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What Does it take to Grow Roses in Florida?

Updated on January 23, 2015
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Roses are probably the most beloved and desired flowers in the world. Statistics show that when people are asked what their favorite flower is, most people choose the rose among all others. Roses have been around for hundreds of years, they are nostalgic and romantic, and they add so much beauty to a garden.

Florida gardeners, including me, do not find roses to be the easiest plants to grow. On the contrary, we are faced with many obstacles when it comes to growing roses in Florida. Not all roses do well in Florida’s sandy soils, and extremely hot and humid summers.

So what does it take to grow beautiful roses in Florida?

Well, it is simple enough: you have to choose the right type of rose, you have to plant your rose in the right location, and you must use the best quality of soil.

Roses are grown in different places and for different regions. Roses grown for Florida wether are grafted from Rosa Fortuniana (such as Double White Cherokee), or they are grafted to “Dr. Huey” rootstock. These grafted roses are highly resistant to nematodes (major pest problem that damages the roots of roses in Florida), and they thrive in the high humidity of Florida Climate. Unfortunately, many times our local nurseries will sell roses that are not intended to be grown in Florida.

Buying on impulse when you see a beautiful rose bush at the nursery will often lead to disappointment.

Instead, do your research and only buy roses that are suitable for your specific area. The Knock-out series and Old Garden roses will generally do well in Florida. Many shrub roses and dwarf varieties also perform well. Carpet roses and several Climbers (such as Don Juan and Lady Banks) are also good Florida performers.

The type of soil used to plant roses in Florida is a crucial element.

Roses are not forgiving when it comes to soil, and our local sandy and poor drainage soils will not do for roses. You may always grow roses in containers, so you have more control over the type of soil you use, but if roses are to be planted, the soil must be amended. Soils have to be rich in nutrients to begin with, but you must also fertilize your rose on a regular basis.

Old Garden Roses (front) Don Juan Climbing Rose (back)
Old Garden Roses (front) Don Juan Climbing Rose (back) | Source

Location is another important element when it comes to growing roses in our climate.

Roses need at least 6 hours of sun, but it is best that they receive morning sun, since our afternoons are extremely hot. You may also want to think about the location of your sprinklers. Ideally, roses should have at least two good waterings per week or even more in the hot season. Roses are susceptible to powdery mildew, try to water only the roots and not the leaves, and avoid watering late at night so the leaves have time to dry out during the day.

So keep in mind these simple but essential fundamentals when it comes to buying and planting your next rose. They will all help you succeed in growing beautiful roses in your Florida landscape.

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