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Dream Rose Gardens Can Become Reality
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Magazines and catalogs have been pouring in all encouraging us to plant this and that. The gorgeous pictures make you dream about a rose garden at your home.
Nurseries and garden centers currently are getting bare-root roses in that can be planted with good success.
Roses are graded with 1 being the best, so look for those that are 1 to 1 1/2 to ensure getting a rose you will be happy with.
Set out plants when the soil is not wet. Improve the existing soil by adding large amounts of organic matter like compost or humus. By all means, plant on raised beds for good drainage.
Before planting bare-root roses, soak the roots overnight. Trim off any broken roots and prune the tips of any branches which may have been damaged.
Roses need five to six hours of direct sun each day. Morning sun is essential, but afternoon shade is tolerated. Good air movement helps the dew and rain dry quickly, thus discouraging disease.
Avoid planting under eaves or gutters where bushes can be damaged by falling water. Plant your roses where they are easy for you to watch and enjoy. This will also keep you aware of any insect or disease problems.
Dig the planting hole large enough and deep enough to accommodate all of the roots without crowding them. Mound soil in the bottom of the hole to form the shape of a cone. Carefully spread the roots over the firmed cone of soil.
Fill in with a mixture of equal parts organic matter and soil, packing the medium gently but firmly around the roots. Make sure the bud union (where the top of the plant was grafted to the rootstock) is at least 1 inch above the soil level to allow for settling.
Water the plant thoroughly to eliminate any air pockets. Watering with a soaker hose during the growing season will keep foliage dryer and help in disease control.
There are some great roses available from new hybrid teas, but these require a little more vigilance than antique roses which have stood the test of time. Some roses I would recommend for the beginner are Sunsprite, a gorgeous yellow floribunda, and a similar one called Sunflare.
The floribunda Simplicity is probably the most widely sold pink rose and is a great choice for not only the beginner but any lover of flowers. The shrub rose Carefree Beauty and a new one called Carefree Delight are also on the easy-to-grow lists.
Antique roses, those dating prior to 1867, are widely available. While being from yesteryear doesn't necessarily mean they are easy to grow, there are certainly some excellent choices. These include the scores of David Austin roses, and my experience says there are few, if any, failures in his selections. Some of my favorites are Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas and The Prince.
Since roses are repeat flowering shrubs, one should aim at building a well-shaped bushy plant, keeping in mind the natural height. In Mississippi, it is probably best to cut the rose back by 1/3 after the first year.
In subsequent years, cut out weak, twiggy growth and dead or diseased wood. As the bushes start to age, cut out some of the older wood to its base to make way for new growth. Branches can be cut back by 1/3 to 1/2 if needed, but light pruning or selective pruning with a natural growth is my preference.
Plant wisely now and you may have some blooms for Mother's Day.