People love roses (it's no wonder they're our national flower) and many wish they could include them in their gardens. Unfortunately, roses have the reputation of being difficult to grow, and that they don't bloom well unless you make regular applications of fertilizer and pesticides. This just isn't true. Growing roses can be fun, environmentally friendly, and rewarding when you choose the right roses for your garden and know how to keep them healthy. NGA's Web site, garden.org, has loads of information on caring for roses, from selecting plants to pruning, and details about growing specific types such as shrub roses and antique roses. Most importantly, we can tell you how grow roses successfully without using dangerous pesticides.
During National Garden Month®, we encourage everyone to plant roses. Our National Garden Month partner, "Remember Me" Rose Gardens (www.remember-me-rose.org), sets the example by planting rose gardens near the three September 11th crash sites as a way to remember the victims of those attacks. To celebrate the New York City GROWS Garden Festival on April 28th, 2007, in Union Square Park South Plaza, another NGM partner, All-America Rose Selections (www.rose.org), will donate a 30-plant rose garden to a public elementary school in New York City as part of their sponsorship of NGA's Adopt a School Garden Program (www.garden.org/asg). AARS also sponsors NGA's "Remember Me" Rose School Garden Awards that provide rose bushes to 20 more schools throughout the country!
Want to join in the fun? Here's how to choose a rose and keep it healthy — the natural way.
Select varieties that are adapted to and hardy in your growing region. Look for disease-resistant varieties such as 'Bonica', 'Carefree Wonder', 'Cecile Brunner', 'Livin' Easy', 'Martha Gonzales', and 'Old Blush' to reduce the need for pesticides.
Certain characteristics indicate how susceptible a rose might be to insect attack. For instance, light-colored roses (whites, yellows, and pinks) are the most attractive to pests. As a rule, modern roses (such as hybrids teas) are also pests' first choice. Their blossoms feature high, pointed centers and tightly packed petals where pests can hide, making the critters more difficult to keep in check. Shrub, species, and old-fashioned roses have more open flowers and branching habits, making pests easier to spot and control.
Roses require at least six hours of direct sun per day to flower well. Ideally, the location should provide good air circulation and receive morning sun to help dew dry early in the day, which can minimize disease problems.
Roses are rather finicky about soil, so it's a good idea to have your soil tested prior to planting. Most university extension services will do this for a nominal charge. A healthy soil grows healthy plants that will have fewer problems. Amend the soil with compost and fertilizer as recommended by test results. If you grow roses in containers, use potting soil and time-release fertilizers for best results.
To help roses establish a sturdy root system, moisten the soil to a depth of 18 inches every week during the growing season. When rainfall is inadequate, soak the soil by hand with a garden hose, or put the roses on a soaker hose or drip irrigation system set on a timer.
Fertilize when new growth first starts in the spring and again in midseason with a natural formulation that feeds the soil as well as the plant.
Even if you follow all these guidelines, this is nature we're dealing with, so you may still have problems with insects and diseases. Here are some kid-, pet-, and environmentally friendly products we recommend to keep your roses looking good.Disease Controls
Now go and GROW a rose or two - with confidence!