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BEAUTIFUL BEGINNINGS FOR ROSE LOVERS

Roses are the most beloved flowers in the world. Unfortunately, many people shy away from raising them for fear that these beauties are as temperamental as they are lovely. Never fear! Given a little care and lots of love, your rose garden will soon become a sea of fragrance and petals.

When to Plant, What to Choose

The idea planting time for roses in most regions of the country is early spring, when the soil is workable and the roses are still dormant.

When it comes to choosing roses you would like to raise, the possibilities become quite endless! These are the most popular varieties.

Hybrid Tea roses generally grow to a height of two to five feet. The buds open in a swirl of 50 or more petals, in almost every color of the rainbow, with a fragrance just as varied. Hybrid teas are a favorite in many gardens.

Floribundas are low-growing, bushy and produce sprays of blooms. They’re perfect for low borders and hedges.

Grandiflora roses, a cross between a floribunda and hybrid tea, exhibit beautiful, abundant buds on long stems. Grandifloras are taller than hybrid teas, and can be used in borders.

Climbing roses are actually long-caned counterparts to other roses. These canes can be trained onto trellises, fences and arbors.

Minature roses have the same color, fragrance and hardiness as their full-sized counterparts, but in a compact size, perfect indoors or out.

When selecting roses, it pays to shop carefully. Patronize reputable garden centers or high-quality mail-order nurseries. While the plants may cost a little more, you’ll know your roses are of high quality, well cared for, and not mishandled, mislabeled or root-pruned like stock usually found in discount or supermarket chains.

Location, Location, Location!

For roses, the most important thing is a sunny location. Roses need at least 6 hours per day, and morning sun is essential for burning off potentially harmful dew.

Roses like to be alone. Planted too close to trees or shrubs, your roses have to compete for important nutrients and moisture.

It’s also not a good idea to plant lots of perennials and bulbs around your roses either. This is because roses can crowd plants and flowers out. Perennials also host unwanted pests and disease. In addition, some plants may use your roses as a trellis, eventually choking your rose bush to death.

For best results, group roses together, or plant one alone in a sunny spot as a focal point.

Homecoming

Before you plant, prepare the soil for your roses’ “homecoming.” The soil should be rich and loamy, yet well-drained. Soil that is neutral or slightly acidic, with pH measuring between 6 and 6.8 is ideal.

Loosen and fertilize the soil to a depth of at least 18 inches, so feeder roots can become well established. Mix in plenty of organic materials, like compost, manure and sphagnum.

Watch their Diet

Roses are big feeders that need a steady supply of water and nutrients to keep them healthy and vigorous.

Look for fertilizer blended specifically for roses and use a hand cultivator to work into the soil, and apply according to package directions. An added bonus is fertilizers that contain insecticides and fungicides not only nourish your roses, but help protect them from disease and pests as well.

Roses are also picky about their water supply. On average, they need about an inch of water a week. Too much or too little water can harm the plants. And they like their water at the roots. Soaker hoses or water wands work the best, giving roses a long, cool drink.

For another watering option, punch a gallon milk container full of holes and bury it to the neck near the roots. Fill the container with water, and you have an ingenious root-watering system!

Bullies and Disease-Potential for Disaster

Of all the pests and diseases that can harm tender roses, the most common to look for are aphids and black spot.

Aphids are tiny green, black or red bugs that cluster on bud stems and feed on new growth, doing irreparable damage to the flowers. Combat these suckers by spraying roses with a soapy water solution. You can also repel these pests by planting garlic in your rose beds

Black spot is a disease that discolors leaves, causes them to drop, and can quickly defoliate a plant. To fight it, pluck off diseased leaves and spray the rest of the plant with a fungicidal spray. You can prevent black spot by planting roses several feet apart in full sun, not crowding the plants, and watering only at the base of the plant.

Get fanatical!

You may want to contact local rose or gardening clubs to inquire about membership. You can learn more about growing roses in your region of the country from a local expert.

You can also find a wealth of information on raising, cultivating and showing roses at your local library.

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