Plants - Roses

Growing easy-care, modern roses

Judith Adam
Photography by
Jerry Pavia

Plant breeders have turned their gene-mixing skills to developing these vigorous, repeat-blooming beauties

How easy is it to grow modern roses?
With their inbred strengths, rose care is reduced to meeting basic needs. Choose a sunny site and provide loamy, well-drained soil (topsoil, peat moss, and sand in equal proportions) in the planting hole. Irrigate once weekly in the morning (more often during dry spells), allowing nine litres of water for each plant. Use a soaker hose to flood the soil and keep foliage dry. Provide growth-enhancing supplements such as Epsom salts and composted manure, and meals of commercial fertilizer.

Winter conditions in northern gardens are severe, and even if a rose can survive in your zone, it will always benefit from winter protection. In late autumn, mound leaves or soil 30 centimetres high around the crown and lower canes of each plant. Then rake back the leaves or soil in the spring when red buds begin to show along the canes. Get ready for the garden party!

Rose care: Feeding and fertilizing
Roses are heavy feeders. In May, June and July, apply a commercial granular rose food (such as 10-3-6, following package directions) around the base of plants and scratch it into the soil. To encourage new canes and increase flower bud set, in May spread ½ cup of Epsom salts (purchased from a drug store) around each plant and scratch into the soil. Repeat again in June. (This can be combined with fertilizer.) In either the spring or the fall, spread a five- to 7.5-centimetre-thick layer of composted manure around each plant for additional nutrients.

Pests and diseases
In unusually humid weather or if black disease spots appear on leaves, spray foliage with a mixture of 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of baking soda in a gallon (4.5 L) of water with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of liquid dish soap; repeat every seven days until spots stop appearing.

If green budworms or caterpillars are a problem, spray with organic Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)—available at garden centres.

To discourage small chewing insects such as green aphids, blend 3 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon (5 mL) hot pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white vinegar, and 3 cups (750 mL) water, then strain; spray on insects. For persistent infestations, spray pyrethrum (also available at garden centres).

Read our article called Renovating roses to learn how to properly prune these plants.


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