Roses are arguably the most recognizable and favorite flowers of the home gardener. With hundreds of cultivars, sizes and colors, one can find a rose plant to fit just about any need. Roses, though, are not the kind of plants that can be put into the ground, watered now and then, and forgotten. Roses are finicky but should not be considered a daunting task. With a few starting tips, everyone can add roses to their garden.
Pick the Right Rose
A rose by any other name might be just as sweet, but finding the right rose for your needs is a major first step. Choosing the right type for your space and needs is paramount to successful roses.
Hybrid teas are modern roses that are perfect for cutting. Hybrid teas grow one bloom per stem in many color or color combinations. They grow from 3 to 6 feet tall and bloom throughout the growing season.
Floribundas are more compact, shrub-like plants with multiple blooms on stems. Floribundas usually bloom vigorously throughout the season. Use them in gardens where you want masses of color.
Grandifloras are large, vigorous growers similar in bloom shape to hybrid teas but with a bushier plant. They have small clusters of large flowers, and the plants grow quite tall (up to 6 feet). They make excellent background plants.
Polyantha roses are compact busy plants with smaller blooms in large clusters. Their vigorous blooms last throughout the season. They make a good choice for containers, mass plantings and edging.
Miniature roses are small plants with tiny blooms, perfect for borders, containers or growing indoors.
Climbing roses have long shoots that can be trained to grow through arbors, trellises and other supports. Their canes can reach 5 to 20 feet long.
English roses are old-fashioned roses used as landscaping plants. They are loved for their shrubby foliage as well as their blooms
Know Your Plant's Needs
Roses generally need at least six hours of sunlight, though some varieties can handle less. Miniature roses, for example, when grown indoors thrive on bright, indirect sunlight. Roses prefer morning sunlight because it dries the foliage, protecting the leaves from diseases.
Soil should be loose and well-aerated with organic matter regularly worked into the soil. Avoid planting near fruit trees because of the possibility of cross-contamination in disease. Fertilize when the plant begins to sprout leaves each spring with a rose food or slow-release shrub fertilizer. Do not let the fertilizer touch the rose's trunk or foliage.
Know How to Prune
Taking garden shears to a rose can frighten even the most seasoned gardener, but roses need and thrive with a regular pruning. Use clean, sharp pruning shears and be sure to clean them with soap and water before moving on to another plant after pruning to avoid cross-contamination. Prune new plants back to about 6 to 8 inches from the graft after planting. Cut stems just above groupings of five leaves for best results when cutting flowers for arrangements or pruning bushes. Taking off too much foliage will slow down your bloom production and could harm the plant.