Rose, roses, roses

Published 5:44 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

One of my favorite flowers is the rose. Indeed, roses are America’s national flower and the most popular garden flower. Today there are more than 6,000 varieties ranging from antique roses to hybrid teas to climbers. You can plant a rose to be a specimen plant or plant in masses for a grand color display. They may be used in borders or hedges, on trellises, and in cut flower beds.

With thought and planning, most people can grow roses. Be warned, though, that some roses require much care. Find out about care requirements before you buy. There are two other things to keep in mind with roses: (1) buy the best quality roses you can find and (2) plant correctly in a suitable site.

Select a planting site that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Roses must have sun. They simply do not do well in shade. The site also needs to be well drained. The only rose that I know of that will take sitting in water is the swamp rose. Take a soil test before you plant to determine fertilizer and liming needs. When you plant a rose, dig a hole at least 6 inches deeper than the depth you plant the roses and twice the width of the pot. Mix the soil that comes out of the hole with composted material. Two parts soil should be mixed with one part compost. This could be from your own compost pile or it could be composted manure. Set plants in the hole on top of a mound made of the soil mix so that the bud union is just above ground level after the soil settles. Pack the soil around the rose and tamp it by hand to get rid of air pockets. Add mulch which will aid in controlling weeds, conserving moisture, and adding fertility. Apply mulches to a depth of 3 to 4 inches. Reapply organic mulches each year to keep the depth to 4 inches. Pine bark, coarse textured peat, pine straw, or well rotted strawy manure all are good mulches.

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If you have established roses, you need to prune them now if you have not already done so. They need to be pruned in January or February of each year before they put on new growth. Select three to five vigorous canes to be left to produce flowers. The amount of pruning varies greatly with the variety of rose. However, the first pruning should remove dead, damaged, or weak growth. For more information on pruning, call the Marengo County Extension Office at 334 295-5959.

In the last three years I have started planting antique roses and Knock Out Roses. Both are very disease resistant and hardy. Antique roses are classified as those that were grown prior to 1867. They are fragrant, disease resistant, and drought resistant. They are survivors. One example that almost everyone is familiar with is the Lady Banks rose.

If you want more information on roses, you can go to the ACES website at