Posts Tagged ‘Roses’

Care of Garden Roses as Cut Flowers

Icon Written by Geoff on May 1, 2004 – 7:39 pm

There is no mystical secret in making your fresh cut garden roses last a long time. All it takes is a little planning and preparation on your part. Commercial growers do it every day and so can you. 

The evening before you plan to cut your roses, water them well. This will give the plant more substance and lasting power. Early morning is the best time to cut roses, while the stems and petals are full of water and sugar. 

New rose plants are especially sensitive to the loss of leaves so try to avoid cutting long stems as this weakens the plant. We always try to cut stems back to a five-leaflet bud joint. If you do not cut back this far, a replacement bloom is often not produced. Cutting short stems is particularly important in Late Summer as the plant is then building up reserves to carry it through the Winter. 

Select flowers with petals that are just starting to unfold, when they are just beyond the bud stage, as these will last the longest. Always make a nice, clean cut with sharp pruners, at a 45 degree angle, to reduce damage to the cane. Carefully strip off any leaves that might be submerged in the vase. Be sure not to peel back the skin as this will prevent water absorption. Try to keep the cut stems in water at all times or they will absorb air. This disrupts the flow of nutrients to the flowers and leads to an early death. 

Make sure that the pitcher or vase is clean. Bacterial growth and fungus will prevent the roses from drawing water up the stem just like air. A 5% solution of household bleach and water should be used to disinfect the container. We always follow this with a hot washing in our dishwasher. 

After you have cut your roses, bring them indoors and place them immediately in a large container of lukewarm water. Make a second cut underwater, about an inch up the stem. This prevents air bubbles from plugging the stem, then move the stem quickly from the cutting bowl to the vase. Allow the cut blooms to stand in room temperature for several hours before arranging them for display. 

Soft or distilled water works best as it has very little salt content. The water temperature should be warm to the touch, between 100 and 110 degrees. For best results add a cut flower preservative to the water in the vase. A good floral preservative serves three functions, it kills bacteria, acidifies the water, and it provides sugar. The most common problems when working with floral preservatives is not using enough. Dissolving aspirin in warm water makes an excellent preservative. You can also fight bacteria by immediately removing any flowers that are past their prime. 

Every morning cut the stem back another inch, change the water, and add new preservative. Your cut roses will keep longer out of direct sunlight, drafts, and hot areas, such as around oven, stoves, televisions, and even computers. Following these steps, your roses should easily last 7-10 days!

Growing Roses in Containers

Icon Written by Geoff on April 1, 2004 – 7:41 pm

In our previous Yard Talk on Old Roses we mentioned that we dug up all of our Hybrid Tea Roses and moved them across the garden. We jokingly said how much easier this would have been if the roses were in containers. Faced with the task once again the joke just may be on us. 

There definitely are some advantages in growing roses in containers. In our case we could have easily moved the plants as the growing conditions changed, namely the trees got bigger and the sunlight less. We could simply pick up the plants and plop them down in a new spot. 

Not everyone has room in their yard for a rose garden, but most gardens have room for at least a few containers, even apartment and condominium dwellers. Container-growing is great for people who love to grow roses, but only have pavement or gravel surrounding their homes. If you need to move to a different apartment or even city, you can simple pack them and bring them along. 

Potted roses can be easily moved about to change the design effect or layout. You can even move the containers around to showcase those which are now blooming or to complement another plant or setting. Roses grown in containers offer gardeners the flexibility of blending roses into their garden landscapes even as the seasons change. 

Container growing simplifies winter protection, where winter cold is a problem, you simply move the plant to the shelter of a porch, garage, or basement. This can greatly simplify Fall maintenance. Just think, no more cutting back, banking or installing those funny white Styrofoam Winter hats! 

When roses are grown in containers, water and food can be delivered to the rose alone, it does not have to compete with other plants or trees. Since the rose is off the ground and can be spun around allowing food and water to be applied more uniformly. You will find spraying easier too! Sickly roses can be moved quickly to another area for doctoring. 

Planting in containers provides us the opportunity to refresh the soil frequently. We can now repot roses as we would any other plant, thus assuring it of having the best possible growing medium. This is particularly important in growing roses which are such heavy feeders. 

