How to Grow Fragrant Roses That Look Beautiful

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Roses offer a timeless and classic look to your home. Not only do they bump up your curb appeal, but the delicate aroma produced by a yard full of roses is second to none.

When it came time for me to landscape my yard, introducing plenty of roses into the mix was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, my first attempt didn’t go so well. My lack of experience working with these flowers resulted in less-than-stellar growth.

I realized that if I wanted to get that picturesque yard I’ve always wanted, I needed to learn how to grow roses the right way. Come to find out, roses aren’t that difficult to care for. The trick is to plan carefully and be proactive about the plants’ needs.

What Are Roses?

Roses are one of the most beloved flowers in the world. They’re an ornamental perennial plant that’s grown commercially for everything from perfume to decor. Thanks to their vibrant colors, sweet fragrance, and classic appearance, roses are the go-to gift plant. In fact, it’s estimated that 250 million cut roses are produced for Valentine’s Day alone.

While they’re often seen in bouquets and arrangements, roses are great for landscaping, too. There are thousands of different species out there with that same iconic floret. The cool thing about roses is they’re not limited to just one region like other flowers. You can easily find varieties to grow in tropical climates or snowy weather.

Roses aren’t just for looks. They serve several practical purposes as well. Aside from their role in cosmetics and perfumery, roses are said to offer some health benefits, too. The flowers have been used by Ayurvedic healers for thousands of years.

It’s said that roses can balance hormones, soothe sore throats, prevent infection, and more. Like other herbal remedies, roses are often used creatively for natural and holistic treatments. The petals can be dried to make tea, submerged to create rose water, and broken up to create a paste. Rose petals are also edible, allowing you to add them to meals and take advantage of their health benefits that way.

Whether you’re looking for a plant to use with herbal remedies or you simply want to improve the aesthetics of your home, roses have a lot to offer everyone.

What Are the Different Varieties Available?

Did you know that there are more than 150 rose species in the world? Within those defined classes, there are thousands of different identifiable varieties. There’s no shortage of color, shape, and size options to choose from. Typically, roses varieties are grouped into a few different classes. Here are the most common.

Old Roses

There’s a good chance that all of those roses found in classical paintings are Old Roses. Also known as Heirloom Roses or Old Garden Roses, these plants have been around for quite some time. These varieties were all introduced prior to 1867. Some common varieties include the Gallica, Damask, Bourbon, and China Rose.

Hybrid Roses

In 1867, the very first hybrid tea rose was introduced. It was called “La France” and started a brand-new era for rose varieties. Gardeners started to cross-breed plants in an attempt to create that perfect flower. For the most part, gardeners succeeded in their efforts. There are a plethora of aesthetically pleasing rose plants available. One of the most popular is the Hybrid Tea Rose, which has a long stem and large flower.

Wild Roses

If you prefer something a bit more subdued, you can stick with wild roses. These plants have been around for thousands of years and have remained relatively unchanged. Unlike other varieties, wild roses weren’t created through cross-breeding. They usually come in the form of shrubs and produce a single blossom.

Growth Patterns

Aside from the era that they were introduced, roses can also be classified by how they grow.

Rambling roses grow in shrubs. The exact size of the shrub depends on the variety. However, you can expect a dense bush with several blossoms. Typically, rambling rose plants only flower once during the season.

Climbing roses, on the other hand, can flower multiple times throughout the year. This provides you with a constant show of color in your yard. As the name would suggest, climbing roses produce long vine-like branches. They can get as long as 12 feet depending on the variety.

You also have the option to get miniature roses or tree roses. Miniature varieties are specifically bred to stay small. Thus, they’re great for containers. Meanwhile, tree roses are the exact opposite. They are bred to grow vertically with a thick trunk, similar to a traditional tree.

When Is the Best Time to Plant?

The best time to start growing roses is in the early spring. When it comes to timing, perennials are a bit different than annuals. You want your plant to have plenty of time to blossom and go dormant before the first frost hits. Once your plant is established, it should return the next growing season.

Ideally, daytime temperatures should be between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. There might be some stricter guidelines depending on the variety. However, most roses tend to be quite hardy.

If you’re growing from seeds, you can start seedlings indoors several weeks before the last frost. Once all dangers of frost are gone, you can move them outdoors to start the growth cycle.

Propogated stems or bare-root plants should be planted into the ground during the early spring. It’s a good idea to order the plants early because they still need to be dormant when you plant them. If they have begun to produce leaves, you may experience some issues establishing the root system.

Where Can You Plant a Rose Plant?

