What 6 years of Rose growing has thought me

shopshopsJuly 15, 2014

In the summer's heat, I pause to ponder my experiences with rose growing. My dream was to grow 100 roses intermingled with perennials. I will reach that goal in the Fall this year and will only replace any losses to maintain that number. Here are my learnt lessons.

1. It is a privelege and blessing to be able to afford a rose habit. Cherish those blessings.

2. Plan any purchases wisely in the winter. Buying 30 roses in one go on a bleak winter's day might seem like a great idea at the time. However, planting them in sweltering heat is no fun.

3. Listen to the experts! Dig and plan your planting area before the roses arrive. Know exactly where you will put those roses you purchase.

4. As with anything else, you usually get what you pay for. A $5.00 rose at a supermarket is often just that a $5 root system that will not stand up to the Texas heat and will yield mediocre blooms and foliage.

5. Find reputable, independent Rose nurseries and support them as much as possible so they will be around for future rose enthusiasts to enjoy. The ARE (Antique Rose Emporium) here in Texas has been a great source for most of my roses. They support their guarantee and will replace any reasonable rose losses. I recently bought Ascot (Thanks Nana Doll) and Bride's Dream from Palantine roses and was amazed at the huge bareroots they sent that just took off here despite being planted in March.

6. And last but not least: Enjoy your roses!!. If 20 roses will overwhelm you then plant 15. Only plant what you can enjoy and maintain. Better 20 beautiful roses than 60 battered and drab looking, unloved ones.

Happy rosing!!

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All very good ideas! I would only add that one should research carefully before purchasing or ordering any roses, to find out which ones will love your climate and conditions. That way you will have roses with less disease, needing way less care. Certain roses LOVE certain places. It has been my experience that the only way to really find out who they are for your garden is to get LOCAL advice from people who actually grow roses near you. This knowledge was gained by trial and error, and unfortunately is only available in a few places, like here on GW. If you believe the advertisements, or even the large rose societies, they will tell you that any roses will grow practically anywhere - this is complete nonsense.

I was lucky in that when I moved in, we had maybe 2 dozen roses which had survived in our garden for decades & decades without any care - all of the many others had died. So, I planted more of the survivors, or at least the same types. In my case, NONE of them were hybrid tea. Each location is different, and if you find out which types of roses love your climate & local conditions you will have a much happier rose experience.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:51PM
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shopshops, congratulations on reaching your goal this fall. I hope you have many more years of growing roses and learning about them. I hope the garden is even more beautiful than you hope. Gean

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:03PM
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ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9

The first few years didn't teach me too much except that I couldn't grow hybrid musks and noisettes, and that many perennials didn't do well here in the long run. Quite a few other roses didn't do well because of the intense radiation here, and because I didn't mulch enough.

With the past two drought years I've learned that a flourishing garden can turn into a rather sad place in spite of watering constantly. I've also learned to mulch heavily and to make a soil barrier around each rose to keep the water in. I've learned that roses that were not growing can be moved into afternoon shade and will then put out new growth. Shade trees are important and I wish I had more room for them.

The most important thing I've learned is to be adaptable, to search for new solutions and to live in hope. There's a chance we'll have a good winter rain season, although that doesn't change the fact that global warming is real and that the outlook for us is hotter and drier weather in the future. Fewer, larger and tougher plants are probably in my future, which is not to say that I still can't have a beautiful garden again.


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Thank you for the thoughtful and beautiful replies. Jackie you are right. Research, Research, Research. Fortunately most roses like it here in Texas with adequate watering, but research is essential especially in colder climates.

Thank you Gean. Gardening brings me so much joy! I am praying that rose rosette does not rear it's ugly head.

Ingrid I feel for you and so many of the California rose lovers. It was many of your posts together with Jeri and Hoovb, that inspired me to try my hand at roses in Texas. We also have our water challenges. However, there has been a little respite this year. I am praying that the drought will lift and once again your beautiful garden will be restored to it's former glory. Best wishes and many thanks.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 3:48PM
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nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

I love your first insight - we are all privileged to grow roses, and sometimes we need to just stop and enjoy what we have. If there's one bloom, there's more time to enjoy it!

The other most important insight I'd add is PATIENCE. Most roses worth growing will improve over time, particularly the old garden roses, and roses are not your best choice for instant gratification (that's why I interplant with annuals). Many rose problems will also resolve with patience, except for things like RRD, Japanese Beetles, and genuinely lousy plants for your zone. And even the Japanese Beetles will eventually fly away later in the season.

Thanks for sharing these insights!


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:01PM
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You are so right Cynthia! Patience is the key. Many good roses have been discarded that had they been left in ground one more year would have exploded with vigor.

By the way did you know Heirloom has a gorgeous Hybrid Tea with your name? My mum is called Cynthia so I just had to get it this year.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:13PM
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jardineratx(zone 8, Texas)

You have learned several very important considerations in growing roses and that will greatly reduce your stress and increase your satisfaction.
The greatest problem I encountered when I first started growing OGRs was that I had not anticipated their mature size and often did not provide enough space for each rose. I still have to fight the tendency to plant too closely, unfortunately.. This overcrowding stems from my desire to try so many different roses.
Trying to determine when it is time to shovel prune a rose is still a challenge for me, especially if I have not found a suitable new home for it.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:56AM
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Commiserations Molly. I am yet to learn the art of Shovel pruning. I guess I have been blessed with patience.....or bullet proof roses!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:18PM
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nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska

Thanks for the heads-up, shopshops. I've tried to grow Cynthia 3 times now, and once I actually got it to survive over one (mild) winter, but it really doesn't like my zone. Some hybrid teas do and some just won't tolerate it with any amount of babying. The same apparently goes for Cynthia Brooke, who I've tried twice. Maybe my name is attached to fussy-pants roses, NOT that there's any connection (smile).


