Sooner or later most home gardeners think about growing roses. Landscape uses are quite varied because of the many different types of roses. They can be mass planted in beds, used as specimen or trained plants, planted as screens or hedges, or located near fences or arbors and allowed to climb. Several miniature cultivars can even be used as a ground cover or as edging material. Roses are available in almost any color imaginable and are suited to a number of sites.
Performances of different types of roses should be evaluated. The most common classifications of modern roses today are hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, climber, miniature and shrub roses. These descended in part from eight species of roses which came to Europe from Asia in the 16th century. They became the modern hybrids, principally because they were able to bloom repeatedly throughout the growing season. Most of the other species only bloom once, in June or July.
Hybrid Teas are the most popular garden roses. They are results of interbreeding the hybrid perpetual with tea rose cultivars. Hybrid tea roses are typically characterized as bush form with large flowers, borne singly or in small clusters on a stem. Hybrid tea plants are quite hardy across North Carolina, and bloom throughout the summer and fall until frost.
Floribunda roses are a result of crossing Polyantha with hybrid tea varieties during the early 20th century. Generally, they have smaller flowers than hybrid teas, but produce more flowers on each stem. Floribundas are usually low-growing, densely branched bushes which are quite adaptable to many landscape uses. Colors range from snowy white to deep crimson.
Grandiflora roses originated by crossing hybrid tea and floribunda roses. The resulting rose is quite vigorous, and produces larger, but fewer flowers than the floribunda.
Climbing roses originated by crossing species roses with several other cultivars. While no rose is a true climber, having no means of gripping or attaching itself to a support, this rose sends out long shoots or canes which can be trained over fences, arbors, or trellises. Because of the wide genetic background, climbers have quite a variation of characteristics. Some bloom only once, while others bloom continuously. Some have large, hybrid tea type blooms, while others bloom in small clusters.
Miniature roses have become quite popular with home gardeners in the last 10-15 years. The plants are small in stature, ranging in height from 3 to 12 inches, and have small buds, stems, foliage, and flowers. Several species are popular as both outdoor landscape plants and indoor potted plants. Miniature roses are available in a wide range of colors. They are hardy in most of North Carolina.
Shrub roses generally don't fit well in any of the previously mentioned classes. They have a varied genetic background but are characterized by the bushy, shrub-like form. Shrub roses are vigorous, hardy, and are adapted to a wide landscape use.
Site Selection: Roses should be planted where they receive 6-8 hours of full sunlight each day. The ideal site is one which offers full sun early in the morning, and late afternoon shade. This will allow foliage and buds to dry early in the day which will discourage diseases. Shade in the afternoon will encourage the development of good flower color. The area should be relatively open, allowing for good air circulation. The site ideally should be located away from fruit trees and vegetable gardens as the numbers of insect and disease problems will be compounded if roses are located near these areas.
Soils: Just about any soil in North Carolina will require either physical or chemical amendments before planting, so one can do a thorough job. Roses require good drainage. To provide this characteristic it might be necessary to prepare a 'raised bed.' Extreme cases may require the addition of drainage tile to carry away excess water. Since roses are expected to last several years one should take extra time and effort in bed preparation. The soil should be tilled to a depth of 8-12 inches with lime added to adjust the pH up to the 5.5 or 6 range. Various forms of sulfur can be added to lower the pH of alkaline soils. Organic matter such as decayed sawdust, pine bark, compost or manure may be added to soils to improve the tilth.
Planting: For best results planting should be done in the early spring or in the fall. [Roses at the highest elevations in the mountains (> 3500' elevation) should normally be spring planted.] If individual roses are to be planted, the hole should be large enough so roots can be spread out in the hole. A good plant will require a hole 12 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Broken roots should be pruned and the top portion cut back to 5-7 inches. Before putting soil back around the roots be sure roots are loose and not pot bound. The backfill should contain native soil and not just prepared media. Roots then will grow out into the native soil and provide a better moisture relationship. Plants should be mounded slightly higher than "grade level." The soil should be tamped down to eliminate any air pockets. Watering during planting will also aid in this step.
Mulch: As in any landscape planting, mulch will provide aid during stress periods. Holding moisture, discouraging weeds, and preventing soil crusting, are a few added benefits of a 3-4" inch layer of organic matter. Disease problems can be decreased if the mulch is replaced each spring.
Fertilization: A tendency for many new rose growers is to over-fertilize newly planted roses. Generally speaking, a commercial grade 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 fertilizer at the rate of 2-3 lbs per 100 square feet is adequate. This can be applied in 2 applications early in the growing season. The addition of cow manure as a supplement is also advised. When the buds begin to form, apply another application of 10-10-10 or equivalent at the rate of 1-2 lbs/100 square feet. Repeat this application every 4 weeks or until mid-August.
Watering: When rose plants don't get a weekly soaking by natural rainfall, supplemental irrigation will be necessary. Typical North Carolina summers require this extra irrigation. An excellent system would be the soaker hose. This provides moisture to the root system while keeping foliage dry. If an overhead system is used, a morning irrigation would be recommended as the foliage would have time to dry, and lessen the possibilities of black spot or powdery mildew infections.
