SPRING ROSE CARE

When spring comes it’s time for gardeners to roll up their sleeves and  get busy and I can’t wait!

Here are some tips that I follow for getting my roses off to a good start in my Zone 5b garden.

img_2618-copy

1. PLANTING

For early April planting, I buy bare root roses from online vendors (my preferred list here). When they arrive they are “bare roots” wrapped in wet newspaper. Very humble beginnings for a plant that will be so lovely later!

IMG_4309

A good moo poo start...
Bare roots soaking in Moo Poo Tea…

I immediately unpack them and soak them in a bucket of Moo Poo tea for 24 hours before planting.

Planting decisions are dependent on the type of rose…

Grafted Roses: Many hybrid teas, floribunda and grandifloras are grafted roses.

This means that a rose is created by being grafted onto strong, hardy rootstock, creating a “bud union.” Plant the bud union (knobby part just above the roots) 3” below the soil line to protect it from harsh winters we often have.

Own Root Roses: These roses were started from cuttings and are on their own root, so there is no bud union to protect. I plant them as I would any other shrub.

Soil: We ask roses to bloom for us all summer, year after year, so it is best to give them a good start by planting them in good, rich soil. Our neck of the woods has horrible gray clay soil so we dig BIG holes–holes much deeper and wider than the root system to allow for soil amendments and deep enough to protect the bud union. (At least 18″ by 18″.) To the soil removed, we add compost and a quality grade of top soil. Your roses will appreciate your gifts of more nutrients and better drainage and will reward you handsomely! You will never regret giving your roses a good foundation.

Roses Already in Leaf and Bloom…

If you purchased something from a garden center that is already leafed out and perhaps has buds or blooms, wait until the frost date has passed to plant them in the garden. In my zone that date is May 10. I will confess to occassionally planting a little earlier than May 10, but you have to be prepared to cover them if frosty nights come!! #notpatient


2. PRUNING

First tip: DON’T BE AFRAID TO PRUNE. I’ve made countless “mistakes” through the years and the roses always forgive and come back!

Here in the midwest, it is  difficult to know when winter is really over and it is time to prune. For many years, I have let the forsythia tell me. When the forsythia is blooming, I start pruning. This year the temps have been up and down and there has been a lot of pressure on the forsythia. So use your best judgement! 😬

MOST of the time, the forsythia plan works.

Tools of the trade…

You will need protective gloves and a sharp pair of pruners. My choices are Bionic Gloves and Barnel Pruners from Wendy Tilley, owner of The Rose Gardener Garden Shop and Harlane Garden Labels.

Different types of roses have different pruning needs. Read more about pruning here.

The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild from last summer. Amazing David Austin!


3. FERTILIZE

Once our roses are starting to grow, it’s time for fertilizer. Most any fertilizer will do—but do read labels carefully–too much of a good thing can be harmful! I use a combination of Moo Poo Tea, Mills Magic Mix and inorganic fertilizer on my roses. Fertilizer applications are about 6 weeks apart for most of my roses. Old Garden Roses and Rugosas are fertilized in the spring. Shrubs and Knockouts are only fertilized twice a season–spring and summer.


4. WATERING

Once the fertilizer has been applied, you will want to give your roses a deep watering to get those nutrients down to where they can do some good.

A good rule of thumb is to water at the base of the plant especially if you are watering in the evening, as wet rose leaves are more susceptible to fungal diseases (e.g. Black Spot & Powdery Mildew). Although, if I am watering in the morning I give them a good all-over shower. This is great way to remove dirt and any insects that have shown up for the tasty and tender buds! I think roses appreciate a refreshing shower just as we do, just don’t put them to bed wet.


5. MULCHING

This is one of my favorite parts. Mulch is so good for your roses … retains moisture, helps to keep down weeds and gives the garden that fresh, finished look!

One thing to remember when applying mulch … when mulch breaks down, it uses nitrogen in the process, so add a layer of compost on top of the soil before you add the mulch layer then the nitrogen in the soil can be used by the rose. If you are working in an established bed and last year’s mulch is still there, leave it… it becomes a “compost layer.” Win. Win.

I can’t wait to see these early bloomers!


MY FAVORITE TIP…

My favorite tip is to visit your roses daily or as often as you can to enjoy their beauty and to get to know them. Getting to know them can be key in early detection of any pest or disease.

And, when you have beautiful roses outside, who can stay in!

Let’s grab our wagons and go gather some blooms!