Growing roses in containers can be done by gardeners with physical limitations. Pots can be elevated or placed on movable carts to increase accessibility. Where the gardener cannot go to the plant the plant can be brought to the gardener. 

Whether you decide to grow just one rose in a single decorative pot or a garden filled with beautiful container roses it adds a whole new dimension to rose gardening. We strongly suggest you give it a try.

Why Not Try Old Roses?

Icon Written by Geoff on March 1, 2004 – 7:47 pm

After trying to grow Hybrid Tea Roses for over fifteen years we have come to the sad conclusion maybe we should give up. Some years our roses have done very well; but for the most part they have looked pretty sick. One year we even dug them all up and moved them to a different location. 

The next season they did very well. We had finally found the answer to our problems! Well, three years later we are back to the same old up and down pattern. My mother-in-law grows the best Hybrid Tea roses in some of the poorest soil and location we have seen. She uses the same methods (my wife learned from her) that we do. Year after year she has wonderful blooms on strong healthy plants. Ours, for the most part, always looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree. 

We hate to admit it, the problem is entirely our fault. Hybrid Tea Roses require a lot of just plain old fashion loving care, translation; “a Lot of Time.” On those rare years when we have time to spend with them they look great, unfortunately this happens rarely. Thus the performance of our Teas is directly related to how busy we are. 

With our busy schedule and many other gardens we just do not have the time to devote to Hybrid Teas. We are sure many rose gardeners have found themselves confronted with this problem. Fortunately for us, we have discovered Old Roses. 

Old Roses are time tested survivors of our mothers and grandmothers gardens. These are the roses found at abandon homesteads or growing wild along roadsides. Many trace their origins to the Old World Roses and were brought over by early immigrants. These old fellows, come in many forms and can be used in many ways. They climb, they ramble, they trail, and they form bushes large and small. We stick them everywhere and just forget about them. 

Yes, we said forget about them! If these roses can survive years of being on their own in the wilds they surely can survive anyone’s garden. If drought, wild animals, and hoards of insects cannot kill them growing in the landscape garden is a piece of cake for them. 

Old Roses are made for today’s busy homeowner. Sure, if you want to fertilize, prune, and water them, go ahead. While they respond well to a little care, they just do not need it. We try to fertilize ours in the Spring and Early Fall, prune after blooming, and water in dry spells. If we miss these times, so what, they just keeping on growing. 

Many old varieties display handsome foliage, flowers in soft pastel colors, and bare attractive hips in the fall. Most are extremely showy, especially when used as a background planting or on hillsides. They also have that true strong rose fragrance that can be smelled from miles away. 

While we have not entirely given up on Hybrid Teas we are close to it. No matter how busy you are you can grow these old varieties too! Give it a try, you will be surprised at the results.

Rose Care for Zone 5

Icon Written by Geoff on January 1, 2001 – 7:48 pm

Planting a New Rose

For roses in a box:
if the dirt around the rose is wet enough to stay around the rose remove box. If it is too dry plant the rose with it still in the box. Dig a hole deep enough for the crown of the rose to be about 2 inches below the dirt. Put the rose or the box in the hole and fill halfway with dirt. Compact the dirt, I usually use my foot to do this. Fill the rest of the hole with water. Once the water is gone I put a hand full of Bone Meal around the rose. Put the rest of the dirt around the rose and compact it again. At this point I add a capfull of Systemic and scrape it into the dirt. Add water. Then pile dirt around the plant for a couple of weeks. Carefully remove the dirt that you piled around it after two weeks and it should have some new shoots growing. 

For a bare root rose:
Dig hole the same but at the bottom of the hole add peat and dirt and form a cone and set the rose on that and distribute the roots evenly around the cone. Proceed as with a rose in a box. This is the only time I add bone meal or systemic during the season.

Spring Care

On already established roses, after carefully removing the dirt so that you don’t break off any new shoots, dig three little holes around the roses and add one handful of Bone Meal distributed evenly in the three holes. Cover holes. Add a capful of systemic around the top and scratch into soil. This is after you have removed the dirt and cut off bad stems.

