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Growing Roses

Getting Over the Thorny Issues of Rose Care

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Picture of pink roses.

With apologies to Kierkegaard, do not let the thought of growing these handsome shrubs be a source of "fear and trembling."

David Beaulieu

Is growing roses simple? Well, while some varieties may be finicky, there need not be any great mystery, in general, surrounding the growing of this traditional favorite (although pruning roses, the subject of Page 2, can be tricky for the beginner). The formula for success is a well-known one, since it is a formula that the average landscape plant lives (or dies) by:

sun + water + drainage + rich soil = success in growing roses

Roses can range in form from miniature shrubs to sprawling climbers. Once you're committed to following the formula for growing roses, for maximum success you'll simply have to tweak the formula a bit and add some extras. For instance:

  • While roses like six hours of sun per day, it does matter what part of the day those six hours come from. Six hours of morning sun is preferable to six hours of afternoon sun, for two reasons:
    1. Rose foliage prefers to be dry. The quicker the dampness from the night is burned off the foliage, the less likely disease is to become a factor.
    2. The afternoon sun is often excessively hot. Roses profit from some afternoon shade.


  • To keep insect pests off your roses, try companion planting with garlic. And once per week, while watering your roses, mix some dishwashing soap into the water and apply this "insecticidal soap" to your bushes (of course, there are also true insecticidal soaps that you can buy).

  • As always, soil pH is a consideration. Roses grow best in a pH ranging from 6.5 to 6.8.

  • For fertilizing roses, a monthly feeding of rose food is recommended.

Care for Roses on the Landscape: Overwintering, Watering:

  • In cold climates roses can be mulched, but if you really want to make sure your shrubs are protected, practice a winterizing method called the "Minnesota Tip."

  • Roses need a lot of water (how much "a lot" is will depend, of course, on many factors). As in the case of sunlight hours (see above), not all rose-watering methods are created equal. On the average, it is best to water roses twice a week -- and to water them thoroughly. It would be better to water twice per week deeply than to apply four shallower, less thorough waterings over the same time period.

These are some of the basics of growing roses. Not too difficult, right? In fact, since there's a logical reason behind all these tips, they should be easy to remember. If you're still hesitant, Candy Oh! Vivid Red is an example of a type of Rosa that is particularly easy to grow.

On Page 2 we'll look at pruning techniques, as well as selecting roses and planting them in the ground properly in the first place....

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