginning gardener, roses often seem too hard to tackle, but that just isn’t true. If you want a rose garden, I suggest you start out with 4-6 plants. Buying them when they’re in bloom is more expensive, but it’s so much easier to choose a healthy looking plant. You also can see great pictures of the plants if you order online. One of the best mail order companies for roses is Jackson and Perkins. They’ve been in business for many years and have a huge selection of nearly any rose plant you could want.
Jackson & Perkins
If you want to save money, you can purchase roses bare root, in the very early part of the year. They come packed in a medium of peat or sawdust to keep the roots moist and then are wrapped in paper and finally plastic. It’s particularly hard to tell the health of the rose in this packaging. Based on the stems that are sticking out, look for some greeness to the bark. If it’s very brown with stripes and looks particularly dry, don’t buy it. The roots are probably dried out also, from being left in the sun too long or just because they’re old.
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When you get your roses home, choose a sunny location where you can dig the soil and work in some compost and bagged steer manure. Turn this over several times and water it as well. Give it a couple of days to percolate, then dig holes for your roses. Make the holes about three feet apart and about two feet deep. In the center of each hole, make a mound of compost and place the roots over the mound, spreading them out evenly. Then you can cover the roots with the dug soil, but don’t submerge the plant below the first growth area. This area will be slightly bulged and the stems will branch off of the bulge.
If you have, say, six roses, and your space allows, you could make two rows of three roses. It looks nicer than just a single straight row. If you have deer, you’ll want to fence the area with either lattice, pickets, or simply deer netting on 5 ft. posts. Of course if you have a fenced backyard,, that would be a good place to plant your roses out of the way of deer.
As far as care of your roses, I usually use a systemic fertilizer in the spring when they just start to sprout. This takes care of aphids that love to eat the tender growth. I also like to add some more compost around the root area. This helps to retain moisture and is good for the plant. If the soil is too heavy and stays wet too long, sometimes it causes mildew and yellowing of the leaves. That’s why soil preparation is so important to the health of the plant.
You can also raise roses in pots and containers. The same rules apply, but usually the containers dry out faster than when the roses are in the ground. Just watch for the tips of the branches wilting. Then you know it’s time to water. A drip system is also a good way to monitor the watering of your plants. I have another article on drip systems that you can refer to.
The last thing you need to know is how to prune the roses at the end of the season. I usually prune in January, but that’s just a rule of thumb. If winter starts earlier, then you might want to prune sooner. Make sure you have good, sharp pruning shears. I like to prune pretty far back because the blooms are only on the new growth. Make your cuts at a 45 degree angle just above a ring. The rings are all along the stem and this is where the new growth comes out. I usually cut back to about 11/2 or 2 feet and then I remove all the extra leaves and little twigs that are left. I cover the roots with a loose compost to protect them for the winter. If you live in extremely severe weather, you may want to cover your roses. A canvas tarp is good, because it breathes better than plastic.
Another tip is that when you cut or deadhead your roses, use the same technique as when you prune. Look for five leaflets together, and cut just above that on a 45 degree angle, making sure you don’t cut into the ring or growth band. If you follow these tips, you should have beautiful roses for years to come.