One of the most important things you need to do is choose the right spot for your rose plants. Like all plants, roses need a good amount of sun to thrive. Not only that, but the soil needs to be prepared to accommodate the deep roots of rose plants.

Choosing a Sunny Spot

At the very least, rose plants should be getting 5 to 6 hours of full sun every day. For those who live in the colder climates up North, consider putting your plants on the east or south side of your home. This ensures that the roses are getting plenty of morning sun, which dries out the leaves and prevents disease.

If you live in the hot South, find a spot that offers a bit of shade in the afternoon. Many gardeners like to plant roses close to their homes to avoid scorching temperatures during the afternoon.

Preparing Your Soil

Once you’ve found the perfect spot, you need to make sure that the soil is in good condition. Roses prefer loam soil that errs more on the side of sandy. It needs to adequately drain water while still giving the roses plenty of time to hydrate.

One of the biggest issues people face with roses is not providing enough drainage. These plants will not tolerate excess water. If the roots are left to sit in moisture, you could experience root rot and premature death.

Give the soil several good turns before planting. Break up any compacted bits and aerate the soil so that the roots have plenty of wiggle room to grow.

When it comes to pH balance, roses like things relatively neutral. A pH balance of 5.5 to 7.0 should suffice. Though a reading of around 6.5 is best.

It’s a good idea to test your soil for nutrients beforehand. Roses thrive when they are in soil that’s rich in calcium, iron, and phosphorus. You can prepare the soil several weeks early with fertilizer. Or, you can simply add some compost to the soil to give your newly planted roses a nice boost.

How to Plant a Rose in the Garden

Once your site is prepared, you’re ready to start planting. There are a couple of different ways to start your rose plant. You can either propagate from an existing plant or utilize seeds.

Planting from Seed

Growing roses from seeds is a bit harder, but it’s manageable with the right technique. Ideally, seeds should be started indoors. Successful germination is heavily dependent on the right temperatures. Seeds need to be kept at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting indoors allows you to get a head start on the growing season while allowing you to have constant control over temperatures.

If you’re using seedling trays or cubes, place a couple of seeds in one spot and cover them with about a quarter-inch of soil. Keep the seeds hydrates and warm. If possible, place them outside in the sun for about 6 hours. Once the first two leaves emerge, you can thin the herd and transplant them outside.

It is possible to plant seeds directly outside using the same methods. Just make sure that temperatures are consistent. You’ll also need to provide at least a couple of inches of space between seeds to prevent roots from competing. After the seeds have grown a bit, you can thin even further or transplant the baby plants to another area.

How to Propagate a Rose Stem

Taking a stem off of an established plant is a great way to increase your chances of success. It’s not only easier, but you won’t have to wait as long to start seeing blossoms.

It’s best to take stems from new growth during the spring. Don’t take a stem with a lot of growth on it. The goal is to divert energy to developing a brand-new root system. If the branch already has buds on it, your new plant will focus more on getting those flowers blooming.

To take a cutting, you’ll need some sharp shears. Look out for a long stem that’s firm and woody. Stems that are 12 inches or longer do best.

Cut it from your plant at a 45-degree angle. This promotes new growth for the plant you’re cutting from.

Now, remove buds, flowers, and most of the leaves from the removed stem. You can keep the leaves towards the top of the stem, but remove those that are towards the bottom.

Once that’s done, you’re going to cut the bottom of the stem in quarters. Use sharp gardening sheers to cut a cross pattern about a quarter of an inch up the bottom of the stem.

Then, separate the quarters a bit. You can apply a growth hormone, but this step is optional. Now you’re ready to put the stem in your garden!

Planting a Stem or Bare-Root Plant

Whether you’re planting a propagated stem or a bare-root plant you purchased from your favorite nursery, the process of putting it into the ground is pretty much the same. Though, rooted plants will need a couple of extra steps of preparation.

About 12 hours before you plant a bare-root rose, soak it in water. You should let the roots sit in the water for 8 to 12 hours to hydrate them and pull them out of dormancy.

Out in your garden, dig a hole that’s 15 to 18 inches wide. Use the size of the root as a guide. For propagated stems, the hole should be about 6 inches deep.

Then, all you have to do is place the plant into the hole gently and cover it with soil. Don’t pack the soil in, as this could prevent roots from growing. Give your new plant a healthy supply of water immediately after planting.

How to Take Care of the Rose Plant

Your job is far from over after planting. Roses require a lot of care to thrive. They may be hardy, but the quality of the flowers will diminish if you’re giving your plant all the care it needs.

Watering

Roses need more water than most plants. This is especially true for new plants that don’t have an established root system just yet. Fully water your plants twice a week. It’s better to soak the roots fully rather than sparsely watering the plant every day. The roots are fairly deep, so soaking ensures that water is making its way down there.

