Start planting now so you can stop to smell your own roses all summer long

Late winter to early spring is perfect for planting roses. And with so many varieties to consider, there’s no time to waste.

  • Wednesday, February 28, 2024 1:30am
  • Life
The Easy Bee-zy rose from Knockout Roses. (Knockout Roses via Sunnyside Nursery)

The Easy Bee-zy rose from Knockout Roses. (Knockout Roses via Sunnyside Nursery)

By Trevor Cameron / The Golfing Gardener

The rose is a flower that has captured the imagination of gardeners for centuries, in all corners of the globe.

With a plethora of color choices and specific fragrances, roses have become symbols of many things in our culture: the red rose denotes love, lavender/blue ones bring mystery, yellow roses honor friendship, white ones symbolize purity or innocence, and orange flowers speak of passion.

With hundreds of options, choosing the right one can be overwhelming at times. There are certainly some great classic rose options that perform well in our local area, but each year new introductions offer us even more worthy choices.

Here are five of my favorites for the 2024 gardening season.

Quest for Zest: A new grandiflora-type rose from Weeks Roses that has a glowing yellow color with creamy tips and a delicious fruity, citrus fragrance.

Cosmic Clouds: A fabulous new shrub-type rose grown on its own roots for increased hardiness. Flowers are a rich magenta-purple with cream undersides and a strong fruity fragrance.

PowerPuff Pink: An exciting new floribunda-type rose from Star Roses and Plants that resembles a deep pink peony flower and has a pleasing moderate lemongrass fragrance.

Knockout Roses: These own root-type shrub roses are not as fragrant but offer a ton of summer bloom and are low maintenance. Two new colors in the series have been released, Orange Glow and Easy Bee-zy, both of which are outstanding.

David Austin Roses: These are the roses with intoxicating scents and the classic quartered rose look. All are excellent, but for 2024 a couple worth mentioning are Bring Me Sunshine and Nye Bevan, both of which have hints of myrrh in their fragrance.

Whether you are considering adding more roses or starting to use roses for the first time, always keep maintenance in mind, particularly treatments for diseases and insects. At Sunnyside Nursery, all the roses we stock are considered disease resistant. However, that never means immune, and almost all roses should be monitored during wet spring weather to keep issues such as powdery mildew and black spot to a minimum. If you wait until summer to catch up, you may be stuck for the season. If you are proactive and get on a regular treatment schedule, you will have much better luck.

There is no need to go the route of “murder, death, kill,” as I call it. The use of systemic or neonic products may be an easier option as they can be used less often, but these types of chemicals are surely hurting our pollinator friends, as well as our pets, wildlife and frankly even us humans.

Neem oil is the way to go for the rose, offering your plants a natural option to repel both diseases and insects of all kinds. Getting on a cycle of spraying a product such as the improved Captain Jack’s Rose Rx 4-1 Neem Oil is ideal, and you will not only help your garden (it can be used on many things in addition to roses) but it may make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside for going the safer, natural route.

New roses should be planted in a sunny, well-drained location with a good organic rose planting mix or compost used to amend your native soil. Ther are also excellent container specimens, offering a pop of summer color.

With either method of growing, fertilizer is the key — using a quality organic rose/flower food once a month from March through September is ideal. You may also want to incorporate epsom salts into this schedule — no, not the drug store kind, but magnesium sulfate from a nursery, which increases your bud count exponentially (and does this for many other plants, as well, by the way).

Alfalfa Meal is another wonderful rose product (and for other plants, too) that works wonders by adding vitamins, natural hormones and additional food, most importantly aiding in the development of new canes and a healthier overall plant.

Use these products regularly and your reward is maximum bloom. And remember, a well fed rose is a more vigorous and disease resistant rose.

Almost all roses will start their bloom cycles, in our area, by mid-May or so. Although there are some shrub roses that require less deadheading, pruning out spent flowers is key to promoting quick re-flowering cycles on roses throughout the growing season. Cut down the stems, at a spot above five leaves, to a bud facing away from the center to keep the plant open and airy.

We just passed President’s Day weekend, which brings up this good pruning tip for your existing roses: hip high in the fall (Veteran’s Day weekend or so) and knee high in the spring (President’s Day weekend or so). This rule of course does not apply to climbing roses, as we want them larger. Coming out of winter, remove all of the twiggy growth skinnier than a pencil, and strip away any remaining leaves, allowing for a fresh start.

Roses have always been, and will continue to be, a most rewarding shrub to grow in any landscape. Consider this fact: In the sun, there is simply no other shrub choice that will reward you with the flower power and fragrance of a rose. Weigh your options carefully and choose the right rose for you, hopefully keeping in mind color, disease resistance, fragrance and hardiness (like own-root, mentioned above).

Visit your local nursery now for maximum selection, as late winter to early spring is the ideal time to get them planted. I promise, soon you will be stopping all summer long to smell your very own roses.

Free class

Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville will host “Spring Lawn Care” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 9. For more information or to sign up, go to

Trevor Cameron is a certified professional horticulturist (CPH) and serves as general manager for Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. He can be reached at

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