Growing Season Care

I spay them about every 10 days with Orthenex Insect and Disease Control to prevent bugs and black spot. In between the ten days I spay them with Miracle-Gro Fertilizer. There is also a bloom builder that I spray them with. This can be done at the same time as the fertilizer. When you cut off the dead roses they should be cut at a diagonal just above the second five leafed stem. Make sure you put tar on the cut you make or bugs will bore down into the cut and kill the stem.

Fall Care

Somewhere between mid October to end of October, I have been out the first week of November in the snow doing this, cut back all stems to about a foot tall. Pile dirt with peat mixed in around the rose until the dirt is about six to eight inches up the rose. Then forget about them till spring.

An Old Rose for Our Gardens

Icon Written by Geoff on July 1, 1999 – 7:44 pm

Last month we discussed the Modern Roses, the Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Grandifloras, and the English Rose. This month we look at the historical roses of the Old World. Old Roses, generally considered to be those bred before 1867, have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Our intent is to give you a brief look at the various varieties of Old Roses as a landscape plant. Many excellent books have been written on the lore of the Old World Rose. There is also a wealth of information available on the Internet such as The Old Rose at We suggest taking the time to study the history and beauty of the Old Rose.

  • Gallica Rose – A usually short stocky shrub rose, blooms are in shades of red, open flowering, with the stamens exposed, and held on upright stems. Alba Rose – These are large vigorous growing plants with clusters of white to pink medium size fragrant flowers.
  • Centifolia Rose – This four to five foot large leafy shrub rose carries medium size white to rosy-red flowers on nodding canes.
  • Centifolia Mossy Rose – A rose considered the sport of the Centifolia Rose that bear on their stems’ green to reddish-brown growths that resemble moss.
  • Damask Rose – A rose with large upright arching canes holding large few-clustered white to deep pink blooms.
  • Canina Rose – This rose is a healthy, hardy tall growing plant with single pink or white flowers produce coral-red hips.
  • Foetida Rose – A big arching rose, best know for its shades of yellow blooms.
  • Boursault Rose – Boursaults are large pink and red flowering, often climbing, and usually show excellent fall color.
  • Agathe Rose – A small flowering compact leafy shrub rose, blooming in shades of pink.
  • Hemispherica Rose – A somewhat difficult rose to grow, known for its yellow flowers which are sometimes double.
  • Setigera Rose – Tough, hardy climbing rose which produced many early American climbers.
  • Turbinata Rose – Very small group of roses known for their large foliage and intense rose-pink blooms.
  • Rubigirosa Rose – This rose is best known for it’s open leafy apple scented foliage, blossoms are single pink to white with orange red hips.
  • Wichurainana Rose – A rambling climbing rose generally flowering in clusters of single white to red blooms.
  • Sepervirens Rose – Another climbing variety, flowers are usually carried in large clusters.
  • Multifloria Rose – Large rambling hardy plant with small single fragrant blooms.
  • Damask Perpetual Rose – This was one of the earliest re-bloomers with double flowers born on medium size canes, very vigorous and fragrant.
  • Pimpinellifolia Rose – A medium size rose with small flowers blooming in a wide range of colors, very hardy.
  • China Rose – This continuous blooming rose is best known for its deep red colors, an open bushy shrub rose that can be hard to grow in colder areas.
  • Bourban Rose – This is the rose that most often comes to mind when thinking of Old Roses, Large fragrant flowers, a re-bloomer that is very hardy.
  • Hybrid Perpetual Rose – Another hardy re-blooming rose with large flat flowers in a wide range of colors born on arching canes.
  • Tea Rose – Named for the scent of their open blossoms they are only marginally hardy and are best known for the crosses they have made.
  • Pernetiana Rose – A glossy leaved marginally hardy rose best known for its blooms in shades of yellows.
  • Rugosa Rose – Another glossy green leafed shrub rose which is extremely vigorous, often grown for its bright red hips.
  • Noisette Rose – A rose known for large clusters of medium size flowers born on long leafy canes, sometimes climbing.
  • Polyantha Rose – A very fragrant shrub rose with smallish blooms in shades of white born in clusters.

