There is no magical Green Thumb needed when it comes to growing roses, beautiful roses. Roses love water and a regular fertilizer feeding so keep these two factors in mind and your reward will be healthy plants with beautiful blossoms.
With over 2000 varieties of roses to choose from each with its own distinctive fragrance, selecting which to plant can be a difficult challenge. The plant’s growth habit and what’s it going to look like in your garden after its plant should be taken into consideration. Remember that soil types vary by region and that dark red color you get in the south may become a deep pink in the north.
Knowing the differences in varieties is also important, a climber or rambler, a hybrid tea, a floribunda or an ever bloomer all have distinctive growing conditions, so knowing what you are planting is very important. Select an area of your garden where you plan to plant your roses and know what your flowering blooms will look like to compliment the rest of the flower garden.
Organic rose gardening is simple and inexpensive. Despite their reputation for being fussy plants, most are very hardy and there is a huge number of rose varieties to choose from.
Wild or species roses
Wild roses are native to many parts of the northern hemisphere, including North America and Europe. Rose fossils 40 million years old have been found in Colorado. Strangely, they never seem to have crossed the equator and there is no evidence of wild roses that have appeared in the southern hemisphere until introduced by mankind.
The cultivation of roses began early with hybrids being created by cross-breeding. Many traits such as color varieties and larger, longer-lasting blooms have been bred into the roses that we see in gardens all over the world these days. Hybrid roses can be classified as either Old or Modern according to whether they were developed before or after 1867 when the first tea rose was bred.
The principles of organic gardening stress the importance of creating the right conditions for growth, with the aim of preventing rather than controlling pest attacks and disease. One important factor is companion plants – plants that will benefit your roses if grown nearby.
The best-known companion plants for roses are garlic and onions. Growing garlic between your bushes can have an amazing effect on your roses. However, some people are deterred by the smell, which is not what one might expect from a beautiful scented rose garden!
If this is an issue for you, alternative companion plants are marigolds, mignonettes, and any flowers from the allium (onion) family. Nasturtiums can be very helpful for aphid control, and rosemary and thyme will attract friendly insects.
Bush roses do not like to be crowded and should be planted about 2 feet apart, depending on full-grown size. Organic garden design favors planting in staggered spots rather than in formal rows. You will also fit more into your bed in this way. Climbing roses should be planted around 10 feet apart.
They will grow best in well-drained soil which is very slightly acidic – a pH of 6.5 is ideal. Well-composted humus can be used to adjust the pH value of the soil if necessary. Making your own compost is best since most bought compost is not sufficiently broken down for direct use on your organic garden. You can also buy organic rose fertilizer to apply during the growing season.
Soil and Water
Roses require many beneficial soil organisms to grow well. One example is mycorrhiza. This fungus attaches to the roots of rose bushes and other plants and grows to interconnect through the soil, providing something like a back-up root system for the plant. Many gardeners do not dig near to rose bushes to avoid disturbing the mycorrhiza networks.
Roses like a lot of water in the growing and flowering season but heavy, deep watering of the roots once or twice a week is much better for them than a little every day. Aim to supply at least 4 gallons per bush per watering.
Roses can grow from 10 inches to 36 inches tall in the miniature varieties to 2 feet high for dwarf roses and 2 to 3 feet high for hybrids and floribundas while climbers and ramblers can grow from 7 to 30 feet in length.
Again, make sure you know what you want to plant and where. Once that decision gas been made read your planting instructions carefully and talk with your local nursery owner, they will tend to give you the best advice on what will grow best in your particular region.
Knowing the blooming period is equally important because you will want more than the one rush of blooms during bloom time and more than the common three weeks of blossoms in June, you will of course want to enjoy your roses all summer and into fall. There are 5 basic things to remember when growing roses:
1. Roses should get plenty of sunshine ( 6 to 8 hours per day)
2. Plant them in rich loose soil with lots of nutrients (manure mixed into the soil with compost)
3. Nutrients I prefer dried blood and bone meal (found at garden centers or nurseries)
4. Water roses well, roses love water, so plant them in well-draining soil, and water at the base to avoid getting the leaves wet ( a drip or soaker hose is best )
5. Mulch well when and after planting, mulch will hold water in and keep weeds out.
A little tip: don’t plant all your roses at once, I prefer to plant a week or two apart, this lengthens my blooming time because you get a continuance of blooms because they don’t all bloom at once.
Diseases or pathogens are considered by organic gardeners to be a sign of suboptimal soil, climate, or garden planning. In the case of roses, some hybrid or grafted varieties are naturally weak and susceptible to disease. Choose a hardy variety and avoid grafted roses for the best disease resistance in an organic garden.
Pruning, especially if done to excess, also opens the door to pathogenic attack. When pruning, always cut at an angle to avoid creating a flat surface where rainwater can collect, holding spores and other organisms that will soak into the stem. Pruning is best done just before growth restarts in the spring (late February or March, depending on your climate).
The fungal disease black spot is hard to avoid but your roses can survive for many years in spite of it. Helpful preventive measures include providing plenty of air around the plant. Organic fungicides can be used in organic rose gardening immediately after pruning when the rose is most susceptible to attack, or if the problem becomes severe.
Insect Treatment and Prevention for Roses
Don’t wait until aphids or beetles to invite themselves to live in your rose garden! Insect treatment and prevention can be guarded against. Once aphids or beetles, the most common pesky insects to the rose have taken up residence they can be easily treated.
The best and most effective treatment is early ( at the first signs ) and from then on regularly.
Sucking insects such as aphids are very common to roses, they attach themselves to the tops and bottoms of leaves and sucking the juices of the plant, weakening it and causing it to be open to diseases.
If left untreated they will multiply quickly into a white mass and whatever you do, do not cut the flowers and take them inside.
With the trend in organic gardening so popular nowadays there are a variety of organic insecticidal soaps on the market and readily purchased at garden stores ( some people make their own ).
Malathion or Diazinon is still the most commonly used insecticide sprays. The most common beetle to the roses is the Japanese Beetle, they attack a blooming flower and destroy it.
Once aphids have eaten your leaves or beetles have devoured your blooms its usually too late, but not necessarily for the plant itself.
Organic gardeners use a garlic spray to ward off beetles and planting garlic near their roses as a companion plant may also deter them.
Japanese beetle spray is available on the market along with several systematic ( absorbed through the root system ) insecticides giving protection for several weeks.
Remember there are plenty of insects that like your roses as much as you love them, and some insects are the carriers of diseases that most roses are susceptible to.
Roses are plants that can suit anyone’s taste, so promote healthy growth with plenty of fertilizer and water, watch for signs of diseases and insect infestation then take the necessary actions for treatment.
Rose Hip Tips
If you have roses that sport lovely rose hips, do not deadhead your last crop of blooms. You will not only have rose hips to use for teas and preserves, but those left on your bushes will also provide food for such birds as the cedar waxwing and mockingbird.
Did you know that rose hips are a superb source of vitamin C? I vividly remember my mother talking to me about some of her experiences in England during World War II. At that time, citrus products were not readily available, so children were sent out to pick rose hips.
The hips were then given to the Ministry of Health who in turn made rose hip syrup that was provided free to all the children of England. She remembers, in particular, an Alexander rose – a flat rose that grew wild in the countryside.
Some of the roses that I know that will produce great hips are Ballerina, Iceberg, Mutabilis, Old Blush, and Seven Sisters.
Read also: When and Where to Plant Tulips?