    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:45PM
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Your post made me smile Cynthia . I'll just have to grow her for you.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 4:34PM
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I have learned to trust my instincts, ask questions when I don't know something or are unsure (that's where this forums comes into play) and don't sweat the small stuff, meaning things out of my control. And I'v learned to slow down and to seriously stop and smell the roses :).

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:52PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

O, forum maties, if only I, too, could become wise! instead, I'm still constantly over-extending myself,and don't take enough time to just enjoy. I've lost count of how many roses I have,and my big,big garden still has plenty of space yet to fill. This autumn I tell myself I'm going to seriously limit my rose order,especially since i have the biggest pot ghetto I've ever had,but even cutting things "to the bone", I'm still looking at a list of 50 some "new" roses (includes potted ones to be put out and moves). It's just that no one rose company has all the ones I want, so I'm "forced" to order from more than one company,and then of course one wants to make the most of the postage,plus support these fine nurseries, so I lose what little will power i have very quickly. So many intrigueing new varieties to try! So many varieties that have been on my wish list for many years but i have yet to actually get! And, so many that I already have in my garden that have delighted me so much that I think "gotta have more of THAT!!!" Here in my area, in Tuscany,Italy, there isn't much of a rose-gardening culture at all, so there are no locals to ask for advice. The nearest rose nursery that I know of, Rose Barni,is not one of my favourites because their emphasis is decidedly on floribundas and especially HT's,neither of which excite me much. My main field of interest is climbers and ramblers and OGRs,noisettes and Hybrid Musks...roses like that, with graceful plant habits...bart,the addict

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:21AM
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ms. violet grey

Bart your Tuscan garden sounds dreamy.
I'd love to see pictures.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 3:11PM
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Oh Bart! I do understand. After posting about my 100 rose limit I did a detailed body count including year of purchase. I am already at 97, and with 20 arriving in the Fall. I guess I'll have to stop at 130. But then 150 is a better number.....and think how the flying critters will love my garden.......yes we need to save the bees.... I could be water conservative and eliminate my lawn.....Ahhhhh the lure of roses. Here's to your dream Bart....and to all of us smitten ones!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:53PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

Maties, eventually i hope to put up some pics, but i'm not at all good with electronics ,down-or-is-it-up??? loading photos,etc.Shoot, I should do a site or something, and just post links...but again, I'd have to get my very DH to help me, and both of us are so swamped any more...so much goofing off in our younger days,now trying to make up for all that lost time...jiminey cricket,though, you gotta admit that life is grand!!!And it is good to know that I'm not the only crazy fool out there,feeling overloaded but still, yet...wanting more..just want to live forever,i guesss....love,bart

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Lilyfinch z7 mid tn

I totally agree with so much here. Especially what a blessing it is to be able to spend time and resources on our hobbies and passions when to others it isn't even an option.
One thing tho, I have to say is you can definitely err on the side of caution and learn from others and read a zillion reviews and opinions, or you can just try for yourself and see how it works for you ! You never know what gems your neighbor has passed on that may be wonderful for you! Or what duds you may get that are favorites to others. I am currently quarantining a golden celebration rose with the worst Blackspot ever. , that I swear I read was resistant ! :) Seil and her beautiful picture of it have me hopeful!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:28PM
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frances_in_nj(z6 NJ)

Well Bart, you know what they say - everything in moderation, including moderation, lol!!!! If there's one area where excess is kind of a good thing, its in the service of creating beauty - your garden must be so stunningly gorgeous! I too am constantly over-extending myself. Around this time of year when the weeds are really taking off, I'm reminded that I don't have nearly enough time to keep up with what I have, and yet you'll still catch me of an evening making lists of all the new roses I'm going to get next spring! I tell myself I'm running out of room, but we still have areas of lawn that poor DH has to mow, so really, I'm just being a good and considerate partner to be slowly but surely converting those areas of lawn to more garden space!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 4:13PM
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That's right Frances. I'm going to be out in my yard with the Round Up in a few days. Darned Bermuda grass or beautiful roses?. I say roses!!!!
Another lesson I have learnt: Bermuda grass will try to eat your roses! :-)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 1:47AM
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I'm a newbie rose grower, (less than a year), and so far the only things I've learned are:

1) Soil prep is a fine art that will make or break you; and

2) It's all too easy to order more roses than you can actually plant in a reasonable timeframe. Buy some cheap pots.


This post was edited by muscovyduckling on Tue, Jul 22, 14 at 22:08

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:05PM
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paparoseman(z8 WA. PO.)

Married and am building a NEW GARDEN from the ground up literally. I have a nicely mild climatically garden right next to Puget Sound where harsh weather is not a concern. And having made PLENTY of mistakes in my old garden with not spacing roses correctly or worse not leaving a way to get to some of the roses once they had reached their mature size the new garden has beds layed out in such a way as to make it easy to do routine maintenance in future years.

And this time a LOT of hummingbird friendly perennials are scattered thru the beds. Salvias and hardy upright growing fuchsias mainly with a few other plants as well.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Don't allow RoundUp or preemergent herbicides within 10 miles of your property and do not trust anyone to say they read the label on anything that will be used in your garden. Read it yourself, make the mix and instruct its use visually, completely.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:07PM
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