Growing roses can be enjoyable and rewarding, but many people avoid them assuming they’re difficult. Perhaps you gave it a try once and were scared off by an unsuccessful experience. This doesn’t need to be the case, following some basic steps can help ensure success.
First you should decide where you want to plant your new rose. You’ll need a site that receives full sun, especially in the morning. Roses don’t like to have wet leaves and taking time to select a site where they can fully dry when the sun comes up will go a long way to preventing frustrating diseases later. Try to picture the size of your mature rose, and take care not to plant it too close to another shrub. You’ll also need well drained soil. If your yard has a lot of clay, amending your soil with manure or compost and mixing in some sand will help your roses grow beautifully.
Based on the planting site you selected you’ll need to decide what type of rose will work best for you. If your site is up against a fence or structure a climbing rose could be beautiful. Keep in mind you will have to tie the rose to a trellis or structure as it grows. If a climber isn’t the right choice, and you have a wide space to fill, a shrub rose could be an excellent choice. These usually require the least maintenance but still provide show stopping beauty. If you don’t mind a bit of extra pruning, a tea rose will provide the largest blooms and best cut flowers. Keep in mind that tea roses are the most susceptible to disease, but taking care to select a great plant can make a huge difference.
Selecting a great plant doesn’t have to be difficult. The easiest way to insure this is to find a good nursery in your area. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have, and steer you towards the plants that will work best for you. Most good nurseries will carry healthy plants that thrive best with a minimum of care. The price may be a bit higher than at a big-box store, but the money you’ll save on fungicide and pesticide more than compensates for the cost. When you enter the nursery ask for help. Explain to them that you’re new at roses and just getting started. If you don’t get a “warm fuzzy” from the staff, or someone isn’t willing to help you, just try another nursery. Good nurseries have employees that like helping shoppers.
Once you get your rose home you’ll need to prepare your planting hole. Dig a hole that is only as deep as the depth of the rose’s pot. Then make sure the hole is three times wider than it is deep. Plant roots spread to the sides, so this will ensure your roots have lots of room to grow. Remove your rose from the pot and place your rose in the hole. The root ball shouldn’t be lower than the surrounding soil. The top of the root ball should be either level with the surrounding soil or an inch or two higher. Now back fill the soil around the plant, if you have extra soil you can create a low moat around the outside of the root ball. This will help channel water into those growing roots! Water the soil thoroughly to make sure there aren’t any air pockets in the newly placed dirt.
So, you’ve planted your rose. Now how do you care for it so that it grows and blooms? Mulch is crucial. Place an inch or two of mulch over the newly planted area. You’ll want to place the mulch over the rose’s roots, but leave a few bare inches around the rose’s stem or plant base. Piling mulch up against the plant will cause rot. Make sure that your rose stays moist, but not soggy. Don’t water from overhead. Roses can develop disease if their leaves are frequently wet. Use a hand sprayer, drip irrigation or watering can to place the water directly on the ground. After a month or two your rose will be looking comfortable and happy in its new spot. Now is the time to purchase some rose fertilizer. Any fertilizer that says it’s appropriate for roses will be suitable. Just follow the package instructions exactly.
Following these simple guidelines will help you get healthy roses established. Over the next few months I’ll cover these and other issues in detail. Stay persistent and soon you’ll have beautiful flowers with the neighbor leaning over the fence asking how you grew such beautiful roses. Let the addiction begin!