Whether reading a rose gardening handbook or discussing roses with another gardener, understanding proper rose terminology is always helpful. Learning several key terms is a good idea and can make your rose gardening experience much easier. Listed below are several easy to remember and commonly used terms.
A common phrase is whether the roses youíve purchased are "container grown" or "bare root" roses. Container grown roses simply come in a container and are usually actively growing or not dormant. They will often be purchased in a plastic pot that you will slide the rose out of before planting. Bare root roses are often purchased with their roots covered by a small plastic bag. The top of the rose is clipped back and this rose is dormant.
Roses are either "grafted" or grown on their "own root." Grafted means that your rose plant has a root from one type of rose stock with a different type of rose attached on top. Most roses available for purchase are grafted. Own root roses are simply that, roses that are the same whole rose from root to tip.
Grafted roses have a "bud or graft union," while own root roses do not. The graft union or bud union is where the root and upper growth of the rose were attached and combined into one plant. When planting your rose instructions will recommend that you plant your rose with the bud union at, below or above the soil line. If youíre planting an own root rose instructions indicate you should plant with the "crown" of the rose at, below or above the soil line. The crown is basically the area where the canes of the rose come together.
Depending on your climate you may be concerned about the "hardiness" of a particular rose. Hardiness is the term that describes whether or not your rose is likely to make it through the winter. If you live further north itís always a good idea to make sure the rose youíre selecting is hardy for your zone.
"Disease resistance" is an important term as it tells you how much a particular rose is affected by things such as black spot, powdery mildew, rust and other annoying rose problems. Itís always a good idea to look into the level of disease resistance a rose has before purchasing it for your garden. A rose with a high level of disease resistance will be easier to care for and require less spraying and aggravation.
Another term which is very important for new gardeners is "spacing." Spacing refers to the amount of distance you should leave between your newly planted rose and other plants in the garden. Though your new rose may look tiny and is difficult to envision full grown, spacing is very important to consider. If the rose's tag or on-line planting description for your rose recommends leaving a space of 3-4 ft on either side of your rose take it seriously. Nothing is more frustrating than having to transplant a large gorgeous rose specimen because it wasnít given enough growing room or spacing when first planted.
Iíll cover more common rose terminology in a future article. Understanding proper rose and gardening terminology is not only fun, but also makes rose gardening easier. In the meantime if you have any rose terminology questions feel free to drop me an e-mail or post your question on our roses forum.