Roses or something else?

kriklafAugust 30, 2013

I've got a 3X12 bed at the front of my house that faces east. It receives sun from ~7 to ~12:00 and is completely shaded by the overhanging roof for the rest of the afternoon. This year I planted peppers and herbs there before realizing that the exterior paint on my 50s home is lead based - given all of the runoff and occasional paint chips in that bed, I'd rather not plant food there again.

I was thinking of planting roses there this winter, but I know they take a lot of feeding, a lot of water, and aren't exactly desert-friendly plants. Got any other suggestions for plants that might do well in a morning sun only environment? Or does anyone want to convince me that roses are not so bad in Tucson?

Or can anyone point me to a soil testing company that won't charge me an arm and a leg to test the lead content of the soil? My peppers and herbs did *great* in this bed - I still have healthy parsley!

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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

I don't think you have much to worry about whether or not there's lead in the soil. If your peppers and herbs did well there, I think I'd repeat those.

As for roses in that bed: A definite NO. What you describe is exactly what I have, a bed facing east and getting morning to noon sun. I planted roses there and had to take them all out. To say they didn't do well in that setting is a big understatement. I moved them farther east in the yard, away from the house and they've done much better. They always look horrible in summer; that's to be expected. But at least they bloom!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lead in soil: what it means

    Bookmark   August 30, 2013 at 7:27PM
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I have a rose bed facing east that has sun until noon or so and shade from a tree in the afternoon. They do fine. They look terrible in the summer but will recover when it finally finally gets cooler (is that ever going to happen?!?).

Try some old garden roses (OGRs) such as teas (NOT hybrid teas) and chinas which seem to tolerate the heat better. I have mostly old garden roses in the bed I mentioned and they are much easier to work with than modern hybrid teas and floribundas. You have to buy them online though. Try Antique Rose Emporium or Chamblees in Texas. Or Roses Unlimited.

It's crazy more people don't grow more OGR's here; have no idea why not. The nurseries don't usually grow them, as they are not commercially viable, I suppose. Teas can only be grown in warm climates so, in that sense we are lucky to be able to grow them here. Check them out!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 11:17AM
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Thanks for the feedback - I've got some time to decide what I want to do there, although I think my OH would prefer ornamentals of some sort to vegetables.

tomatofreak - your roses just didn't bloom? Or were disease prone?

jaspermplants - thanks for the advice on OGR - I'll check them out.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Eastern exposure is the preferred exposure for almost all non-native plants in the low desert. Local Phoenix nurseries used to carry a lot more Old Garden Roses several years ago but the average gardener left them in the nursery when they realized most OGR's want and need a few years to really get established, can require very little in the way of routine care and some get HUGE. I bought most of my OGR's locally in the late 90's. If you love the look and fragrance of the OGR's but want the quicker bloom and availability of buying locally, check the David Austin English roses when they come into the nurseries this winter. Like their OGR counterparts, some can take longer to establish, some get large, some stay small, some double as climbers. Bakers usually get the largest number of them in mid-January.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 2:03AM
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I haven't nearly as good luck with Austin roses as I have with old garden roses, particularly teas. I bought several Austins at Baker's this past winter and all but one has died. I find own root roses much easier to grow than grafted.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:20AM
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I prefer own-root, also, but most growers/distributors contract for grafted specimens. I haven't lost any more Austin's than any other type of rose and they are very, very popular anymore as many do so well in our climate. My personal preference on OGR's are Hybrid Perpetuals but if I only had one favorite rose, I probably wouldn't have needed the other 300 or so I've bought, lol.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:01PM
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