It’s that time of year when garden centers fill their benches back up with a new crop of bare-root roses. Our crews have spent the last several weeks carefully pruning and planting several thousand of them so they can be taken home and lovingly planted in your gardens.
Please remember that roses are seasonal, and they are only ordered once a year. So when they are gone, they are gone until next year.
Here are some tips on how to grow fabulous roses in our maritime climate:
All of the varieties that we carry in the nursery are well suited for our climate, but if you see “disease resistant” on the label, you can be assured that they will do especially well. If you have roses that seem to be prone to diseases, don’t be afraid to tear them out or be willing to spray them several times a year.
A category of roses called landscape or shrub roses is almost completely disease-free and bullet-proof in the garden. Many of the Rugosas are also disease free.
We have so many wonderful varieties to choose from these days, you are sure to find one (or many!) that catch your eye and scream “Take me home!” Once you’ve selected those lucky few to bring home, set them in a very sunny location with good air circulation.
The roses have already been pruned, so you don’t have to worry about that.
When planting this time of year, expect some soil to fall away from the roots. Get them watered-in immediately and add some transplant fertilizer. You also can add a rose-planting soil mix to help them adjust to their new home.
For established roses, fertilize this month with an organic rose food — two cups isn’t too much since it acts very slowly — by scratching it into the soil around the base of the rose. Repeat this procedure after the first flush of blooms in late June. One more fertilization in late August completes the cycle.
When watering, roses respond best to watering from below. Make a watering well or basin around each plant — it’s an easy way to properly give them water. You should only have to fill it once or twice a month in the hot season.
The spring has a tendency to bring up some disease issues. The trick is to spray before you see any disease. It’s a whole lot easier to prevent mildew and black spot than it is to cure it. You can spray a fungicide after you see 6 to 8 inches of new growth. You should only need to spray three times a year, if done right. Do not spray Rugosa roses, as they will burn.
Spring also tends to bring up bug issues. You can try hosing off any infestations. There’s a great selection of natural and synthetic products you can use occasionally to help control those unwanted bugs. Bonide Rose RX (which contains neem oil, an oil extract from the seeds of the neem tree) is a helpful option that we recommend in the nursery. Releasing lady bugs is also a natural way to help.
In late May or early June, plan on picking some beautiful bouquets from your garden. Mix in some summer-blooming perennials and you’ll have a stunning, proudly homegrown lovely bouquet — to keep for yourself or share with a loved one.Tip: Nearly everybody loves a freshly picked, grown-with-love bouquet!
Once the romance of a blooming rose bush is gone, help them rest so they can be their best the following year. Around Thanksgiving, mulch your roses and prune them back to 2 feet tall for the winter. In mid to late March, finish the winter pruning by selecting four or five strong canes and cutting out any dead wood or crossing branches. Just remember: “Hip high in the fall, knee high in the spring.”
Roses are a classic addition to any garden or landscape. Have fun with the varieties you choose — and don’t be afraid to ask your local garden center staff for any help or information along the way!
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attend a free class all about growing roses 10 a.m. Feb. 22 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.