Last Saturday I had the opportunity to go to a rose care class at one of the local Armstrong Garden Centers. These stores are only in California and are known for offering free one hour classes on certain Saturdays throughout the year. I took a bunch of notes during the class and today want to share with you what I learned about growing roses.
Armstrong Garden Centers
Armstrong Garden Centers are known for their awesome selection of plants and free one hour classes they offer throughout the year, usually on Saturday mornings. At the beginning of class, the garden specialist gives out a sheet of paper with an outline of what they will be talking about, along with a coupon you can spend on plants after!
The Universal Rose
There are many types of roses that can be found all over the world. Although this rose class was geared for rose growers in Southern California, I’m sure many of these tips can be applied to growers all over.
There are thousands of types of roses available for rose lovers all over the place, including countless colors to choose from. I want to mention a few that are quite popular here in Southern California. Maybe you can find some of these in your area!
Climbing Roses– Climbing roses are the largest type of rose. They can grow 15 to 20 feet. Climbing roses look beautiful grown on trellises or on sides of houses.
Grand Fellow Roses– Grand Fellow Roses are large rose bushes. They make great backdrop shrubs if you are looking for a colorful way to design your garden.
Hybrid Tea Roses– Hybrid Tea Roses are the most popular roses in Southen California (and I’m sure elsewhere). Hybrid teas are where long-stemmed roses for bouquets come from. These roses come in countless colors and make great additions to any garden.
Miniature Roses-Miniature roses are the perfect rose if you have a tiny garden. They are also great container growers due to their small size. I’m hoping to add more of these tiny beauties to my little urban garden once the days get longer.
Counting on where you are planting your roses, you may need a long-handled shovel to dig a hole deep enough for the roots to grow into. There are also some great rose specific planting mixes that you can use, such as E.B. Stone Rose Planting Mix.
My roses are in a container so I didn’t need to worry about shoveling out dirt. I used Miracle-Gro Planter Mix with some mulch on top of the soil for my mini roses. If another soil mix worked for you in the past, I would suggest using that since it will save you a little money.
A large amount of the class discussion was about pruning roses. Here in Southern California, we are lucky enough to grow roses year round. January and August are good months to prune roses to encourage growth, at least around here.
Since much of elsewhere is engulfed in cold weather and snow, this time of year is best for pruning back roses. By the time spring rolls around, you should have beautiful roses blooming in your yard.
While demonstrating how to prune roses, our instructor was “bitten” a few times (as she called it), so she strongly suggested investing in some sturdy rose gloves. Roses are definitely beautiful, but be careful of their thorns!
You also want to buy some nice, sharp pruners if you don’t have some already. I bought mine for a few bucks from Ross or Marshalls. If you don’t mind spending more, Armstrong, Home Depot, and other outdoor supply stores have quality pruning shears.
How to Prune Roses
Climbing roses don’t need to be pruned but the other typed mentioned do so that they will continue growing throughout the year. Make sure you have your gloves and pruning shears ready.
In the wintertime take off about 2/3 of the plant. If a stem is brown, prune this, since this area is dead and won’t grow anymore stems or roses. Pruning the right areas is key to keep the roses growing with the center open.
Prune close to nodes, small bumps that you should see below the flowers. Also take off any leaves, since the plant is going dormant for the winter and you want it to save its energy for when it grows and reblooms flowers in the spring.
Since you want your new growth to grow outward to keep the rose bush’s open shape, prune at an angle. The taller part of the angle is where the new stem will grow out of. You also want to prune any stems crossing over each other and dead parts of the rose.
Deadheading, or cutting off the blooms when they are done growing, is also encouraged so that that plant will keep blooming during its growing months. You want to cut down the stem above the first set of 5 leaves, ideally.
Try to water the roses in the morning. You want to deep soak them, then let them dry before watering them again. If you keep your roses in containers you will want to water them a little more often than ones grown in the ground, since container grown plants tend to dry out more.
You don’t want to start feeding your roses until they start growing again, at least a few inches from where they were pruned. This will vary based on where you live and your climate.
There are a variety of fertilizers to use to help your roses grow well. Consider the type of soil you use, if you prefer organic or synthetic fertilizer, and how you want your roses to grow (blooms verses greenery). Check the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium numbers on fertilizer containers to compare types.
Keep in mind that organic feed lasts longer than synthetic, so you can fertilize the roses less if you use organic versus synthetic rose feed. It’s really up to you, the area you live in, what is available in your area and how much you can spend.
Rose Pests and Diseases
Aphids and rose slugs love to feed on roses. There are bug sprays that you can use to get rid of these pests. I personally use dish soap and water in a water bottle spray to get rid of aphids.
I live near the ocean, so even though the climate is pretty mild most of the year, we get a moist marine layer, which can cause mildew on roses. Rust and black spots are also common diseases for roses, based on where you live. Spraying the plants with copper fungicide should do the trick.
Even if you are stuck under several feet of snow right now, I hope you can apply some of these tips to your roses in the springtime. Growing roses can be done just about anywhere with the right planning, tools, and techniques.
I will be heading to another Armstrong gardening class soon so stayed tuned for more plant growing tips.
Happy gardening and stay warm, wherever you are!