It's easy to get swept away by the allure of roses, especially if you're a new gardener. After all, they're beautiful and fragrant - nothing beats a row of perfectly groomed rose bushes. But if you're just starting out with roses, there are a few things you need to know to choose the best rose for your needs. Read on to find out more about picking the perfect rose:
Location, Location, Location
The first thing you need to decide is where you'll be planting your new rose bush. Maybe you just want a rose to fill in the shady area near your front door, or perhaps you're ready to dedicate a 40’ x 40’ full sun garden plot to your hobby. Different roses need different amounts of sunlight, and you'll only set yourself up for failure if you plant a rose that needs full sunlight in the shade or vice versa.
The next thing to look at is your climate. The best roses for tropical Florida are different from those that will grow best in chilly Michigan. Depending on where you live, your roses might also be exposed to specific elements like salty winds off the ocean or areas with minimal topsoil. To make identifying the best roses for your location easier, the USDA has set up a plant hardiness map that indicates which plants work best in each region and when they should be planted for best results. When you're choosing which roses to grow, check this chart to make sure your roses will survive in your climate.
Also, did you know that different types of roses have different growing patterns? If you're used to seeing cut roses, you might not know that roses also come in climbing, miniature and bush varieties. Just like the sunlight issue, you also need to decide which rose variety suits your specific place. If you plant a climbing rose near any kind of trellis or vertical structure (including your home, a fence and even taller plants), be prepared for it to take over!
How Much Time Can You Commit?
Some roses - like some women - can be high maintenance. Certain varieties will require frequent pruning, specific soil nutrients and frequent fertilizations. If you're more of a “hands-off" gardener, look for a rose variety that specifically claims to be low maintenance. Be realistic with yourself. Any hobby is fun at first, but roses require ongoing commitment in order to thrive. Make sure the rose you pick matches a realistic level of commitment for you.
Spend Time on Your Soil
Soil contains many of the nutrients your rose needs to survive - so think about it like you would the food you put in your own body. If you eat a diet low in vitamins and minerals, you won't be very healthy and you'll probably feel pretty cruddy. Similarly, if you give your rose poor soil to grow in, it may develop diseases or be more prone to insect infestation. Have your soil tested by your local extension agency or at any farm supply or feed store and find out what nutrients - if any - your soil is deficient in. The person who tests your soil should be able to give you a recommendation for additives that will remedy your problems.
It might also be worth it to invest in a rose fertilizer. You can find these at any garden store and they contain specific formulations of the vitamins and minerals your roses need to thrive. Speak with an employee at the store to learn how often the fertilizer should be applied - too much and you could burn the roots of your new plants.
Growing roses can be an extremely rewarding hobby, but don't rush into it until you're sure you know what's involved. Don't purchase rose plants on a whim - plan thoroughly before you include them as part of your garden, making sure you touch on each of the issues we've already discussed. You'll soon be on your way to planting - and enjoying - the rose garden of your dreams.
Jessica writes for a organic gardening, a website full of tips to help people plant and grow organic food.