Roses have had an undeserved reputation of being hard to grow. I remember once mentioning to a friend who was starting a new garden that I grew roses in my herb plots. She threw up her hands and regaled me with a tale of woe about how hard they are to grow and how they need spraying and dusting and more care than she was willing to provide.
When I told her how little I did for my old fashioned roses she could hardly believe it. It is true that the hybrid tea roses of our grandparent’s generation were prone to disease and not very robust. But the newer shrub roses and English roses have been bred from hardy stock and require minimal care. that is why you should….
Buy a Rose For Your Garden
This time of year there are dozens of roses available at your local nurseries. Which one will work for you? And how can you pick a healthy one?
Let’s start with the question of which to buy. There are fourtypes of roses your are most likely to see:
- Traditional upright rose
- Shrub roses like the ‘Knockout’ rose
- Landscaping roses bred to form dense barriers
- Climbing roses with long canes that grow tall
Which group is for you depends on where you want the rose to grow. Got a spot where you want color but minimal care? A shrub rose would be good for that. Want a rose that can be a star in the garden and produce cut flowers? Try the traditional upright roses. How about something to climb a trellis or fence? That’s where the climbing roses belong.
Once you have a general idea of what type of rose you want it’s time to stroll the aisles at your local nursery to find one that appeals to you. Here are five things to look for when buying a rose:
- Look for signs of new growth – leaves at the tips and along the canes. It’s spring, after all.
- Hold out your hand, palm up with the fingers positioned as if you were carrying a food tray. This is the vase-shape you should see in the rose canes (branches).
- Read the label carefully. Pay attention to the predicted size and shape. Take the instructions about sunlight and water seriously.
- Avoid buying roses with only a couple of canes or obvious damage. They are too weak to give you healthy growth.
- Find a knotty thickening of the stem somewhere near the base of the rose you should see . This is the bud union between the flowering top and the root stock. If it is missing the rose is probably buried too deep. Don’t buy it.
Finding a Good Spot for Your New Rose
Select a spot for your rose where it will get good sun and freely circulating air (to minimize fungal disease). Before planting, remove any soil and soak the entire rose in water for an hour or two. Large trash cans are good for this. Remove from the water and do a quick assessment of the canes and roots. Clip off any that are damaged or broken.
Planting Your Rose
Dig a hole in a well-drained area of your garden. Sprinkle a balanced fertilizer in the soil before returning some of the soil back into the hole. Position your rose in the soil so that the knobby bud union at the base of the rose is a few inches above the natural soil line.
Return soil to the hole, holding the rose upright as you do this. Gently pull up on the rose if the bud union has sunk too low. Pat down the soil. When you’re all done, water the rose to eliminate air pockets in the soil. Do any last minute repositioning at this time.
You have now planted something that will shine in your garden and make you smile. Roses deserve a place in any garden. Make sure there’s room for roses in yours.