Pruning: Pruning could be one of the most important and necessary steps in growing roses. Correct pruning will improve the overall shape, promote new, healthier growth, and eliminate dead, broken, or diseased canes. Most of the annual pruning in North Carolina should be done in the spring, just as the buds break dormancy. [This could be late February on Emerald Isle or late April in Laurel Springs.] The most important thing is to look at the buds. The gardener who prunes too early will gamble future growth to frost, and one who prunes too late will have a plant weakened by loss of sap. So watch for the buds: when they begin to swell, go ahead and prune. Spring pruning also allows for removal of wood which was damaged by the winter. This is helpful in the overall shaping of the rose. The height of the plant can be controlled by pruning, and even after a severe pruning new canes will usually grow to the desired height.
Sharp pruning shears are necessary. Pruning cuts should be clean and at a slant. The wood should be removed about 1⁄4 inch above an outside bud. Be sure to cut a cane down to a point where the cross-section shows no sign of discoloration. Periodically dip the pruning shears in a 70% alcohol solution to decrease spread of disease organisms. Tree roses are pruned primarily for shape, thus requiring severe pruning cuts. Climbers are pruned according to class. The spring flowering ramblers are pruned immediately after blooming. The old wood is removed to stimulate new growth which will flower the next year. Many climbers are pruned to be kept within a basic boundary with the older canes pruned. Corrective pruning and pruning diseased canes should be done as soon as necessary.
The rewards for all this work can be beautiful flowers which can be cut and also enjoyed inside. Care should be taken not to damage rose canes when flowers are removed. First year roses should be allowed to bloom and not received continuous cutting. After the rose bush matures the flowers can be cut regularly.
It is not possible to list all the cultivars of roses on the market today, but the most popular are listed. Before making a selection, research the hardiness for your particular area in rose catalogues and check descriptions and ratings of the "All America" winners.
|Americana - red||Invitation - salmon-pink|
|American Heritage - salmon blend becoming salmon||John F. Kennedy - white|
|Apollo - yellow||King's Ransom - yellow|
|Arizona - copper||Matterhorn - white|
|Arlene Frances - yellow||Medallion - apricot|
|Bahia - orange blend||Miss All American Beauty - pink|
|Bewitched - phiox-pink||Mister Lincoln - dark red|
|Big Red - red||Mojave - apricot-orange|
|Blanche Mallerin - white||New Yorker - bright scarlet|
|Bon Bon - rose-pink||Nocturne - cardinal-red|
|Candy Stripe - pink||Oregold - lemon-yellow|
|Charlotte Armstrong - reds||Pascali - creamy white|
|Chicago Peach - phlox-pink||Peace - yellow|
|Christian Dior - crimson||Perfume Delight - pink|
|Chrysler Imperial - crimson red||Pink Peace - deep pink|
|Confidence - light pink||Polynesian Sunset - coral-orange|
|Command Performance - orange-red||Portrait - creamy white|
|Crimson Glory - crimson||Rose Parade - light coral-pink|
|Eclipse - golden yellow||Royal Highness - light pink|
|Eiffel Tower - medium pink||Show Girl - rose-pink|
|Electron - rose-pink||Sincera - pure white|
|First Prize - pink blend||Summer Sunshine - deep yellow|
|Fragrant Cloud - coral red||Sutter's Gold - golden orange|
|Garden Party - yellow to white||Tiffany - pink|
|Granada - rose, red & lemon yellow||Tropicana - coral-orange|
|Gypsy - fiery orange-red||War Dance - orange red|
|Hawaii - orange-coral||White Knight - clear white|
|Helen Traubel - pink||World's Fair Salute - crimson-red|
|Angel Face - rich lavender||Gene Boerner - soft pink|
|Apricot Nectar - pink-apricot||Golden Slippers - yellow|
|Betty Prior - pink||Heat Wave - orange-scarlet|
|Circus - yellow marked pink||Ivory Fashion - ivory-white|
|Europeana - dark crimson||Lavender Girl - rosy purple|
|Fashion - coral-peach||Pinocchio - salmon|
|Fire King - scarlet||Rumba - red, center yellow|
|Floradora - red||Saratoga - white|
|Fusilier - orange-scarlet||Spartan - orange-red|
|Gay Princess - soft pink||The Farmer's Wife - sunrise pink|
|Aquarius - light pink||Montezuma - orange-red|
|Camelot - shrimp pink||Ole - red|
|Comanche - orange-red||Pink Parfait - light pink|
|Golden Girl - golden yellow dawn||Queen Elizabeth - rose and pink|
|John S. Armstrong - red||Scarlet Knight - scarlet-crimson|
|Lucky Lady - clear pink|
|Don Juan - dark red||Royal Sunset - apricot blend|
|New Dawn - light pink||Sunday Best - red blend|
|Blaze - medium red||Blossomtime - medium pink|
|Climbing Tropicana - orange blend||White Dawn - white|
|Golden Showers - medium yellow||Iceland Queen - white|
|Baby Darling - orange blend||Pixie Rose - deep pink|
|Beauty Secret - red||Little Buckeroo - medium red|
|Bo-Peep - medium pink||Mary Marshall - orange|
|Candy Cane - red blend||Toy Clown - red|
|Cinderella - white||Tinker Bell - medium pink|
|Debbie - yellow blend||Scarlet Gem - orange|
|Marilyn - light pink|
|Sea Foam - white||Harrison's Yellow - yellow|
|The Fairy - pink||Pink Grootendorst - pink|
|Sarah Van Fleet - pink||Parkdirector Riggers - red|
North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.
Publication date: Sept. 30, 1994