Would you like roses in your garden? If so, it’s time to get started -- February is the perfect time of year to plant roses to ensure beautiful blooms this summer.
Begin by deciding what kind of roses you want to grow. You’ll have a lot to choose from because February is also when nurseries have their best selection in stock.
There are several classes of roses; each class has unique characteristics to consider. To ensure success, I suggest you blend your rose choices with your individual needs and purposes, care and growing conditions.
>SEE MOLBAK'S 2013 ROSE LIST
Classes of Roses
Hybrid Teas are tall, and tend to produce their roses on long stems, one per stem, like florist roses. They’re generally the more difficult roses to grow due to their extensive hybridization, but not always.
Floribundas are shorter, bear their flowers in clusters, are better for landscaping due to the mass of color they produce and are often easier to grow.
Grandifloras are a combination of the above. They’re tall, and bear their flowers in clusters with stems longer than floribundas. They’re vigorous growers so are easier to grow than hybrid teas.
Climbers throw long canes that need to be fastened to something for support. They can be more or less disease prone, depending on their parentage.
Miniatures are smaller, as you may have guessed, and within this class there is a lot of variation with regard to ease of growth. Some varieties are very easy and others are more particular.
Shrubs are a huge class of roses with varying growth habits, including the popular ground cover varieties. They are often easier to grow as they are less hybridized than the other classes.
Ideally, in the Puget Sound, roses should be pruned the last week of February or the first week of March. You can prune later depending on the weather, your own sensibilities, and your work schedule. Nothing’s carved in stone.
I have three rules that I follow when pruning:
Prune to health, which means cut out any dead and diseased canes. Prune to strength, which means the canes you leave should be strong enough to support the growth that the plant genetically wants to produce. And prune to shape, which means it should end up looking like the sort of rose it is designed to be, in the space you have available for it.
In the above processes, watch for the growth buds and prune just above them, leaving a bud facing in the direction that you want the new cane to grow. When in doubt, cut it out!
Visit with staff at independent garden centers and get help selecting the roses you think you’d like to grow. Here’s where knowledgeable staff is very helpful. For more expertise, consider joining a local rose society, such as the Seattle Rose Society.
Want to Learn more?
Visit the Seattle Rose Society’s website for their pruning demos at the Woodland Park Rose Garden and at the Highline/SeaTac Botanical Garden.
Colorific Rose - AARS Winner 2011
Dick Clark Rose - AARS Winner 2011
Mardi Gras Rose - AARS Winner 2008