Step by Step Guide to Growing Beautiful Roses Step by Step Guide to Growing Beautiful Roses

A display of beautiful, full blown, fragrant roses is an asset to any garden. But there are a few things you need to consider before you rush off to the nursery. If you plan ahead, you will have a rose garden that is the envy of the neighborhood.

First, choose the right spot for your roses. They are sun loving plants and need plenty of light, especially in the mornings. An east facing plot that receives some shade in the afternoon, especially if you live in a hot climate, is ideal.

Your rose plot needs to be sheltered from harsh winds. You can plant a hedge or other windbreak, such as a trellis, to protect your roses.

Next, prepare the soil. A good rose plot needs excellent drainage, because no rose will tolerate "wet feet." Check your drainage by looking at the surface after rain. If the rain sinks in and doesn't leave pools on the top of your soil, there is good drainage. Alternately you can dig a hole about 18 inches deep and fill it with water. If it takes more than four hours to drain away, you have poor drainage.

But if drainage is a problem, don’t despair. You can fix it by raising the soil bed a foot or more, containing the new soil with old railway sleepers or bricks.

Roses can grow in almost any soil, but adding some rich compost won’t hurt at all. If there is a lot of clay in your soil, gypsum will help break it up. If there is a lot of sand, add organic compost matter.

Now you can choose the varieties of rose you want in your garden. With the many different varieties available, you can find roses to suit any garden theme, from soft and romantic to modern and low maintenance.

The old fashioned varieties are still popular, and if you want roses that you can use in pot pourri, cosmetics and even cooking, you can't go past the celebrated Apothecary's Rose. This deep red variety has an exquisite perfume and flowers abundantly.

Just remember, if you plan to experiment with rose jelly and candied rose petals, that you must source your roses from an organic gardener and never use pesticides yourself.

The Apothecary's Rose is one of the Gallicas, old fashioned roses that were grown in Greek and Roman times. Other roses in this group include Cardinal de Richelieu, which bosts the color of burgundy and a superb shape; the blushing pink Empress Josephine; and Tuscany Superb, a purplish red so deep it is almost black. These will lend an old world charm to your garden as well as rich fragrance.

Victorian hybrids such as Duchesse de Rohan, a gorgeous pink rose like a ballerina’s tutu, and Reine des Violettes, which comes in shades of violet and lilac and was an early attempt at the much sought after "blue rose," are charming in an English style cottage garden, as are tea roses and climbing varieties.

Among the tea roses, the Windsor Tea has creamy flowers tipped with pink; the Catherine Mermet is peach in hue; and the Huntington Pink Tea is a gorgeous little pink tinted rose.

Climbing roses can be trained over an arch, trellis or other garden feature. Varieties you might want to look at include the miniature rose Little Mermaid, a lovely yellow rose that does well in poorly drained soils; the romantically named Dreaming Spires, with its full sized yellow blooms and heady fragrance; and the spectacular Souvenir de Mme. Lonie Viennot, a pink and gold beauty that never fails to impress.

Once you have chosen your rose varieties and brought them home, take care settling them into their new homes. Plant in early spring, but make sure the ground is not frozen, and any risk of frost has passed.

You need to dig a hole wide enough and deep enough to be able to spread out the roots. Don't crowd too many bushes into a small space next to each other; give each one room to flourish. Individual rose bushes need to be at least 2-3 ft. apart.

At the bottom of the hole, make a mound of soil and spread out the roots gently over this mound. Fill in the hole with soil around the roots and water thoroughly. To help the rose bush get well established, you can drive a stake into the ground to support it with ties.

Try planting chives or garlic in the same bed to ward off pests. Roses respond very well to this kind of companion planting. Apart from companion plants, keep the soil around your roses clear of other plants and weeds.

Do not overfeed or over water your roses. Follow the directions on rose food products, and water in the morning rather than the evening so the roses don't have to stand in cold water overnight. Older varieties of roses probably won't need feeding.

When the seasons change, you will need to know how to care for your roses over winter. In very cold areas, your roses' roots will need some protection. Build up a mound of compost topped by a layer of mulch around the bottom of the plants, increasing the height of the mound to a foot in really cold climates.

Pruning is essential if you want more lush blooms the following year. If you let your rose bushes grow long and straggly, they will produce poor quality blooms. More compact bushes will produce better blooms.

Late fall is the best time for pruning, when all the blooms are spent. Keep an eye on your roses in the months prior to pruning. If they don’t do well, severe pruning might be the only way to get them to flourish. Be ruthless. Cut the bushes right back to about half their size and remove the leaves. This will not only encourage lush new growth in the spring, will also help protect the roses over the winter.

When pruning, remember to allow the limbs of the bush to spread in a circular motion out from the trunk. Trim the center to discourage the bush from growing straight up. Cut downward diagonally about half an inch above the bud.

It looks drastic, but don't worry - in the spring your roses will reward you with lush new growth.

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