Guest Author - Charity Armstrong
I donít know about you, though I very much love rose gardening, I also have a severe dislike of spraying my roses. Iím always trying to figure out a way to get out of it, mainly by attempting to forecast impending rain storms that would cause spraying at the current moment to be impractical. This is why I was so excited to learn about Earth Kind Roses. Maybe these carefree roses could even enable some of us to purchase extra plants that we otherwise wouldnít have the time to care for!
Earth Kind Roses is a program that was developed by the Agriculture department at Texas A&M University. These individuals wanted to find a way to make rose gardening an easier and friendlier past time for both the humans caring for them and our planet. As part of their program tons of roses undergo rigorous testing for at least five years. The plants receive terrible care that most rose enthusiasts would never put a plant through and the horticultural experts at the university still expect gorgeous blooms in the process. The roses are grown using various soils in Texas from sand to clay, and should perform well throughout most of the United States.
During the test period the Earth Kind Roses Were:
-Grown in soil of high alkalinity, which is typically unsuitable for roses
-Grown without fertilizer
-Never sprayed with any pesticides, fungicides or chemicals
-Only given additional water (besides rain) for the first year
-Pruning was done only to remove dead wood, so no removal of rose hips
In order for a rose to make Texas A&Mís list as an Earth Kind Rose these roses had to not only still be alive after five years of such treatment, but they still had to maintain the majority of their leaves disease free. They also had to provide blooms throughout the growing season. After reading this my first thought was how could any rose still be alive and blooming after all that? Then I examined their list. Granted there are only eleven roses right now, but as their research continues new roses are added. Of the eleven there are several climbers, teas, shrub roses and some smaller low growing sizes as well. They also have several links to mail order growers that carry these eleven roses.
I plan to order about four in the spring and give them a try. What do I have to loose? They canít turn out any worse than some box store varieties Iíve attempted in the past. If you choose to plant one of these roses, and then decide to try and follow their list of approved management methods you can participate in their research. Some requirements include using only organic gardening and making sure your roses have eight full hours of sun a day. The full list of requirements is on their website, which is where you also send them yearly updates on the health of your roses. It could be fun and guilt lessening to say you donít spray for research purposes!
Iíll give everyone an update next fall on how my growing experience turns out. Best of luck to everyone with their winter catalog order, no matter what varieties you chose. Even in the midst of the dreary winter doldrums, spring and beautiful roses are just around the corner! Maybe this year there will be a bit less work involved, and more time to stop and smell the roses.
The Earth Kind Roses website, which also gives links to purchase locations is listed below.