Few things are as striking as beautiful roses.  We're lucky enough to have a climate that Roses love.  For those living in the Southern Oregon region, our valley is in fact listed in other articles and forums as one of the most favorable places for growing roses, along with Portland (the “City of Roses” with its warm dry summers and mild rainy winters), northern California, southwest Idaho, and northwest Nevada.  That being said, if you don't live in one of those areas, read on anyway to learn how to grow roses!

red roses
Photo: sxc.hu/bassplyr34

Even if you have a favorable climate for growing roses there are rose basics one should know to ensure best possible success with this world renowned “flower of all flowers”.

Placement of Roses

First considerations include placement of the rose bed and soil conditions in that spot. Roses love sun! They need an absolute minimum of 4 hours of direct sun each day, and six or more is desirable. Further, given the choice, morning sun is also better than afternoon. Most roses can tolerate temperatures down to about 25 degrees, so if we have one of our cold spells they will be at risk. Consider this when placing your bed, providing a warmer, more protected spot if possible. At the other extreme, too much heat can also stress the rose so make sure that your sunny spot is also one where the air can circulate. It is somewhat of a balancing act to pick a spot that might provide protection from cold, but also allow the rose to breathe in higher temperatures.

As for spacing, with the exception of some miniatures, they should never be planted closer than 24” apart, and many varieties will demand more space. Learn what size your mature bush will reach, and consider that carefully as you place various plants in the bed. Jackson and Perkins offers a great rose spacing guide on their website. Each plant needs its own “place in the sun” and “room to breathe”. This will help you to avoid plagues of powdery mildew, a particular enemy of the rose.

Best Soil Conditions for Roses

Here in the Rogue Valley the likelihood of the natural soils in your planting beds being clay is fairly high. If this is the case it will be necessary to take several steps as you plant roses. First of all, because roses need to be well-drained it will be necessary to fully till the soil in your intended rose bed, adding peat moss to loosen the soils and prevent compaction. Peat moss is a neutral amendment that will not affect the pH of your flower bed.

Till deeply and thoroughly this first time to mix in the peat and create an even, loose-soiled bed, while adding amendments as necessary to provide the most ideal growing conditions. Usually, this will be done by making the soil more acidic with the addition of ammonium sulfate and sulfur, sulfur being the slower acting of the two substances. So, ammonium sulfate gives the initial pH adjustment and the sulfur helps hold that adjustment over time. We are shooting for an ideal pH for roses of 6.5 to 6.8.

You will have to test the pH of your soil (pH test kits are inexpensive and readily available) and then consult a chart to find out how much of the chemicals to add. The present pH of the soil and the size of your rose bed must be considered. Lastly, it is always a great idea to add compost to the soil as you till, providing needed nutrients the good old fashioned way—organically. A wonderful alternative is the use of compost tea, which you can make yourself or purchase. If you do live in the Rogue Valley, Soluna Gardens, a family-owned business in the Jacksonville area, is an excellent resource.

How to Water Roses

Watering roses properly is extremely important to keep them healthy and producing blooms beautifully and often. This flower needs plenty of water—up to 2 inches or more per week depending on the season and how hot it might get in the summer months.

Because roses do not do well with “soggy feet”, it is best to water them a couple of times a week, deeply, instead of daily. Again, drainage is of utmost importance. It is OK to water roses by sprinkling, but this should be done early enough so that the leaves and flowers are dry by the end of the day. Avoid watering in the evening; otherwise, too much moisture is left on the plant for too long in cool air and this invites powdery mildew or other fungal growth to attack.

Enemies of the Rose

The list of bugs and diseases that can attack the rose is a long one and the remedies varied. Among the most common we face are Aphids, Mites Japanese Beetles, and Black Spot. The good news is that proper placement, pruning, watering, mulching, dead-heading, and a watchful eye to catch any enemy early in its attack on the rose is sufficient to keep a plant or bed healthy. Choosing rose varieties carefully for hardiness and good match for our climate and soil conditions will also pay dividends.

Japanese Beetles can be controlled by picking and drowning in soapy water.

Aphids can be controlled by vigorous spraying with water to knock them off the plants when they first appear. Also, since ants will protect aphids for the sake of the secretion they produce, stop ant colonies from developing in the rose bed. Releasing ladybugs and other pest controllers can also reduce the aphid threat; this must be done properly or the bugs will move on without much effect. However, there is an expert ladybug, etc. grower and provider here in our valley on Jacksonville Highway, Ladybug Indoor Gardens . While you’re there, check out their indoor gardening materials as well, and tell them you found them on RogueValleyGardener.com. Insecticidal soap, Neem Oil, or imidacloprid (sold by Bayer as a home garden product) are also effective agents. Nothing more toxic is needed to control aphids.

Spider mites occur when conditions are dry and/or dusty. Fortunately, the methods employed above for controlling aphids are also effective against spider mites. Spider mites teach us a lesson about using overly aggressive chemical controls in the garden. The use of sevin, for instance, will destroy the natural enemies of the mites which keep them under control in the rose bed.

Thrips are pests which attack the rose buds and blooms directly. Thus a large bed of continuous and densely blooming roses is a likely target for this pest. We mention them here because they are less controllable with methods mentioned above--they hide within the buds and deep between petals. Here is where consistent “deadheading”, removal of spent blooms and loose petals around the rose bed, becomes very important in addition to enhancing the appearance of your roses.

There are other pests and diseases which can attack the rose garden, but good general care will likely keep them at bay. Other suggestions are to attract birds to your yard, and plant garlic in the garden. For some reason we are not sure the smell of garlic, while it may repel insects, is the right addition for the rose bed. Two excellent resources to help diagnose and treat rose growing problems are the website at UC DAVIS, and a lovely old pamphlet published in England in 1908 by the National Rose Society, The Enemies of the Rose.

Types of Roses

Floribunda

Prolific and colorful, Floribunda roses are bushy shrubs that produce flower clusters of three to 15 blooms.

Grandiflora


Grandiflora is truly “grand”,growing up to six feet tall and producing classic hybrid tea flower clusters. It was produced by crossing Floribunda and Hybrid Tea.

Hybrid Tea


Hybrid Tea roses are popular because they produce one flower per stem, grow upright, and are highly fragrant. Many varieties reveal a beautiful rose fragrance.

Shrub & Landscape

Shrub and landscape roses are prolific, many with low-growing and flexible, spreading shapes.

Climber


Amazing and wild in nature, the Climber does what its name promises, inviting the gardener to create space with the rose canes, color accent with the blooms.

Miniature

MINIATURE

Miniature roses grow anywhere from six inches to two feet tall. They are surprisingly hardy and productive, fun to grow and display indoors. SOURCE: ROSE.ORG

Whether you choose one rose bush as a color accent and aromatic feature to your garden, or decide to plant an entire bed, your efforts will bring great rewards as you display these classic flowers both indoors and out. Enjoy your garden, and jump on the forums and show us your roses in bloom!

Another resource:  We recently cam across another rose gardening site and enjoyed the available essays!

You can also discuss further on our forums

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