In the Garden:
Lower South
November, 2003
Regional Report

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'Livin' Easy', with its dark green, glossy leaves and apricot blooms, is one of many superbly beautiful roses for southern landscapes.

Planning A Beautiful Rose Garden

We are nearing the end of another great fall rose season. My roses are still in bloom but will be shutting down soon with the arrival of cold weather. Perhaps you have considered planting roses in the past but have put it off thinking that they are too much trouble, or that you lack the expertise.

I've got some good news. There are a host of great varieties, both new and old, that will make you look like an experienced rosarian. With a few simple tips and some preparation, you can have a beautiful rose garden or some great roses in your landscape next spring. There are few plants as delightful and rewarding as a beautiful rose.

Growing Hints
Here are a few tips that I have learned from rose experts and from experience over the years to help get you off to a great start:

Sunlight is essential. Choose the sunniest spot you can for healthy roses with the most prolific blooms. A minimum of 6 hours of sun is needed.

Great soil grows great roses. Build up raised planting beds with several inches of decomposed organic matter. Composted bark, well rotted manure, and leaf mold are all good for mixing into your existing soil to make a great rose bed.

Choose adapted varieties. If you want easy-care roses, select varieties that are not prone to disease problems. Black spot and powdery mildew are the two big rose diseases, and there are a number of old and new varieties that have considerable resistance to these problems. Do some research this winter to find the best roses for your area and your own personal aesthetic preferences. Ask local rose growers which are their favorites and why.

Plant rose bushes correctly. Here in the south, anytime from late January through February is fine, but the earlier the better. The first summer is a critical one, and the more time they have to establish roots before the onset of hot weather, the better. Don't put any fertilizer or compost in the planting hole. Just use the soil in the planting bed. Firm the soil in around the root system, making sure the bud union (if it is a grafted or budded rose) is above the soil line. Then water the plant in well.

Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Fertilize with a light application when growth emerges in the spring and then every six weeks from March through August to keep plants vigorous and healthy. I use a product with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio of nutrients.

Take advantage of this upcoming "off season" to plan your rose plantings and to prepare the beds. Spring will be here before you know it!


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