A Good Place to Start: Ann’s Rose Philosophy
by Ann Hooper
There are lots of reasons people grow roses, and lots of roses to suit their needs. Perhaps you need a spot of season-long color in the perennial border, a blooming hedge, a climber to brighten a fence, or a continuing source of cut flowers. There are roses in every shape, size, and color, one (or more) of which will do the job. There really is a rose for everybody!
There is no real gardener anywhere who can attend a local rose show or visit a rosarian's garden and not be determined to go home and grow fabulous roses. The rose is our National Floral Emblem because nearly everyone likes roses, and almost every home owner in America has at least one rose plant on his property.
You really can’t look at a rose bloom and not be struck wondrous by the vibrancy of its color, the substance of its petals, the beauty of its stamens, the perfection and mathematical precision of its form. Although roses grow using the same natural chemical processes as all other plants, somehow those processes are more pronounced, more noticeable, more observable than they are in other plants. Watching a tiny bump on a rose cane develop into a stem and leaves and flowers is truly a miracle.
But let me warn you, roses are addictive! When you experience the color, fragrance, and perfection of glorious roses that you grew with your very own hands, you’ll want to plant a few more next year. And probably a few more after that.
Roses come in a wide array of colors and growth habits. They provide continuous color in the landscape, and they are wonderful as cut flowers and in arrangements with other flowers. Roses grow in all climates, and they grow the same way in all climates. It’s just the timing that’s different.
Many gardeners will be happy with a reliable rosebush or two, and others will find that growing fabulous roses makes a wonderful hobby. People who grow roses, and more particularly, rose hobbyists, are called rosarians. The term “rose grower” is usually reserved for commercial rose growers like Weeks Roses, who grow rose plants to sell. But gardeners who like to grow roses are rosarians.
No matter how many plants they grow, rosarians never tire of watching their roses thrive, of seeing the expressions on the faces of the bank teller, the dentist, and the guy at the post office when they present a few freshly cut roses from the garden, or of basking in the compliments of neighbors and friends.
Other people, even many gardeners, believe that anyone who can grow these fussy, time-consuming plants is a gardening genius with an extraordinarily green thumb. There is a mystique surrounding rose culture that a few crafty rosarians try to perpetuate by refusing to share their "secrets." But the truth is that roses are not mysterious plants, and they're not hard to grow. And most rosarians are happy to offer help and advice.
Like other plants, roses have certain requirements that must be met in order for them to thrive. Like other flowering plants, they like a sunny location, well drained soil, and water and fertilizer. Roses do, however, need just a little bit more than other perennials—more water, more fertilizer, more deadheading, and more pest control. But that’s just common sense. A plant that grows and blooms continually from spring until fall needs more food and water than a plant that blooms just for a few days or weeks and then rests for the remainder of the growing season. Deadheading—removing the spent flowers—makes way for new, fresh flowers to form more quickly. And pest control— think about it: Roses offer colorful flowers and luscious foliage that’s pleasing to people all season. Why wouldn’t they be attractive to a season’s worth of pests as well?
Pest control is easy and safe these days. As well, many of the newer rose varieties were bred to be resistant, or even immune, to the common fungal diseases—like blackspot and powdery mildew. Even if you love and want to grow some of the older varieties, rose diseases are easily controlled with materials that are safe for people and for the environment.
I believe that everyone should experience the joy of growing a perfect rose-- or better yet, a garden full of them! And I also believe that the pleasure you take from them obligates you to keep them strong, healthy, and flowerful all season long. If you want to plant a couple of roses and never think about them again, except to enjoy their colorful flowers from your window, choose varieties that require little or no maintenance, like our “Easy to Love” roses or our tough, disease-free, velvety-red ‘Home Run.’ But if you like to spend time in the garden and enjoy the satisfaction of bringing forth the most beautiful of all flowers, choose the varieties you love and nurture them! They’ll pay you back a hundredfold.
You'll find that you'll grow much better roses if you understand how they grow and why they need what they need, rather than just having someone tell you what to do and when to do it. You’ll find a wealth of rose culture information on our website.
It's been my experience with every "how-to" article I've ever read, that there is always a step or two may not be adequately explained. Or maybe—probably—I’m just dense. But sometimes you need to know EXACTLY how to do something as it relates to your situation. If you find that to be true, drop me an e-mail at any time. Just Ask Ann!