The Rose Zone

Roses have been cherished for their scent and beauty for centuries, and they can become the centerpiece of your garden.

Columbians interested in growing roses should pick varieties that do well in USDA planting zone 6a. Another thing to consider is where to plant them. Roses need at least six hours of sun a day, and should be planted in loose, rich soil with good drainage.

According to Steve Sapp, owner of Strawberry Hill Farms, you should choose a location away from large trees or shrubs since they will compete with the roses for moisture, nutrients and sunlight.

Once you’ve determined where to plant, it’s time to decide what to plant.

There are basically four types of roses:

1. Hybrid teas are the traditional favorite of many rose growers. They’re long-stemmed and ideal in cut arrangements, says Sapp, who stocks several varieties of hybrid teas. They bloom repeatedly but require more maintenance than other types, including “deadheading” (removing dead blooms). Some popular varieties are “Tropicana,” “Peace,” “Elizabeth Taylor” and “Midas Touch.”

2. The heirloom, or “old rose” variety, is usually the most fragrant of all roses. Heirlooms are easy to grow and come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. They generally bloom only once per season. Some to consider are “Great Maiden’s Blush,” “La Ville de Bruxelles” and “Alfred de Dalmas.”

3. Climbing roses can be anchored to walls, trellises, fences or posts. Most climbing varieties — including “Eden,” “A Shropshire Lad,” “Fourth of July” and “Royal Gold” — start the season with a heavy display of blooms and then bloom repeatedly, finishing with a final flourish of flowers before frost. They require much less pruning than other rose types.
4. Landscape or shrub roses are good for hedges and screening because they are fast-growing. They offer continual blooms throughout the summer into late fall.

“I prefer ‘Knock Out’ roses because they’re disease-resistant and easy to care for,” Sapp says.

Strawberry Hill carries a good variety of Knock Outs, including “Home Run,” which has a cardinal red flower, “Julia Child,” which is a vibrant yellow, and “White Out,” which is a true white.”

Springtime is the best time for planting roses because the roots and new growth have time to mature before winter cold sets in. “Plant the rose as is; don’t trim it,” Sapp says. He recommends preparing the soil by spreading a 3-inch layer of compost or peat moss and spading it in to a depth of at least 8 inches. After planting, add a layer of mulch, about 1 to 3 inches deep. Don’t mound mulch right up against the base of your roses.

Newly planted roses should be watered every other day. The water should be applied directly to the base of the rose bush. Roses also need fertilizer. Sapp says to feed them with one specifically made for roses, and follow the label instructions.

Follow these guidelines and you’re sure to come out smelling like, well, a proverbial rose.

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