It’s a good idea to apply a nice layer of mulch around the plant. Wood chips or straw can help to keep the plants hydrated. Cover the entire root system and leave about an inch around the base of the plant.

Weeding

Like all plants, roses are not immune to weeds. This invasive greenery can steal all of the essential nutrients your roses need, so remove them whenever you see them pop up. It’s best to pull weeds by hands. Once your roses get a bit more established you can use tools to gently pull the weeds out, too.

You can utilize natural herbicides to prevent weeds from growing. Alternatively, a nice layer of mulch can keep those pesky weeds at bay.

Fertilizer

Fertilizing is essential if you want your plants to reach their full potential. Fertilize your roses after planting with a granular fertilizer. Stick with a balanced organic fertilizer. Chemical fertilizers aren’t the best option for producing woody growth. They may cause the stems to become soft, which could attract pests.

As we mentioned earlier, roses love calcium, phosphorus, and iron. You can introduce things like banana peels, Epsom salts, and other natural fertilizers into the mix to give your plant some extra energy. Just make sure that you’re not applying any fertilizer directly to the base stems.

You can apply fertilizer once a month during the spring and summer seasons.

Pruning

It might seem counterproductive to cut your plants, but it can actually help keep them healthy. You see, pruning is all about controlling how a plant uses energy. By removing some parts of the plant, you can manipulate how your rose grows over time.

Pruning should be done in the spring. Cutting off stems in the summer may cause too much stress on the plant due to the heat. Also, pruning in the autumn will make your rose plant vulnerable to the winter cold during dormancy.

Remove any old or damaged plant material to make way for new growth. You can also cut off newly formed stems if you want to maintain a specific size.

Deadheading is also recommended. This is when you remove old spent buds from previous blossoms. Removing those buds makes way for new ones.

Preparing for the Winter

The beauty of planting perennials like roses is that they can come back year after year! With that said, you need to make sure that your roses are safe during dormancy.

To prepare for the winter, stop fertilizing and pruning about 6 weeks before the first frost. Clean up around the plant, removing any fallen leaves or buds. Your rose plants will naturally drop buds and weak growth.

As the temperature gets cooler, your plants will start to look barren and dead. Don’t uproot them or throw them out! The plants are not dead. Rather, they are going dormant.

Once your roses are bare and ready for the cold weather, apply some mulch around the root system. This should be done before the ground freezes. You can also cover the entire plant with a mesh cylinder and fill it with dry organic matter.

Anything you put in the cylinder must be completely dry. Otherwise, you run the risk of experiencing mold.

How to Harvest Roses

There’s nothing better than having some fresh rose cuttings in your home. You can cut roses at any time. However, they do best shortly after blossoming.

To ensure that your plant stays healthy after harvesting, cut the stem above a leaflet with 5 individual leaves. Cut at a slight angle with sharp pruning shears. Cutting at this spot helps to promote strong growth. The new stem will be stronger than the previous one, which benefits the entire plant.

Immediately put your cuttings in water. You can strip off some leaves and cut the stem shorter if you need to. Place them in a vase with cool water and they should last about a week. You can replace the water and recut the stems every couple of days to prevent wilting for as long as possible.

What Pests and Diseases Affect Rose Plants?

Roses attract pests just like any other plant in your garden. Some of the most common pests you’ll be dealing with are aphids, Japanese beetles, and spider mites. Most pests can be dealt with by using a natural pesticide.

Deer tend to snack on rose plants as well. You can invest in deer repellants or just plant some lavender nearby. Deer hate the smell of lavender, so it’s a natural alternative to chemical deterrents or electric fences.

As for diseases, roses are susceptible to fungal issues. The most prevalent disease that affects roses is Black Spot. It causes unsightly black spots all over your plant.

The best way to avoid Black Spot, as well as other fungus problems, is to keep your flower bed well-maintained. Remove dead leaves or infected branches. Keep the area surrounding the plant free of any organic matter that could cause mold.

Also, exercise caution when watering. Avoid spraying the leaves directly, as this could lead to mold growth.

Summary

Roses are romantic flowers that can turn your yard into a picturesque place to relax. While roses don’t provide sustenance like other garden crops, these perennial plants create a nice pop of color and plenty of sweet smells.

Instead of paying for pricey bouquets, why not grow roses on your own? The first step is to prepare your soil and figure out whether you want to start from seed, bare roots, or cuttings.

Once you have that figured out, it’s only a matter of time before you can start reaping the aromatic rewards of your hard work.

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