Gardening Articles: Flowers :: Roses

Roses 101 (page 2 of 2)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Four Steps to Rose Success

If you want maximum return on your bed of roses, four important requirements should be taken into consideration: (1) selection of the rose varieties, (2) location of the planting bed, (3) soil preparation, and (4) consistent care.

When choosing roses, always favor those adapted to your growing region. Our list may not contain all (or any, for that matter) of your favorites, but there will be plenty of roses to choose from, some of which are bound to become new favorites. The selection process is a very important step in the creation of a successful rose garden. By choosing naturally vigorous roses, very willing to grow in your area, you will dramatically decrease the amount of care they require.

A small bed of roses can function as the focal point of a yard, but don't let design considerations blind you to roses' specific needs. In the main, roses require a location that's sunny at least six hours a day. Ideally, the location should provide good air circulation and receive morning sun to help dry off leaves early in the day. Too much shade encourages disease problems. If the shade is produced by mature trees, their extensive root systems will rob nutrients from the roses, a situation that results in few flowers and weak plants. And if there are youngsters in your household, take care to locate the rose bed where an errant football or Frisbee isn't likely to wreak havoc.

Once you have outlined the shape of the rose bed, it's time to improve the soil--before planting the roses. Because roses are rather finicky about soil, it's a good idea to have your soil tested. Some large nurseries and most university extension services will do this for a nominal charge. Once the soil analysis is complete, you will know exactly what should be added to the soil and in what amount. This is not the time for skimping. Any extra effort you put into advance preparation will pay off in superior results for years to come.

Standard care includes watering, fertilizing, protecting against pests and diseases, and pruning. Roses need regular applications of water for top production of flowers. It makes no difference whether the water comes from a hose or from rain. Just make sure the roses receive enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 18 inches every week during the growing season. The easiest way to check this is with a long screwdriver or stiff piece of wire, such as a straightened-out coat hanger. Either device will be easy to push through moist soil, more difficult once it hits dry soil. In arid summer climates, consider watering your roses with a drip system that is connected to a timer.

At least two applications of fertilizer should be made, once when new growth first starts in the spring and again in midseason. Favor non-burning, natural formulations that feed the soil as well as the plant. Vigorously growing roses will be far less susceptible to attack from pests and diseases than those that are struggling. There are effective natural controls for virtually every pest known to plague roses. If you know of diseases that are a problem in your area (such as black spot, rust, and mildew), use a natural fungicide to combat the problem before it occurs. Diseases are impossible to eradicate once they make an appearance, although they can be stopped from doing additional damage.

Roses are not just for the grand formal gardens or the picket fences of Cape Cod. They have a place in every garden.

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