We’re often asked for suggestions for a long-blooming, flowering shrub that’s happy in a sunny spot, and people are often surprised when one of our top picks is ‘Roses!’ Add to that that they are largely drought tolerant, many have a lovely fragrance, they make great cut flowers AND they are one of the prettiest theft prevention devices you can have on your property, they really do check a lot of boxes.
How to Choose Your Rose
Have a sunny spot in your garden with good air circulation and well-drained soil? Then you can grow a rose! The next burning question is what purpose you would like your rose to serve.
Fragrance: The English David Austin roses still offer some of the best fragrance around. If you’re looking for that romantic, enchanted cottage look, these are your best bets as well, with their sumptuous full blooms. Several Rugosa roses, Easy Elegance® roses and even some of the Hybrid Teas have lovely fragrance too.
Cutting Garden: You can selectively snip the blooms off any rose to enjoy indoors, but some are better than others from a practical sense. The longer-stemmed Hybrid Tea roses are the best choice, as there will be much more stem to work with, and the heads are held strongly on the branches. Just be sure to choose larger-growing varieties. Easy Elegance® roses have a very long bloom time too (right until frost!), so you’ll have a longer season to harvest your flowers.
Privacy: There are two sides to this consideration. Climbing roses trained over an arbour or pergola are so pretty and effective at filling in a space to create privacy over the summer months. For those who wish to make the fence-line of their property a little less inviting to visitors (but attractive to everyone else!), larger-growing shrub roses, like Rugosa roses, are great candidates.
Low-Maintenance, Low-Growing Shrub: Flower Carpet® roses are terrific. They are lower-growing, to about 2’-3’ high and wide, and tolerate drought and heat (even reflective pavement heat). They also have a root system which helps with erosion control and bloom like crazy until frost!
Low-Maintenance, Taller-Growing Shrub: Easy Elegance® and the Kordes® roses have really proven their value over the last few years. They are durable, long-blooming, and largely problem-free. Be sure to check the details on the tag of each variety for specifics on its ultimate size and fragrance strength.
How to Care for Your Rose
Pruning roses is quite straightforward. In the fall, you can give your rose a bit of a clean-up by cutting out any dead or weak wood and giving it a dose of 4-10-10 to help toughen it up for winter. When the forsythias* bloom in late winter, cut your roses (except climbers) back by about ⅓, and you’re set. For climbers, at the same time of year, prune out old, unproductive wood and cut back each productive lateral stem to 2-3 buds. The best blooms develop on 2-3 year-old lateral wood.
Roses are heavy feeders, so help them out! There are plenty of rose foods on the market, including organic, but you’ll want to make sure they are rated as low nitrogen, high phosphorus and high potash, with micronutrients. Roses should be fertilized every 2-3 months and appreciate a dose of Sea Soil or well-rotted manures in early spring.
Rose Diseases & Pests
Many roses have unfortunately gotten a bad rap because of the susceptibility of older varieties for getting diseases like black spot. They’re also known for being ‘high maintenance’ because they require constant deadheading. The reality is that, yes, they do need a bit of looking after to stay in top form, but the benefits far outweigh the effort.
Many of the newer varieties have far greater disease resistance, and by planting them in a sunny spot with good air circulation and keeping as much moisture off the foliage as possible, you’ll prevent most of the potential fungal issues.
To keep mildew and black spot in check, start by picking off any infected foliage. Then, every 10 days, alternate applying old-fashioned garden sulphur with baking soda solution (8 g per 1L of water) mixed with a teaspoon of Safers® ‘Trounce’. This will act as a ‘spreader-sticker’ to help the spray adhere to the leaves. We’re also very impressed with the new biological organic fungicide ‘Natria,’ which contains certain bacteria (bacillus subtilis) that will feed on a wide array of fungi.
Aphids are another common garden nuisance. At the first sign of them, simply spray them with a gentle flow of water, which should knock them off. In terms of sprays, if you’re looking to stay organic, apply Safer’s ‘Trounce’ as a foliar mist every 10 days.
While there are old-time favourites out there that we will always appreciate, today’s new roses, like the Clean ‘n’ Easy series and Bailey’s Nurseries ‘Easy Elegance®’ varieties, not only bloom long and continuously, they are also durable and more disease-resistant. With these fantastic choices and more, bringing back the fragrance and the beauty of roses to our gardens is easier than ever!
Need a little more info? Visit the Gardening Guides section of our website for our Rose Care Guide!
* Forsythia is the yellow-flowering shrub that is everywhere in the Valley… trust us… you’ll see it when it blooms, but if in doubt about timing just give us a call!