Tips for Growing Roses

Many roses, both old and new, are disease resistant and easy to care for. There are many different kinds of roses with diverse sizes, shapes, and colors. Many are fragrant. All are beautiful and work well in combination with other plants.

Work lots of organic material (compost) into your soil along with soil conditioner. If you have doubts about drainage, dig a hole, large enough to plant your rose, fill it with water, and see how quickly it drains. If the hole has not emptied in an hour, you need to improve drainage or your roses will not prosper.

When planting container grown roses, dig a hole at least half again as wide as the container and ideally twice as wide. Plant the rose to the depth it is in the container. If it is a bare root rose (not in a container) with a graft site (many hybrid teas are grafted), dig a deep enough hole to have the graft at or just below the soil line and wide enough to accommodate the spread-out roots. You will need a mound of soil in the middle of the hole for the rose to sit on. Soak bare root roses overnight before planting. You can trim damaged or extremely long roots before planting. Remember to water and mulch your roses after planting.

Many roses bloom continuously from May until frost. To do this they need lot of nutrients. Any good quality, well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer will do. Fertilize according to directions in the spring and at least once during the summer. Do not feed your roses after mid-August – you want your roses to become dormant for the winter and feeding will promote growth. Remember to water after fertilizing.

Roses want one to two inches of water a week. They prefer not having their leaves get wet when they are watered. Soaker hoses are a practical and efficient way to water roses. Mulching will help with moisture retention.

Roses are prone to the same pests as other flowering shrubs and also to a fungus called black spot. Many rose growers look for disease resistant varieties which are plentiful. Good garden hygiene and healthy roses will help prevent problems. Some growers use only organic products or chose not to spray at all. If you choose to spray dormant roses and surrounding soil with lime sulfur (which is organic) during the winter. This will help eradicate fungal spores and prevent black spot during the growing season. The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society maintains a no-spray rose garden at the American Red Cross at 100 Edgewood Road in Asheville.

Much has been written about pruning roses. Basically, you want to keep your roses at a size where they bloom freely and yet fit into your garden. However, you need to cut back dead or damaged canes in early spring and whenever else they occur.

Trim your roses back to about three feet if they are very tall or sprawling. Mulch them well. If you have roses with grafts, make sure the graft is well covered with soil and mulch.

The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society is available to help you learn more about choosing and caring for your roses. We meet on the second Sunday of the month except in December at the American Red Cross at 100 Edgewood Road, Classroom214, Asheville, NC 28804.