Roses, Part 1: The Selection and Planting

San Antonio Express News
Sunday, January 30, 2005

By Lynn Rawe

Across America, the rose is the favorite flower. The genus, Rosa, include hundreds, maybe thousands of species, including some that are native. Bloom, color, and fragrance are the major appeals of the popular flower. Some roses bloom almost year round while others produce massive blooms for several weeks. Some lend themselves to vines, masses, or a single specimen in the landscape.

You’ll find the best selection of roses in nurseries and garden centers during January and February. Gardeners can choose between bare-root plants or container plants.

Many of the newer varieties of roses available are more insect and disease resistant. Many of the “Old Roses” (also called Antique or “found” roses) are also more available. These are the famous roses you might have heard about that have been growing in cemeteries and old home stands, totally uncared for, yet thriving for years.

Bare-root plants should be planted as soon as time allows after purchase. If there is a delay of more than a few days, the shipping bag should be removed and the rose “heeled in” by covering the roots and part of the tops with loose soil or peat moss. The bare-root plant should be kept moist during the “heeling in” process.

Container grown roses can be planted at anytime, except during the hot summer months. Container grown roses typically would experience less planting shock than a bare-root plant. One gallon containers are usually too small for a normal sized, two-year old plant. A two or three gallon size is better and will have a healthier root system.

Roses are graded to standardized criteria. Homeowners will have a more vigorous and superior rose by choosing #1 or #1½ grade.

If plants are stored in warm temperatures, sprouting occurs almost immediately. Sprouting severely weaken the plant and may result in poor performance or death.

Prune any damaged canes and roots, whether roses are bare-root or container. Prune the tops back an inch or two to just above a live and healthy bud on each cane.

If you are planting only a few roses, dig individual holes. Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the natural spread of the roots, usually 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Organic matter is important. Mix one-third peat, pine bark or compost to the soil from the hole. Add a gallon or two of well-rotted manure and a half cup of bone meal to the soil mix. Firm the soil around each plant and water thoroughly. This will eliminate any air pockets and settle the soil. The level of the plant should be planted at the same level as the rose was growing in the container. Do not cover the crown (the grafted area) with soil.

Each rose will have a label that explains the proper spacing. Hybrids may require 3-5 foot spacing while climbers need 8-10 feet. Banksias and Cherokee should be spaced at 15 foot intervals. Overcrowding of plants will result in less airflow around each plant and increase disease problems.

Next week we will discuss the proper pruning and fertilizing procedures to make your roses look their very best. Between now and then, look for a sunny area in your landscape that would make a good home for a few beautiful rose plants. Clear the area of grass and weeds, and prepare the soil. Then visit your favorite nursery, and check out their selection of roses for this year. Much more information on the different varieties is available in both books and magazines, and on the Internet. Extension has a list of varieties that do well in the Bexar County area. If you would like a copy, please send a self-addressed, 37 cents stamped envelope to Rose Varieties, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 212, San Antonio, 78230.

This article was written by Lynn Rawe, Extension Agent-Horticulture, with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.


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