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Life can be a bed of roses...when you plant a rose garden
If you are new to Yuma, or new to gardening, the perfect plants to grow are roses. Does that surprise you?
Many people think roses are too delicate for Yuma's summers or take too much care; but, actually, they grow well here and bloom beautifully throughout fall and early spring. As for care, an annual pruning during winter and fertilizing during their growing season are about all it takes.
“I have 18 hybrid tea roses in my garden,” said Tim Timmerman, Yuma Garden Club member. “They're all my favorites, but I am partial to Double Delight, Golden Girl, Gingersnap, Queen Elizabeth and Mr. Lincoln. Roses are not a lot of trouble and sure make a beautiful garden.”
Elizabeth Moody, long-time gardener and garden club member, has her favorites: “I enjoy growing Chrysler Imperial, Mr. Lincoln, Peace and Fragrant Cloud.”
Rose cultivation began as early as 5,000 years ago in the part of China that is now Iraq. By the early 1800s, roses were taken from China to Europe. China's roses bloomed repeatedly, unlike European varieties which bloomed just once a year. Breeders crossed Chinese roses with European roses, beginning the hybridization of roses which continues today.
The first hybrid tea rose, La France, was introduced by Guillot of France in 1867. Roses are so popular in America that in 1987, Congress adopted the rose over the marigold as our national flower.
Besides hybrid tea roses, many gardeners enjoy growing floribunda roses. Originally called hybrid polyanthas, they are smaller rose bushes sporting clusters of blooms at the tips of their branches. Angel Face, Simplicity and Playboy are floribundas which grow well here.
The grandiflora class was first created for the Queen Elizabeth rose introduced in 1954. This rose is a combination of a hybrid tea and a floribunda with large, multi-petaled blooms. Gold Medal and Arizona are grandifloras.
Heritage roses, also called classic or antique roses, are varieties which existed prior to 1867. They include wild roses, mosses, bourbons, alba and damasks. Lady Banks, Rose de Rescht and Evelyn are heritage roses.
Once established, miniature roses such as Arizona Sunset, Fairhope and Miss Flippins are very hardy. There are even climbing miniatures such as Red Cascade, Climbing Earthquake and Rollercoaster.
Shrub roses include Knock Out, Abraham Darby and Starry Night. They are continual bloomers and make thick hedges when planted close together.
True polyantha roses are low-growing bushes with clusters of small blooms which are often used as ground covers. Cecile Brunner, China Doll and The Fairy are popular polyanthas.
Climbing roses are easy to grow but need a trellis to support their canes. They are repeat bloomers and range in height from 8 to 20 feet. Fourth of July, Dublin Bay and Berries ‘n' Cream do well here.
If you would like to grow an antique climber with an interesting history, try Peggy Martin. This rose was growing in Peggy Martin's rose garden when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. After weeks under seawater, this hardy rose was still alive.
Dr. Bill Welch shared cuttings with six growers who have made Peggy Martin available to rose lovers everywhere. Each grower is donating $1 per plant to the Greater Houston Community Foundation to assist in garden restoration projects in New Orleans, Beaumont and other Gulf Coast locations.
“If you want a fast-growing climber, Peggy Martin is a good choice,” said Mike Shoup, owner of The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, Texas. “It blooms continually in spring and some in fall and is covered with beautiful, pink flowers. Like all climbers, you have to attach it to the arbor or fence you wish it to grow on.
“It is easy to work with since there are no thorns on the canes. However, underneath the leaves are small thorns that can prick you. I highly recommend this rose and offer it online (weareroses.com).”
When planting roses, remember they need at least six hours of sunlight. In Yuma, afternoon shade helps roses remain healthy throughout our hot summer months. Proper spacing between roses is important to allow air circulation and reduce leaf diseases, such as powdery mildew. Polyanthas and miniatures are planted 1-3 feet apart, shrubs 2-4 feet, hybrid teas, grandifloras and heritage roses 3-5 feet and climbers 6-10 feet.
“No. 1 roses have three or more canes the size of a pencil and are the highest-quality roses you can purchase,” Mary Lou Milstead, garden club member, explained. “If you plant lesser quality roses, it takes 2-3 years for them to catch up with No. 1 roses. Plant during January and February while they are dormant.”
Nurseries carry both bare root and container roses. A bare root rose needs to be soaked overnight in a bucket of water before planting. Dig a hole shallow enough to keep the bud union (where the rose was grafted onto root stock) two inches above the soil line. The hole should be wide enough to allow the roots to be easily spread out.
Form a mound of dirt in the bottom of the hole and add bone meal. Place the rose on top of the mound and spread its roots evenly around the mound. Fill in the hole with a mix of soil and compost; water well. Once the soil has settled, add more soil, if needed, and water again. Keep the roots damp until the plant is established.
To plant a container rose, dig a hole that allows the rose to be slightly higher than soil level and that is twice as wide as the container. Add bone meal in the bottom of the hole. Place the rose in the hole and backfill with a mixture of soil and compost. A 2-4 inch layer of mulch will help keep the soil temperature stable and suppress weed growth.
Fertilize roses from February to April and September to November. Don't over-fertilize or your roses will have plenty of healthy foliage but fewer blooms. Water plants at soil level to keep water off their leaves and help eliminate disease problems.
If a rose has leaves that look like powder has been sprinkled on them, it probably has powdery mildew, a fungal disease. An easy remedy is to mix 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon cooking oil and 1 quart warm water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray infected leaves. Commercial sulfur dusts will also control powdery mildew.
Aphids are another problem. They pierce new growth and suck out the plant's fluids. The easiest way to control aphids is to spray the plant with a very strong spray of water. Using a systemic fertilizer also helps.
To keep roses blooming, prune roses back 1/3 of their size in late January or February. Climbers bloom on secondary canes. When pruning climbers, remove all but 5-7 secondary canes which are growing in the direction you desire the rose to grow.
Growing roses in your garden adds a special touch of color and aroma no other plants can match. Life really can be a bed of roses when you plant a rose garden.
Karen Bowen is a master gardener and member of Yuma Garden Club. This column is sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma.