Admit it. You’re hooked. You’re hooked on just about everything about roses — from the sweet fragrance to the beauty of the bloom to the overall majestic look of the entire plant.
And now. . . well, you’re determined that you will become a rose grower. Yes, you’ve heard they’re hard to grow . . . needed lots of care . . . just the right soil conditions and indeed even the right climate. But, still, you believe that they’re worth every bit of “trouble” that people told you they are.
Adjust Your Thinking
Before we go any farther, allow me a small adjustment to your thinking. True, specific species of roses are climate-sensitive, soil sensitive, even sunlight sensitive.
But the glorious aspect of it all: So many species of roses exist that –with just a little bit of research on your part — you can easily find a rose that will not only survive in your garden or yard — but actually thrive!
The Secret of the Climate Zones
If you believe that you live too far north to plant roses, then you’ve failed to discover the secret of the climate zones. You may hear experienced rose growers refer to it as the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Its purpose is clear. Broken down into 11 different climate zones, this map outlines the climate conditions for all 50 states.
You merely need to consult the map, which by the way you can easily find on the web at USDA hardiness map, to discover the zone in which you live.
The next step — as you might easily guess — is to ensure that the roses you’ve chosen are suited for your specific climate zone. Many times, you’ll discover this as you research your choices. At least you’ll receive “hints.” The descriptions will tell you if the rose is overly sensitive to cold, or prefers cooler weather. If these descriptions match your region fairly well, then you know to continue your research.
However, if the rose you’ve come to love can’t stand the cold and you live far north, it’s best to abandon your quest in favor of a similar, but hardier rose.
Some descriptions of roses actually cite the climate zones in which they thrive — this makes your final decision straightforward. If you can find no such descriptions, then the process might come down to paying strict attention to the growing instructions even before you purchase your rose. And one last hint — buy them from a reputable nursery.
You’ll be sure to find what climate zones your chosen rose need. If any of the zones match yours — BINGO! — you’ve got yourself a rose for your garden!
It is truly overwhelming if you’re just beginning.
Literally volumes have been written about the basics alone of growing roses. And as I delve more deeply into your new-found love, you can explore more books . . . as well as more online resources. But, I would hate for you to be paralyzed with information overload.
I’m presenting the necessities to get you started — enough to give you confidence in the beginning, but not so much as to scare you off this wonderful hobby.
First, you’ll want to decide where exactly you’re going to plant your new flowers. Of course, this was one of the questions you’re already pondering, so it really comes as no surprise.
Sun and roses
Let me tell you what a rose really needs in order to thrive. Every rose — no matter its kind — need six hours of sunlight daily, and more the better, in order to develop to their fullest. I can see you looking up at the sky now. Even as I write this I look out my window and see a dreary, cloudy day. My initial thought is that my roses are being deprived.
Relax. While, yes, roses do need six hours of sunlight a day, it doesn’t have to be continual sunlight. This may seem hard for some of us in certain parts of the country to realize, but every segment of the nation receives some clouds now and then.
And to be truthful, some roses really appreciate an array of different sunlight. Many types appreciate the morning sun, then prefer some midday shade before they’re ready to take in another burst of the afternoon sun. Six hours of sunlight may seem like quite a bit, but when you break it up like I just have . . . it’s really not so much.
Now, if you really have your heart set on growing roses and you know you just can’t provide a space with a minimum of six hours of sun, don’t give up. Not just yet at least.
Yes, it is possible to grow roses in an environment that offers less than six hours of sun. But what you’ll need to do upfront is “experiment” with several types of roses to see which particular kinds fill your needs.
The key to making this work is not to be disappointed when your first choice fails the test — because in all possibility it just might. You need to keep looking for the “ultimate rose” for your garden.
If you receive less than six hours of sun . . .
Start with a species of rose noted for tolerating shade. These include the alba and hybrid musk roses. While you’re choosing at this point, include in your search those flowers that are a little hardier and more disease-resistant than others.
I mention this with good reason, it’s not just a recommendation I throw out there lightly. Roses that thrive in the shade sometimes are noted for being more susceptible to developing diseases. So if you can find a rose that both tolerate the shade well and can stand up to diseases, you’re increasing the odds of its survival.
Roses don’t like soggy soil. It’s a fact. Despite the fact that roses grow best and are most beautiful when they receive a steady supply of moisture, they don’t grow well planted in soggy soil. Of course, most other flowers don’t either.
The places you don’t want to plant your roses are in those areas where the water tends to stand idle after a rain or those regions where the soil stays “squishy” under your feet for more than a few hours following a rain.
If you can’t find any areas like this around your house, don’t think you can’t raise roses. You’ll just have to improvise some. One way to solve this problem is by lifting the soil level through the building of raised flowerbeds.
Test your soil before you make your final decision
Specifically, you’ll want to know what the pH balance of the soil in which you’re planting your roses. If you’ve never done this before and are hesitant about doing this alone, then do what I did when I was unsure.
I called my local Cooperative Extension Service. Not only did they help me check the acidity and alkaline levels of my soil, but they gave me right-on advice about how to adjust them to make the soil “rose friendly.” They also helped me with adjusting nutrient levels in this area as well.
The level of your garden, I can’t emphasize enough, is a crucial step in ensuring the health of your roses. It’s much easier to take care of these matters before you physically plant your roses, then try to correct the situation while the roses are in the soil.