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Tips for Choosing and Growing Local Roses

What better way to enjoy the romance of the garden than by growing roses? Rose gardening has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Growing roses doesn’t have to be a challenge. Choose the right plant for your garden and you’re halfway to having a spectacular rose garden. Learn the basics of caring for roses and your gardens will be the envy of the neighborhood.

In a nutshell, there are four magic ingredients for making your roses happy and your garden a reality.

  1. The Soil

Roses prefer a soil pH ranging from 6.5 to 6.8. It is important to use “Soil Sulfur” every spring and Watters acidifying “All Purpose Plant Food” 7-4-4 every other month during the growing season. Soils with good drainage are best. When improving the soil, it is important to incorporate additional soil amendments. Incorporate Watters “Premium Mulch” into the planting hole for best garden drainage and better blooms.

  1. Irrigation

Water requirements vary depending on season and condition. Deep water rose bushes twice weekly for a good start. Monitor the health and vigor of your plants and adjust as conditions require. Roses need to breathe between water cycles. It is best to err on the dry side rather than soaking wet. Older roses appreciate deep watering once a week during the growing season. Add them to the irrigation system that takes care of your trees and they will truly be happy. Morning water is best. Avoid late evening irrigation, which could foster powdery mildew.


  1. Spacing

Grouping your roses too close together may foster powdery mildew as well. Let your roses breathe; don’t plant them too close together. Follow spacing requirements for each particular variety when planting rose bushes. Roses planted with four-foot spacing is a good start.

  1. Sun

Give your roses at least six hours of sunlight each day. If possible, let the morning provide the bulk of those six hours, since the afternoon sun can cause flowers to fade sooner than a cooler exposure.


Which Rose is Right for Me?

Roses can be grown in any location, and there are sizes that accommodate any landscape environment. This will help you choose the right variety for your own garden. There are too many sub-varieties to list here, but there are four major rose types for this column.


Bush Roses are the largest category. A familiar example of a bush rose is a hybrid tea, the most popular variety in the U.S. today. New colors are introduced every year. They are reliable and easy to care for and not as delicate as some bushes, so they are good for even new gardeners. The one drawback of some hybrid teas is their reduced fragrance, even though this group has the largest individual flowers of other roses.


Climbing Roses

The name is actually a misnomer. Roses do not actually climb. Their long canes can be attached to supports like trellises and arbors. There are two main types of climbers: large climbers, with thick canes that bloom all season like the Josephs Coat Rose; the second type of climber is the rambler with thinner canes and heavy clusters of flowers that cover the plant in early spring. A good example here would be a Lady Banks Rose.


Shrub Roses

These are hardy and super easy to grow. They grow upright and have numerous canes that are often trimmed to create a sturdy hedge. They self-prune and set new flower buds all by themselves making shrub roses the perfect hardy landscape shrub and a far more attractive deterrent than a metal fence ever dreamed of being.


Groundcover Roses

This variety has a creeping habit. Its canes produce low mounds of roses. Much like the shrub rose, groundcover roses repeatedly bloom without care from their owners. Growing only to knee high, they make excellent colored accents to soften rock lawns, yet they are small enough to enjoy in container and raised bed gardens.

You have to stop and smell the roses here at Watters Garden Center. No other flower elicits such universal pleasure.


Until next issue, I’ll be helping rose gardeners here at Watters Garden Center. QCBN

By Ken Lain

Ken Lain, the mountain gardener, can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at or Until next issue, I’ll see you in the garden center.


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