“We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie, American playwright 1888 – 1955.
Roses—one of my favorite flowering plants! My first experience with growing them came by me being too practical! As a young bride I loved the roses that my husband brought home to me but decided maybe he should buy bare root rose plants instead and we could save money and have our own rose garden; thus began a series of learning rose tips (and learning to not expect many more bouquets!!) There are many varieties of roses available, but don’t be fooled by other plants that have rose in the name. For example, the Desert Roses are actually a form of Succulent Plants.
In order to have beautiful, healthy plants with gorgeous flowers, first choose an open area of your garden or yard that gets approximately 6 hours of sunlight; this also helps avoid mildew or thrips (a type of insect). If roses have been planted in that location previously I recommend using fresh soil. I rototilled my chosen area thoroughly then decided where to place which roses, according to type, color arrangement, etc.
Soak a bare root rose in a pail of water before putting it in the ground; if it is a potted rose soak the plant well and allow it to sit until the ground is prepared. Since I wanted my roses to have plenty of sun and space for the roots to grow, I dug holes about 18 inches deep by 36 inches across (some sites recommend 15″ x 18″); my roses were stupendous!
Later, when the plants are in the ground and roots are taking hold, check the soil an inch below the surface to see if they need watered. If it is dry, soak them slowly to a depth of about 6 inches. Mist the plants as often as you can while they are getting rooted; continue misting daily until the new leaves are out. Once the rose bushes have fully leafed out, apply a fertilizer and again after the first 6 weeks. Check the package for regular fertilization tips. ‘Miracle-Gro Rose Plant Food’ gave exceptional results.
Mulching helps the plants to retain moisture, discourages weeds and keeps the roots cooler during hot days. Cultivate just the top soil so you do not damage roots but allow air to enter the soil. Roses should be transplanted in the early spring while the bushes remain dormant.
Raising Roses in Cold Climates
If you live in a cold climate, plant roses deeper (crown 1-2 inches below the surface), cover them well for winter—check with your local nursery on protection, fertilization, watering, spraying, misting and other tips. Choosing a variety of rose that is hardy in cold weather is a good way to reduce the risk of losing your plants during the cold season. Look for notes in the rose bush’s description that say “Hardy cold weather”. I’m not particularly familiar with growing roses in below zero weather.
Aphids are insects that live in colonies on the back of rose leaves and on the buds. They reproduce rapidly and can cause major damage to your plants. Liquid Castile or olive oil soap (in a spray bottle) will make an environmentally-friendly insecticidal spray that will kill aphids within an hour of spraying. When an hour has passed, gently rinse the roses with the water hose to wash off soap residue and dead bugs. This spray only kills on contact so you will have to repeat as necessary to keep the aphids down. Spray or dust for black spot and mildew as required (mildew can cause a loss of scent on the flower).
Caring for Miniature Roses Indoors
When most people think of rose bushes they think of gardens, but fortunately Roses also come in miniature versions that are beautiful on indoor plant stands and are great for patios as well. The care of miniature roses is very similar to that of full-sized roses, except that the potted miniatures may require more frequent watering, have fewer pest issues if kept indoors, and no rototilling required if grown in flower pots. Keeping those differences in mind, the plant health care tips here generally apply to both potted miniature and full-sized roses.
Unlike Cyclamen, Roses are not poisonous plants and aside from being cautious of the thorns around children and animals, there is no danger of having them in the house. Caring for roses indoors is more challenging than most houseplants. I do not recommend them in the list of Best Indoor Plants for Beginners, and they are not as easy to grow as African Violets; however, you may find it less stressful than Orchid care, at least in my opinion. Be sure that you place your potted roses near a window where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. If your roses start to fail, set them outside for a few days where they have plenty of light and fresh air (weather permitting).
Pruning your Rose Bushes
Prune for plant health, vigor and direction before new growth begins in the spring; also to get rid of diseases or weakened/damaged canes. Check carefully on pruning instructions before you use those shears!
If you like flowers in the house, early morning is the best time to cut roses—slice the flower stem at an angle using a sharp knife.
Rose Bouquets and the Symbolism of Colors
A rose from the florist shop usually has been engineered and bred for longevity and affordability at the cost of the fragrance, so if you want fragrant blooms you are better off growing your own roses. Many types of flowers are beautiful with roses, for example, the picture below shows the dramatic beauty of roses with Calla Lilies while a picture above shows a mixture of miniature and full-size pink roses. A current trend is to have multicolored or unusually colored rose flowers, but if you are buying rose seeds or bare root rose bushes be certain that the picture is not of a dyed rose or photoshopped for appeal. While searching for nice photos for this website I came across purple roses that were dyed and multicolored roses that were truly bred that way. Be sure to read labels and descriptions carefully before purchasing. With the wide varieties of colors and breeds of flowers that have been developed over centuries, people have attributed meanings to specific flowers. If you want to send flowers but aren’t sure whether your choice symbolizes the meaning you hope to convey, check with a florist.
- red rose means passionate love
- pink rose signifies appreciation
- peach or yellow roses indicate friendship and happiness
- Calla Lily is regal
- hydrangea is for perseverance
- pink tulips signify caring
- peonies are for healing
- both orchids and hibiscus (2 reputedly tropical plants) mean delicate beauty
Sources and Citations
http://www.rose.org/planting-roses – research source
http://www.rose.org/bare-root-roses – research source
http://www.raveplants.com/tips/rose-care.htm#Getting – research source
http://homeguides.sfgate.com/natural-control-aphids-roses-29990.html – research source
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/14/living/flowers-lose-scent – research source
http://www.rkdn.org/roses/colors.asp – research source