Beginner’s Guide to Growing Roses

Reader Contribution by Michael Feldmann
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Photo by Mio Ito on Unsplash

Roses are some of the most popular and beautiful flowering shrubs grown. From potted small miniatures to beautiful outdoor clumps all covered with plentiful blooms, there are seemingly countless varieties of roses for the home garden with an enchanting array of colors and aromas. Growing roses is actually not as difficult as you may think and is certainly worth the effort for those who take pride in showy blooms.

Selecting. There are more than 150 species many hundreds of cultivars. Breeders are constantly continuing to develop new varieties with brighter colors and rich aromas. The ‘Robin Hood’ Rose is especially suitable and can bloom six months each year. New varieties exist that can be grown as a hedge. The most important condition for abundant flowering of the bush is a place for planting.

Siting. Roses are sensitive to light and heat, which means that they need to be planted in places well-lit and reliably protected from cold winds. The best place is the south and southeast side of the plot, for the rose enjoys the morning and afternoon sun. Shady spots are suitable only for climbing varieties.

Planting from potted rose plants. Roses can be purchased as small potted plants or grown from seeds or cuttings. Seeds can also be used to propagate roses, but cuttings are faster and easier. Potted plants are more expensive but are a simpler way to start a rose garden. Plant roses in the spring. The size of the hole in which you plant your roses is one of the key factors to getting them off to a good start. Whether you are planting bare-root or container roses, you need to dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s roots and to allow for good drainage, since roses don’t like wet feet.

If you are planting several rose bushes together, space them at least 3 feet apart to give the plant ample growing room as it matures. Roses are thermophilic plants, and as soon as the soil has warmed up well, but the buds have not yet blossomed, you can plant. Before planting, carefully inspect the roots: Cut off all damaged parts to living tissue, leave the remaining roots no more than 20 centimeters long.

Shorten the shoots on the bush. Leave strong shoots with six buds, medium-strength shoots with three buds, and cut weak and dried out shoots completely. There are a couple of methods for growing roses from pieces.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels

Planting from rose stem cuttings. Most rose varieties grow well from stem cuttings. A cutting from a healthy, productive stem can produce its own root system and quickly grow into a new flowering bush. Although you can take cuttings throughout the year, those taken in late winter and early spring do well, because the plant is about to start sending out its new growth during this time. Four to 6-inch pieces of rose stem root easily when inserted in a potted mix and covered with a plastic bag to increase humidity. Cuttings root in about 8 weeks or when new growth starts.

Propagating using potatoes. The new plants can be planted out in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Cuttings can also be easily rooted in plain potatoes. Stem pieces with a 45-degree cut end dipped in honey or rooting hormone should be inserted in a potato scored with a screwdriver beforehand. Even stem cuttings from bouquets can be used. The potatoes should be planted out in pots or in the garden and covered with a jar or plastic bag.

Watering. Soil, temperature, and the surrounding plants affect how much water a rose needs. In temperate climates, weekly watering is usually enough. Two inches of water a week (4 to 5 gallons) may be all that is needed. If the soil is sandy or the garden is hot, dry, or windy, more frequent watering may be necessary. Care needs to be taken in areas where the soil holds a lot of moisture, as too much water can promote root rot.

Soil considerations. Rose bushes must also be located in well-drained, fertile soil. You can grow roses on any type of soil, with the exception of marshy and salt marshes. Loam is ideal soil for a rose. Loam is moderately loose, that is, it is able to pass air well, absorbs and retains water and the fertile layer well for about 10 centimeters. Roses must be located in well-drained, and fertile soils.

Mulching. The soil under the roses can be mulched. This provides additional nutrition, improves the soil structure, retains moisture in it, and dramatically reduces the number of weeds. It is good to use shredded straw, rotted manure, leaf humus, compost. Using tree park or nut shells will decorate the flower bed. Mulch the soil under the roses every spring as soon as the earth warms up and enough moisture is still stored in it. (The site should already be clear of weeds.)

Fertlizing. Though roses can thrive even when neglected, fertilizing would keep them healthy and blooming. So, it’s best to fertilize on a regular basis. A store-bought fertilizer specific for roses is great. But there are also numerous homemade methods that can also be used. For example, banana peels supply potassium, the nutrient that promotes blooming. Just bury some banana peels at the base of the plant. Epsom salt, vinegar, kelp, molasses, and powdered fish are also good fertilizers.

A good rose fertilizer recipe is to combine 3 cups water, 2 tablespoons of molasses, 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of kelp extract, and 2 tablespoons of powdered fish. Eight cups of the resulting fertilizer should be applied in summer at evening after the roses have been watered. The process can be repeated at the end of summer to encourage blooming till fall or winter.

The health and vigor of your roses depend on two things: the weather and the cultural practices you follow. The first you can’t control, but the second one you can. Roses prefer a planting site with good drainage and ventilation. Avoid shady spots and dense plantings. Good air circulation helps the leaf surfaces dry faster, which helps prevent disease. Good luck getting started.

Michael Feldmann is a journalist and garden writer with a serious enthusiasm for growing roses.

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