 

Bloom Thyme Friday: A quick look back

This week as I was putting the finishing touches on some upcoming presentations for local garden clubs, I found myself going back and forth through all my pictures to find just the right ones to use. Currently I have over 13,000 on my iPhone! 😳 Going through pictures is not an easy task but very rewarding!

I saw so many garden pictures that I fell in love with all over again and thought you might like to take a look back with me. Maybe remembering warmer days will make these bitter cold days we are having a little warmer too!

A rainy May gave way to some beautiful, if soggy, blooms of Francis E. Lester Rose. I love how when you look through this arbor you see the open gate across the garden. Sometimes it just works and this time it did.

 

The reblooming Bloomerang Lilac had a stellar spring and as advertised, bloomed off and on throughout the season. A reblooming lilac has been something gardeners dreamed off. Thanks Proven Winners!

 

Then there was rose pruning season. Time to get started in the garden. GRATEFUL for a large cart that hooks up to the tractor.

 

Saying goodbye to the boots. #jobwelldone

 

I had forgotten about the sweet little cosmos germinating! FAV!

 

Then there was the Mar/Apr American Rose Magazine that featured my garden–A Gardener and Her Tidy Mess. THANK YOU ARS!

 

And, oh yea, the boot “situation”. #drama 😱  but I LOVE my new boots. You can read about that here

 

This daylily though. I have to look up the name. It was spectacular.

Way to go wind, rugosas and birds  — creating a special moment in the garden!

A bokay to share. #myfavforsure

Yes, I loved looking back, but am totally excited that spring will be here in 59 days. I just bet you are excited about that too! If you had to choose one favorite garden memory of 2017, what would it be? I’d love to hear!

Happy Bloom Thyme Friday!

La France. First. Fragrant. Fabulous.

Someone had to be first and in the case of hybrid teas, it was La France. When you hear the terms Old Garden Roses and Modern Roses do you ever wonder how to know which is which? Old Garden Roses are roses bred before 1867 …. when the first Hybrid Tea was named and that first Hybrid Tea — La France. This pretty, fragrant rose was found in France by the Rosarian, Andre’ Guillot. Parents of this rose are said to be Hybrid Perpetual “Madame Victor Verdier” and tea rose “Madame Bravy” —giving us a new classification of roses—Hybrid Teas! (Note: Her parentage is sometimes debated!😉)

While most old garden roses are one time bloomers, this new hybrid gave us blooms throughout the growing season. Hybrid Teas are said to be the most popular class of roses, much of that popularity comes from their being commonly used as “florist” roses with their long stems and high centers.

La France is a large shrub that would NOT be considered disease resistant–black spot and other fungal disease find her very attractive! She grows best in warmer climates. As a hybrid tea she has been surpassed in beauty, form and is no longer welcome in many gardens, however, few can surpass her in fragrance! As the first, she has historical significance, making her a sentimental favorite with a warm place in my heart. Yes, she blazed the trail that led us to the amazing repeat bloomers we have now.

LA FRANCE AND THE BILTMORE

The most beautiful bed of La France roses I have ever seen is in the Biltmore garden and what a perfect place for her. She is in the company of many other historical giants in the rose world like Blush Noisette. You cannot walk by La France without stopping to take in the damask fragrance and delicate features of this rose. The pictures show that this first hybrid tea does not have the growth habit of the more modern hybrid teas but a growth habit more like that of her historical parents with delicate stems that bow in the breeze — just adding to her charm.

La France is the beauty on the right.
La France is the beauty on the right.

LA FRANCE AND FRIENDS

My time at the Biltmore is filled with beautiful roses of course, but also rose friend reunions. Friends like Jim Wilson. Jim is a wealth of rose knowledge and in particular La France. In fact, he says the rose world is sometimes confused on which rose is La France (that parentage debate I mentioned!). At the end of this post is a video interview I did with Jim last year where he talks about this debate.

Fast forward to this year when Jim presented me with my very own La France! He grew a lovely plant for me to take home! This rose is over-wintering in my potting shed and has already given me several blooms with that amazing damask fragrance it is known for.

La France blooming in the Potting Shed.
La France blooming in the Potting Shed.

Fingers crossed that she can be happy all winter long in less than perfect conditions—dry, dim light. 😳 I am excited to see what she can do next year in a large pot in my garden. She’s a “diva” for sure and will require extra care but I’m up for it.

Jim’s thoughts on La France…