Thursday, March 15, 2012

Can You Grow Roses?

So, can you grow roses? The answer is of course you can! If you follow only most of the advice in this blog, you will certainly be able to grow the queen of flowers. If you follow all of our suggestions, you will have exhibition-quality blooms by the score, assuming, of course, that you can provide the right conditions.

As you will learn in planting category, roses have some basic requirements. You can get around some; others are impossible to circumvent. For instance, water, if you haven't a ready water supply or if you won't use what you have, don't plant roses, for they're insatiable drinkers. If you get little or no sun in your garden, roses probably aren't for you either, although we have seen people manage to produce sensational roses with what must surely be minimum direct sunlight.

If you have inherited rosebushes without knowing their history, the first thing you should do is find out what varieties they are. Plan to get rid of whatever you don't like and to coddle those you want to keep.

In some country, most modern rosebushes come with a metal I.D. somewhere near their bud union. Look for it. If the tag has been exposed to the elements for a long time, the paint may have weathered off. Even so, you can usually feel the letters, since most are stamped into the metallic disk. If there's no identification whatsoever, wait until the bush is in bloom; then either look it up in a blog or, better yet, if you live in America, ask an American Rose Society consulting rosarian to have a look.

Do not make the mistake of keeping varieties that you do not like. It makes no sense to give rosebushes the care they deserve if you are not swept away by their blooms. After all, the least expensive part of growing roses is buying plants. Bushes cost far less than the nutrients and spray materials they require, to say nothing of your valuable time while ministering to them.

Starts taking good care of whatever you keep, applying the tips from maintaining category, especially those on fertilizing. Regardless of when they were last fed, it's safe to assume that roses are hungry. They will be thirsty too.

Drastic measures might be necessary at pruning time, just to correct mistakes that someone else made. Neglected rosebushes have gnarled grayish brown wood that you should hack out without a second thought. Even if you have to lop off half the bush, get rid of wood that's past producing. Bushes that are too tall should be shortened and thinned; those that have been pruned too enthusiastically should be left alone to reach heights where they will bloom comfortably. Local rosarians will advise what to do to which, but start by taking pruning category to heart.

You just may have inherited some old roses in addition to modern varieties. We did. When we bought the property where we grow roses commercially, some dilapidated Victorian buildings came with it. The first time we looked at the old farmhouse, we noticed a huge rosebush on its west side. At first, we thought it was a hedge, but when we got closer we realized it was just one overgrown shrub. Even though we had no idea what variety it was, we made a mental note to take it out and replace it with something more civilized.

When pruning time rolled around and we stripped the bush to get a better look at it, we realized that we had better leave it just where it was since it camouflaged drainage and water pipes, and, more recently, propane flex-lines. We shaped the bush and left it alone. We have since learned that it is Rosa laevigata, better known as the Cherokee Rose-Georgia's state flower. It has five-petaled, white flowers and apple green foliage, and it is a sight to behold every May and early June (in subtropical climate).

Old rose varieties make their contribution to the garden, mostly in landscaping. We'd never give up our modern roses for them because we need a succession of blossoms from spring through fall. Most old garden roses have only one bloom-early, abundant, and spectacular-after which they're occasional repeaters.

If you are ready to add roses to your garden, we will suggest varieties to suit your particular landscape, tell you about growing roses in containers (a nice solution for those with limited space), suggest how to crowd in more rosebushes when you seem to have run out of space, mention the advantages of mixing varieties or sticking with one or two, and make some general comments about probable size and height of bushes, though you will learn that where you live makes a huge difference.

If you are an aspiring rosarian and have not yet established bad habits, you are the ideal reader of this blog. You can buy, plant, and maintain roses properly from the start. If you already grow roses, but aren't satisfied with them or their yield, you will find that it's not too late to adjust techniques. If nothing more, concentrate on the category on cutting and at least get extended life from the blooms you're already producing. Or if your bushes are disease ridden by midsummer every year, you might give in to trying chemical sprays, using the safe but effective spraying methods we suggest. If you're never going to be satisfied with the roses you have because they're the wrong varieties, it might be wise to replace some of them with surefire winners we propose in modern roses category.

Everyone has some place to grow roses. If nothing else, there can be a potted miniature on a window ledge, though we are going to try to talk you into much more.

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