Archive date: March 8, 2001
Growing Beautiful Roses
Nashville Rose Society's Ten Steps to Growing Good Roses
- LOCATE BED FOR BEST GROWTH
The rose bed should be located away from trees and shrubs with at least
4-6 hours of sun per day, preferably morning sun. Good drainage is
essential - consider raised beds.
- PURCHASE ONLY #1 ROSE BUSHES
Grade #1 rose bushes that grow well in this area (Zone 6) and that are
highly rated by the American Rose Society will give you the best results.
- PLANT PROPERLY
Roses can be planted in the spring whenever the soil can be worked. Avoid
buying any waxed roses. If planting bare root roses ordered by mail, soak
them overnight in water. Dig holes approximately 18"W x 18"L x
18"D. Set the top 6" of soil to one side, discard the rest. To
the top 6" of soil add sand and organic mater (composted manure, peat
moss, rotten sawdust, leaf mold, etc.) to make a mixture of approximately
1/3 top soil, 1/3 sand, and 1/3 organic matter.
shovel-full of mixture in the bottom of the hole and add 1/3 cup Superphosphate
in one lump. Cover this with another shovel-full of soil mix. Place the roots
of the bush fanned out over this mix, making sure that the crown of the bush
will be at ground level or about 1" above ground. Fill the hole half full
with mix, slightly tamping the mix as you go, then water it in. Add the remaining
mix then add 2 cups of alfalfa meal on top. Water in well again. Cut canes back
to 8" at an outside facing eye. Completely cover bush with dampened mulch.
After the plant is well leafed out - around May 1 - use any balanced
fertilizer such as 10-10-10, Feritlome, or Ortho Food at the
manufacturer's recommended rate. Osmocote and Once are timed-release
fertilizers that are applied one time in the spring. Mills Mix is an
all-organic fertilizer that can be used in the spring and summer. Water
bushes well before fertilizing, then water again after working fertilizer
into the soil at the drip line. If using liquid fertilizers like Miracle
Grow, do not water after applying.
Watering is the most important aspect of growing roses. Water converts
fertilizers into a liquid form that can be absorbed by the plant's roots.
Water a minimum of once a week (applying a deep soak.) Water more often in
the heat of the summer. Three to four inches of mulch will help to retain
water and keep the roses cooler.
Public rose enemy #1 is blackspot (black spots on the leaves.) Start your
spray program in the spring when new leaves first begin to appear. Apply
Funginex, Immunox, or another fungicide every 14 days.
Use an insecticide only if you have an infestation. Orthene comes in liquid and
powder form and can be added to your Funginex or other fungicide. (Check the
label to make sure the chemicals you are using are compatible.) Orthenex is a
product that combines both an insecticide and fungicide, but should only be
used if you have an insect problem. Follow all label directions! Protect
yourself with goggles, respirator mask, gloves, long sleeves and long pants
Newly planted roses should be pruned very lightly (cut roses with very
short stems) until after the first bloom cycle. Better yet, remove only
faded blooms leaving as many leaves as possible. Leaves are like solar
collectors that provide energy for the bush.
You can build a bigger bush if you have will power. Most roses will produce two
side buds for every main bud. Snapping off the main bud will force the side
buds to grow and will increase the size and vigor of your bush.
- FALL CARE
After the end of August, continue watering but stop all fertilization. The
plant needs a gradual entrance into dormancy - any new growth might be
killed by early frost. This would be an added stress for even a healthy
plant going into winter.
One of the most important jobs in the rose garden is to get a soil test,
and fall is a great time to do it. Any corrections that need to be made
will have all winter to work.
After a minimum of two hard freezes (temperatures below 28 degrees) and
when roses become dormant cut them back to approximately 24-36" high.
The end of November is a good time to begin winterization, completing it
by mid-December. Mound mulch all around the crown of the plant to at least
10-12" high. Any organic mulch such as sawdust, manure, pine bark,
etc. can be used. Check the mulch in January and February and replenish
any that has washed down in the rains. Collars are useful to hold mulch in
- SPRING PRUNING FOR ESTABLISED ROSES
On or about the third week of March (depending on the weather), uncover
the roses very carefully so as not to disturb any new growth. A hose at
half speed will help remove the mulch. Prune the canes down one inch at a
time until you reach all the white wood, even if you have to go down to
the crown. At this time, you can work into the soil around the bush 1C of
alfalfa meal or 2C Mills Mix. Spray the bushes with a fungicide and an
insecticide and let dry. Re-cover the bushes with mulch. After the last
frost date (April 15-23), you can begin to gradually pull the mulch away
from the crown. Be careful not to damage any new growth. (White basal
breaks will be damaged by the sun, so they should remain covered until the
tips begin mature.)
As a Nashville Rose Society member, you will be assigned a Consulting Rosarian
- an experienced rose grower accredited by the American Rose Society - who will
contact you to offer help and advice. Membership in the Nashville Rose Socitey
is $15.00 a year and can be established by calling Anne Owen at 794-0138.