We are sure we have probably overlooked some Old Roses as they have been around a long time. We would suggest looking at Yesterday’s Roses at, White Rabbit Roses at, and The Roseraie at Bayfield at for further cultural and historic information. They also contain some very good pictures. I hope that our brief discussion will want you at least to look at the various varieties of Old Roses available to the home gardener.

A Rose for My Garden

Icon Written by Geoff on June 1, 1999 – 7:51 pm

This month’s Yard Talk is on a subject we have been trying to avoid, Rose Gardening. We have been avoiding this subject not because of any dislike for roses, as we have many in our gardens, but because it is such a bold topic. We probably receive more questions on roses than any other plant. The number one question we receive is, “What variety of rose should we grow in our gardens?” Closely followed by, “How does the various varieties differ?” Trying to answer these is really kind of mind boggling, but here goes knowing we will leave out some. 

Roses are generally broken down into two groups Modern Roses and Old Roses. Old Roses are those that existed before 1867 when the first Hybrid Tea “La France” was bred, and Modern after this event. Old Roses are usually once blooming, disease resistant, and require less maintenance than Modern Roses. The following are some Old Roses:

  • Gallica Roses
  • Alba Roses
  • Damask Roses
  • Centifolia Roses
  • Tea Roses
  • Damask Perpetual Roses
  • Noisette Roses
  • Hybrid China Roses
  • Hybrid Perpetual Roses
  • Rugosa Roses
  • Mossy Remontant Roses
  • Polyantha Roses
  • Pernetiana Roses
  • Old Hybrid Tea Roses
  • Hemispherica Roses
  • Setigera Roses
  • Pimpinellifolia Roses
  • Sempervirens Roses
  • Bourban Roses
  • Boursault Roses
  • China Roses
  • Agathe Roses
  • Foetida Roses
  • Multiflora Roses
  • Turbinata Roses
  • Rubiginosa Roses
  • Wichuraiana Roses

For additional information on many of these Old Roses we recommend visiting Yesterday’s Roses at

Hybrid Tea Roses were the first Modern Roses and easily the most popular today. As a group, they have high pointed flower buds, are excellent repeat bloomers, and have one flower per stem. They come in a variety of clear and blended colors that are excellent for cutting. This is the rose most often found in the Floral Shops and what usually comes to mind when roses are mentioned. They are also the hardest of the Modern roses to grow, subject to many garden pests and diseases, and are only hardy to Zone 5 with protection. 

The next Modern Rose to find their way into the garden was the Floribundas, a cross between the Hybrid Tea Rose and the Polyanthas Rose. Floribundas are a hardy, bushy rose, which usually produces clusters of flowers. The blooms are clear or blended colors like the Hybrid Tea although generally smaller in size. They are at their best when planted in mass. Although they are more hardy then the Hybrid Teas they still require protection in Zone 5

The Grandiflora Rose is a cross between Floribundas and Hybrid Tea Roses. They are more hardy then either of their parents, much taller, with the flowers being much larger, and born in clusters. Like their parents, the blooms are available in a wide range of clear and blended colors. Their hardiness makes them the best suited for the novice gardener, particularly in the northern regions. 

The newest of the Modern roses is the English Rose. These are often referred to as the “David Austin Roses” after the English hybridizer who first bred them in 1969. He has tried to combine the form of the Old Rose with their many petalled cupped shaped blooms with the continuous flowering of the Modern Rose. He also wanted to introduce a wider range of colors, while maintaining the fragrance of the Old Rose. The English Rose is a very hardy rose and not as prone to as many pests or diseases as the other Modern Roses, we have seen it growing above Zone 4

As you can see the varieties of roses available is mind boggling and we have not even touched on climbing, miniatures, or tree roses. The Old Roses and the David Austin Roses are really popular now. Of course how can one beat the beauty of the Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and the Grandiflora Roses? There are even roses now available which will tolerate the shade garden, for more on this visit Donna’s Roses in Shade at What are our favorite roses? My wife likes the Hybrid Teas, particularly Candy Stripe and Flaming Peace while I like the Floribundas such as Pure Poetry and Impatiens. Whatever variety you choose, you are selecting not only something beautiful but something of historical significance .