The Best Planting Site For Your Roses

In order to have roses that grow and bloom prolifically, take several factors into consideration when choosing a site.

But before you break any ground to grow roses, you must determine where you are going to plant these new additions. Although roses are highly adaptable, they will grow and bloom most prolifically if you take the following factors into consideration: soil, light, water, humidity, temperature, and accessibility.

Evaluate the Soil

Like just about every other plant, roses thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter and nutrients and is moist and well drained. If the soil in your chosen site does not measure up and you have your heart set on planting your roses there, then you need to correct drainage problems and work in lots of compost and organic matter prior to planting. Keep in mind that roses need slightly acidic soil with a pH of about 6.5. Certain roses are better suited to certain soil conditions, so choose your plants accordingly.

Let the Light Shine

Just about all roses need direct sun for at least six hours a day for proper growth and bloom. Morning sun is ideal because the dew that settles on the plants at night will dry more quickly, thus lessening the chance of disease. If your site is very hot, plant your roses where they receive mostly morning sun. It is not as strong, so your plants are less likely to get "sunburned." If you live on a shady property, don't despair. Plant roses that require only four hours of direct sun, such as the hybrid musks, miniatures, and most climbers.

Water is Life

Roses grow best with an even supply of moisture, about 1 inch per week. Watering too little and too frequently is counterproductive to your roses' health because it encourages the roots to grow to the surface. One or two thorough waterings a week is desirable. Give enough water to soak the soil around the roots, and avoid wetting the foliage as this can spread disease. If you are able to meet your roses' water requirement, consider planting varieties that are more dependent on steady moisture: repeat-blooming hybrid teas, grandifloras, and floribundas. If you're unable or unwilling to water your roses and instead must rely exclusively on rainfall, choose relatively drought-tolerant varieties like rugosas, albas, and many of the tougher shrub roses.

May the Breezes Blow

Humidity affects the health of roses, and those grown in moist, stagnant conditions are more susceptible to fungal diseases. If high humidity is a factor where you live, then grow only the most disease-resistant cultivars. Also, planting your roses in an area of the yard with gently moving air will reduce the effects of high humidity. In humid areas, don't plant your roses near walls, fences, hedges, or other structures that restrict air movement. Plant in more open areas where the air can circulate freely. The moist, salty air of the seaside is very damaging to roses, so if you're a shore front dweller, plant only salt-tolerant rugosa roses.

Avoid Extreme Heat and Cold

Roses do not like extremes of heat and cold, and they will respond to both by not growing well. Choose cultivars that are recommended for your area since they are the ones that have been determined to be the most tolerant of local conditions. In areas with a minimum winter temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit, most roses can grow without winter protection. If you live in colder climates, don't plant your roses in parts of your yard that naturally accumulate cold air, such as in low spots. You should also plant roses that are hardy in colder climates such as the hybrid perpetuals, eglantine rose, and most of the damask, gallica, alba, rugosa, shrub, and moss roses. For less hardy roses, winter protection will be necessary. To protect bush roses, you can mound the soil up over the crown to a depth of 5 inches. Pack the crowns of standard roses with straw or leaves, loosely tied in place with twine.

Roses are not adaptable to extreme temperatures. Most roses bloom best in early summer and in fall when the temperatures are more moderate. If you're a southern gardener, planting your roses where they receive only morning sun will give you the best results.

In Full View

The last factor to consider when sitting your roses is to choose locations in your yard that are easily accessible. If your roses are clearly in your line of vision, you will be more apt to notice the first signs of a pest or disease problem. And early detection is often the difference between a quick solution and an endless battle. Also, easy accessibility will allow you to feed and care for your plants more efficiently.

Roses have been garden favorites since ancient times. However, over time, they have earned a reputation for being demanding plants that are plagued by problems. Today, fortunately, that is no longer the case. Many "old rose" varieties are being revived, and many successful breeding programs are producing tough, self-reliant plants that are no longer considered the "hypochondriacs" of the flower garden. By planting these roses in the best site possible, you will be well on your way to enjoying luxurious bursts of color and rich fragrances not many other garden plants can match.

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