Helena’s VanCleave shares five tips for growing healthy roses

Published 11:35 am Friday, April 29, 2016

Helena’s Chris VanCleave and self-proclaimed Redneck Rosarian gave five helpful tips for growing healthy roses. VanCleave is the chairman of the Helena Beautification Board. (Contributed)

Helena’s Chris VanCleave and self-proclaimed Redneck Rosarian gave five helpful tips for growing healthy roses. VanCleave is the chairman of the Helena Beautification Board. (Contributed)

Roses are the queens of the garden. Flowering rose bushes have been cultivated for thousands of years, and the rose is the most popular flower in the world.

Just how popular are roses? In 1985, The American Rose Society successfully lobbied to have the rose declared the national flower of the United States. President Ronald Reagan signed the proclamation certifying the rose as the national flower in a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden in 1986.

It’s no surprise that every year millions of rose bushes are planted in American gardens and throughout the gardening world. Rumors might persist that roses are fussy and difficult to grow, but rose experts tell us otherwise.
“All plants need the right growing conditions to thrive, and roses are no different,” says Chris VanCleave, a nationally known rose expert and self-proclaimed Redneck Rosarian of Helena. “If you provide the right conditions and the right care, rose bushes will thrive in virtually any garden.”
Here are five tips for growing healthy roses. Follow these tips and you can enjoy these beautiful flowering shrubs in your own garden year after year.
·      Select the rose that’s right for your garden.
There are more than 2,000 varieties of roses and new varieties are introduced every year. Different roses have specific needs and behavior. Those selecting roses might be tempted to select a rose solely based on its flower appearance, but a rose’s hardiness, disease resistance, bloom time and other factors are important to consider too.

If a garden’s climate isn’t ideal for roses, don’t despair. Many roses thrive in containers, such as a new variety from Weeks Roses called Cutie Pie.

Other roses, including the popular groundcover roses like Rainbow Happy Trails, make it possible to grow roses in surprisingly tough garden conditions.

·      Plant your rose in the right location.
The first step toward a healthy, beautiful rose in the garden is planting the right rose in the right place. A rose will never perform well if planted in a poor spot, no matter how much pampering.

Get the roses off to a good start by first selecting the right variety for your garden’s climate, and carefully planting it in a sunny location with good soil.

Roses prefer locations that receive 6-8 hours of sunlight in order to produce the most blooms.

·      Prune wisely.
Some roses bloom with a great flourish and they’re done for the season. Other roses are repeat bloomers that flower continuously throughout the growing season.

Once-blooming roses such as antique rose varieties should be pruned after they flower. Repeat bloomers can be pruned in early spring before they bloom.

“The trick to powerhouse blooms is deadheading your repeat-blooming roses after they flower,” says VanCleave. “Snipping off the spent blooms sends a signal to the plant to repeat its bloom.”

·      Water deeply and consistently.
Roses need their water, and most varieties do not tolerate severe drought well.

For the healthiest plants, water your roses on a consistent basis. When you water, make sure to water deeply to encourage healthy root growth.

A soaker hose or drip irrigation works well because the water is delivered directly to plant roots. Avoid watering with sprinklers or spraying the foliage with a hose, because wet leaves invite diseases such as black spot and powdery mildew.

·      Fertilize, but don’t overdo it.
A list of tips for growing roses should always include fertilizing. Roses are heavy feeders, but many gardeners use too high a concentration of fertilizer, which can damage plants.

VanCleave recommends alternating between composted manure and a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer for the best results.

When growing roses in containers, or if a garden soil is relatively poor, growers may need to provide some fertilizer a few times each growing season. Watch for signs of over fertilizing, which include leaf burn.

“Breakthroughs in breeding programs are producing much better rose bushes than our parents grew,” says VanCleave, whose own rose garden includes 160 rose bushes. “The leading rose breeders like Weeks Roses in California introduce new varieties every year that are beautiful and thrive in most garden conditions. My rose garden would not be the same without them.”

To see the many varieties of roses now available from Weeks Roses, visit Weeksroses.com or a local garden center.