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Roses: Tea, Shrub, Miniature and Many Other Types for Your Garden

Updated on November 2, 2014
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I have a deep interest in nature, gardening and sustainability. The local arboretum is my universe of learning and my garden is my lab!

This is my "ballerina rose"; she looks as beautiful and delicate as a ballerina and is every bit as resilient.
This is my "ballerina rose"; she looks as beautiful and delicate as a ballerina and is every bit as resilient. | Source

Don't Spoil the Roses!

Hello rose lovers everywhere, this may come as a surprise to the devoted rosarians out there, but I refuse to slave over my roses. They can sink or swim on their own merits. It's not that I don't like roses. They truly are one of the loveliest flowers on earth, I just don't feel that they merit all of the trouble people go through to keep them. Every year I am just as happy as the next person to see them blooming in my garden. I don't coddle them, and they do just fine. Roses were originally thought of as one of the thousands of plants out there and nothing really special until they became cultivated in the 1200's. Some people say they were weeds because they grew wild and quite abundantly and were so vigorous that they went wherever they wanted. They spread all over the Northern Hemisphere without any "help" from us. This my friends basically is the definition of a weed; a plant that grows where you don't want it to and goes where it wants to. It has everything it needs already. Ever try to eradicate weeds from your garden?! Almost impossible, right? Keep that in mind when you're dealing with roses!

Lucky for the hardy rose, it evolved into a strong, fragrant, beautiful flower and cultivation pushed it along further. This can be a double edged sword. It is possible to cultivate weaknesses into flowers along with strengths. Sometimes the weaknesses overwhelm the strengths. There are many hardy types of roses to acquire, so there is no need to buy the endlessly demanding types.

Positive characteristics for roses include, beauty, longevity (they can last hundreds of years), perennial bloomers (plant them once and you're done (hopefully), hardiness, especially the shrub rose and wild roses, a great source of vitamin c and a huge variety of shapes, sizes, types, colors and fragrances. If you are a fickle person, this could be the the flower for you! There are even varieties of nearly thornless roses if you can't stand the thorns! But what fun is that, for heaven sake! You gotta take the good with the bad! I think those thorns are there to remind you that the rose is not that delicate!! You don't usually see slugs or caterpillars climbing up on the stem of a rose; that's what those thorns are there for. If I was a snail/slug and I saw those thorns I would be completely intimidated and go in the opposite direction! Got aphids...get ladybugs, don't get out the bug spray. The ladybugs will find the aphids, save your roses and have a nice lunch as a bonus. You can also powerwash aphids from your roses with a strong squirt of the hose.

The downside of roses includes fussiness, being water/sun hogs, blackspot, aphids, canker and other fun things. A lot of these problems can be avoided by thinking about your rose plant as a plant first. Empower your plant to do what it does best. Read about the variety of rose you have acquired. Take your time digging out the spot where you want your rose. The rose has spent hundreds of years developing its own varieties of flowers and defenses unique to each climate it lives in. In other words, don't coddle your rose unless you want a spoiled brat in the garden! Have high expectations and low tolerance for fussy behavior. One trick I learned was to plant a slightly delicate rose near a more robust rose and see if any of the genetic DNA somehow rubbed off on the less hardy rose. I'm pretty sure it works and my roses are doing fine. In the natural world of plants, they compete for food, and therefore are kept on their toes. They in effect "rise to the occasion" if challenged by a stronger variety.

A picture of a Graham Thomas Rose,( I named this rose "Lemon Chiffon"), very hardy, but seems to be prone to aphids!
A picture of a Graham Thomas Rose,( I named this rose "Lemon Chiffon"), very hardy, but seems to be prone to aphids! | Source

Basic Care of Your Roses

When it comes to roses, you will save yourself a lot of trouble by not making trouble. By this I mean

1). don't overfeed them. Mine are thriving with not much help from me. The earth is their food source. Take care of the earth and you take care of the rose. Sun, rainwater, nutrients in the soil and a good layer of manure, compost, a handful of alfalfa pellets during the growing season and mulch will do wonders for most roses.

2). Don't crowd them, keep air circulating around them. This is accomplished by careful pruning on some rose species. Some species do not necessarily need to be pruned. They are pretty self sufficient and self cleaning, yup they deadhead themselves! You might want to trim the outside dimensions of them with a hedge trimmer (lightly). Other roses will need regular pruning after their first or second year after planting. The English rose already have a naturally open shape, so hard pruning is not necessary.

3). Give your roses different neighbors other than more roses. There is an important reason for this: if one rose bush gets blackspot, it will just travel from that plant to the next one. Genetic variety is the cornerstone of a healthy ecosystem; plants usually don't grow in a vacuum. If there are a couple of lilies or Russian Sage thrown in there, the blackspot may not spread so easily. If you do have blackspot, pick off the leaves and throw them out/burn them separate from your other "green waste" you are mulching.

4). Equipment. You will save yourself hours of frustration and hours of plant repair work if you keep your equipment in tip top shape . Clean your pruners with soap and water or alcohol when finished pruning. Dry thoroughly. Simple. Do this! This only takes a couple of minutes and removes harmful pathogens. Five minutes of prevention will save you a lot of heartache and money later. If your pruners need sharpened, simply go over them with an SOS pad or plain steel wool, rinse and dry thoroughly, then take a sharpening stone, wet it, and go over the blade in small circles for just a couple of minutes, rinse, dry and you're done. So simple to do, but not enough gardeners pay attention to this step. Your garden is only going to be as good as your tools and your soil. Invest the time that it takes to protect your tools and they in turn will yield perfect pruning cuts and, as a result healthy, hearty plants.

A parting thought: don't forget to stop and smell the roses, I think they would like that. Happy gardening to you!

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