I like a western attitude to growing roses, sort of the survival of the fittest with minimum care. If you really want to, you can baby some of the nice, tender ones, but there are some that really look good and are very hardy. Botanists believe that roses evolved 60 million years ago, probably in Asia. The Greeks and Romans were particularly fond of roses, which come in a variety of brilliant colors. The hybrid tea rose is certainly a favorite of gardeners. After all, roses do require some special care and are susceptible to disease and insects, but it is worth a little extra care to grow roses.
Plant roses in full sun. They like six to eight hours of sun preferably from morning to early afternoon. When planting roses, particularly ones that have been grafted, it is best to plant the graft at least two inches deep. This helps keep the graft from a winter death. I also recommend using a phosphate fertilizer in the hole before planting the rose. Roses prefer a slightly acidic soil. Periodically adding organic matter or something like sulfur will help keep the pH lower.
Roses are heavy drinkers of water. This is why it is a good idea to have a low area around the roses to hold water. Soak them at least two times per week. Try to keep water off the leaves, thus decreasing leaf diseases. Put mulch around them to help hold the moisture in the ground. Roses do not perform better with less competition.
One of the main problems with growing flowering plants, particularly roses, is over-fertilization. Use a general fertilizer early in the spring, then later in the summer use a low nitrogen-type fertilizer. I like to use a high phosphorus-type fertilizer late in the fall. If too much nitrogen is used, the rose grows lots of foliage and canes with few blossoms.
Wintertime is a major concern for roses. The main problem in Wyoming is the dry winters, not necessarily the cold temperatures. First, you should plant roses with at least a zone 4 rating. However, by covering the roses you help keep them from drying out. In some places, people actually bury them with soil to keep them from freezing and drying out. This can be too much work for some of us. Be sure to water the roses well before the ground freezes in the fall.
When pruning roses, cut off all the dead material. Then make a diagonal cut above a leaf. By removing lower buds, the upper blossoms will be larger. Hybrid tea and floribundas are classified as bush roses.
They grow from two to six feet tall, depending on the cultivars. Prune hybrid tea roses to nine inches. Lightly prune floribundas after they have flowered to stimulate new growth. Climber roses include all cultivars that produce long, sprawling canes and require some type of support. They produce a nice show of flowers early in the season and then a spattering of blooms the rest of the year, again depending on the cultivars. Prune these roses after they flower by removing the dead canes and live canes that are sprawling where you do not want them to sprawl.
Some roses to think about include: “agnes” a rugosa with light yellow apricot flowers very hardy, “belle poitevine” a rugosa with medium pink flowers very fragrant, large orange hips, “blanc double de coubert” a rugosa with very white flowers, very fragrant, orange-scarlet fruits, “Captain Samuel Holland” has medium red small blossoms in clusters, use as a climber, “David Thompson” a rugosa with a deep pink color and blooms continuously. Ruby voodoo rose is a spectacular late spring bloomer with multi-toned, purple-pink double blossoms repeat moderately through the summer.
Intensely fragrant, its attractive habit and vigor will ensure that this John Starnes hybrid becomes a staple in the new American rose garden. Annual pruning encourages a more compact habit.
Scott Hininger is with the University of Wyoming and the United States Department of Agriculture, Sheridan County Office cooperate.