As you start digging around the garden, you can t forget a very important spring ritual: pruning the roses. Some gardeners are a bit intimidated, but grab your pruners and be brave.
Most roses will thrive after being pruned. First you have to figure out what kind of roses you have. Hybrid tea roses are tall, some up to five feet. They usually have only one or two blooms on the end. They will bloom up to 45 days at a time all summer long.
Grandflora roses are tall like teas, but there are clusters of them on each cane. They can get up to six feet tall and have a bit more mass, like a skinny shrub. Grandfloras are popular because they are hardy bloomers and give great cut flowers. This tall screen of roses makes a colorful canvas against a drab fence.
Florabunda roses are shorter than Grandfloras they grow about four feet tall. These are a bit more compact and make great hedges. To create a dense floral edge, plant them in two staggered rows about three feet apart.
Polyanthas are even smaller, growing about three feet tall and adding small puffs of color or a low border in a perennial bed. These rose shrubs are pretty durable, but not very fragrant. Polyanthas thrive in hot locations.
Climbers are my favorite roses. You can tuck a climbing rose on the corner of the house, in the backdrop of your landscape to add some height, or train it to become a beautiful curtain around a gazebo. Some varieties grow up to 20 feet long, so be sure you have a strong structure to tie them to. Train your vine with many horizontal canes for the maximum amount of blooms.
Shrub roses are big and bushy, usually topping out at about five feet tall. These vigorous bloomers will keep popping all summer. Heirloom and old-fashioned varieties are usually more spindly. They aren t grown for their lush foliage, but are grown for their unique flower and overpowering fragrance.
Plant them in full sun of more than six hours a day. If you have partial shade of less than four hours a day, make sure it is morning sun and afternoon shade. The morning sun will dry off the night dew and keep the roses healthier. Too much moisture around the plant will cause bacteria and fungus problems.
Growing certain plants around your roses can also cut down on the need for sprays and chemicals around them. Lavender will help repel aphids. Sage, hyssop, and thyme will fend off caterpillars, and French marigolds will help fight off nematodes.
It takes a lot of nourishment to keep roses blooming all summer long. Feed them with slow-release fertilizer in the early spring when the blossoms are just beginning to open, and then again in mid-summer when the first round starts to fade.
Each application should last two to three months. Water-soluble fertilizer is popular for gardeners who like to stand in the garden and spray their flowers with a hose. Think of this kind of fertilizer as fast food for your plants; they will use it up quickly. Want to give them something that will last longer? How about some gourmet food? Give them a thick blanket of composted manure in the late fall and winter. Ready to start pruning? I ll give you all the basics next week.