Goose renovated our front yard this past weekend. The rock garden he created is perfect for growing one of my favourite outdoor plants – rose bushes. Roses have been given a bad rap for being difficult to grow. While I will readily confess that they will require more maintenance than, say, a marigold or evergreen, one needn’t become a slave to this prickly little creature. The key, I have found, is some good preparatory leg work.
To begin, you will need to start the day , or at least the night, before. The roots of the rose bush should soak overnight before you plant them. This gives the plant enough moisture reserves to get going. If you have bought a potted one, place the entire pot inside a container and fill it up with enough water to cover the top of the pot. The water will go down over time, but don’t worry – that’s because the roots are absorbing it. If you have purchased bagged roses, simply cut some slits in the side of the bag. Bare root roses can just be plunked right in.
The next step is to dig a hole. It needs to be wide enough for the roots to be gently fit inside and deep enough for the root ‘onion’ or bulb to be buried. I like to measure it out using the container the rose came in originally.
Something like this is pretty close.
Next, throw in a scoop of rose fertilizer. Mix it around with some of the soil to make sure it does not come in direct contact with the roots and burn them.
Next, in with the rose. Gently pack the dirt around it to eliminate any air pockets in the soil – these would damage the roots they are near.
Hang in with me here, we’re almost done. Circle the bush with a ring of epsom salts. Pick up a bag at your local drug store and have at it. Roses should be circled with the epsom salts about once a month during the growing season.
Almost at the end – I promise! And this may be the hardest part. Mercilessly cut the bush to the ground. This will force the rose to use the fertilizer you put in the ground to build a strong root system and then leaves and flowers.
For the final step – give the whole thing a really, really good soak. Be sure to fertilize your new floral wonders once a month and make sure they get a good drink once a week. However, don’t water them every day or you will end up with plants without a root system that cannot sustain themselves. Or worse yet, black mould. If it ever rains around here, I will show you how to handle that. Another fertilizing option is rose fertilizer spikes. I have yet to find any this year, but when I do I will surely be stocking up on them.
If at all possible, get your roses started in the spring. After the threat of hard frost, but before the daily temperature regularly exceeds 70 F. Once the bush is established, it is much easier to maintain. Starting to grow a rose in 90 F weather is an exercise in more craziness than even I am capable of tackling.
Don’t worry about purchasing super expensive roses or even making sure you purchase them from a fancy garden centre. Roses are now far more hardy than they were in yesteryear. As long as the stems show at least 75% green, you should be good to go. I have great luck buying the $10 ones from Costco or the slightly more expensive ones from my temporary garden centres that everyone from grocery stores to Walmart set up this time of year.
Good luck with your rose growing adventure. Let me know if you have any questions. I will post some more pictures of this summer’s crop as they become available.