Growing Roses, Rose gardening, Rose propagation the easy way, for us Artist's!

Growing roses, a wonderful past time, and something you should be doing if you are painting flowers!

I’m not a master gardener, but I have found that growing my own is a nice way to have a fresh rose to pick as a subject for a painting, so I’ve grown my own for quite some time now.   Some years, I do better than others, and I will be the first to admit, I’ve lost a few due to not caring for them properly. 

But my mistakes are your gain, because I can walk you through the process here so you too can enjoy this wonderful hobby and not make the same errors I have in the past. In doing so, it will also keep you from having to spend to much at the florist getting flowers to paint!

So lets get started!

Selecting the site:

Roses prefer a rich, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic (pH between 6.0 - 6.5). They like plenty of water and sun -- at least eight to 10 hours -- and growing roses is best done when protecting them from harsh wind and cold.

If you can, select an area that will receive the morning sun as opposed to evening sun, as it allows for the morning dew to burn off quickly which helps with fungal problems. Roses are tolerant of most soil types, (mine being red-clay), but will thrive in humus rich soils.

Avoid growing roses near gutters and eaves to prevent snow and ice damage.

They’ll need some room to grow too.  Give them space to allow air circulation, again, the fungal thing.

Also think about your watering source.  Roses can be tolerant of dry spells, but they won’t bloom as well.  Keeping them well watered with bi-weekly deep waterings (1” to 2” of water) will keep your blooms coming!

You may also decide that container gardening is your right choice.  These will need watering daily during the summer, but when your apartment living doesn’t allow for a proper planting in a bed, well, bring on the terracotta!

Growing roses, how to get the perfect still life flower!

Picking your rose:

Now that you’ve decided on the where, lets talk about the what in Growing roses What variety of rose do you want? 

Firstly, check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for advice.  They can quickly give you a list of roses that are hardy to your area of the country.  Don’t have an Extension Service nearby? Then check any local garden shop/center.  They will usually keep in stock those roses that will perform well for your area, and will have the knowledge to help you should you get stuck. 

Your local book store or library may have reference books on growing roses specifically for your area, that can help you in selecting a few good plant varieties too.

The larger chain store home improvement centers may or may not have varieties best suited for your area, and most will not have someone knowledgeable enough to help in selection. 

So here is a partial list to get you started:

  • Climbers
  • Floribundas
  • Grand floras
  • Hybrid Teas
  • Miniatures
  • Shrubs

I have a Climber, an Antique, a Miniature Shrub and the rest are <b>Hybrid Teas,</b> which for me, are the most prolific and hardy.

How to Plant Roses:

So you’ve got the site selected, and you’ve purchased a few plants. 

Most plants today are offered as containers or potted.  Varying from ½ gallon to 1 gallon container plants.  The later being larger with a more established root system will have a much better chance at surviving the shock of transplant.  If your budget will allow for it, stick to the larger plants. 

Of course you’ve got to dig a hole! Unless you’re doing the container thing.  Check out this video! It will help in both cases:

Rose planting video

Your hole size will depend on the size of your plant.  Just leave yourself plenty of room for the plant and adding potting soil mix to amend the soil.  Another great reference site:

Once the hole is dug, chunk up the bottom well for additional drainage, add your amendments and remove the plant from its container. I usually roll the plant container a few times on the ground on it’s side to loosen the soil within the container. This makes pulling the plant (from the base) out of the container a little easier. Using your fingers, gently massage around the sides and bottoms of the root ball to loosen the soil even more and expose some of the roots. (They will appear like hair hanging out of the soil ball). Set your plant into it’s hole and work soil amendments around the sides to fill up the hole. The base of the plant (top of the soil within the container) should be at the same height within your hole as it is within it’s container (no deeper or higher than it is within the container undisturbed). If it appears too deep, remove the plant and add more soil, if too high, remove the plant and take out some soil from the hole. The plant’s final height should be as it was within its container. Tap all your soil and amendments down to make good contact then give it a really good soaking of water. Wait several minutes and give it another really good soaking. The first settles the soil and allows wet soil to fill all gaps, the 2nd is just for good measure. The root ball coming into dry air can shock the plant, and this helps relieve it's stress. At this point you're done, but here is a list of additional things you will need to remember as the weeks, and months go by, and you start clipping your first blossoms.

Gardening Tips for Growing Roses:
  • Roses are heavy feeders so you’ll need to top dress monthly throughout the growing season to keep those blooms coming. Don’t fertilize after mid to late August (or about 60 days before your first frost date) to prep the plant for it’s winter shutdown.

  • Winter preparation is important. You want your last blooms to die and form Hips. (seed pods) Forming Hips sends a signal to the plant to stop producing flowers and conserve energy to the root system. After a few good frosts, you can then cut back the canes to 2-4 foot height. Mound up mulch around the base of the plant to help protect the canes and prevent freeze/thaw damage to the root system.

  • In the spring, remove the mulch from the base and fertilize.

  • When watering, do it in the morning to allow plant leaves to dry before nightfall. This protects against mold/fungal attack.

  • Add a 2-4 inch layer of mulch (wood chips, grass clippings, compost, straw, pine needles, or leaves) around the base of each rose bush. Its benefits include: weed deterrence, improved garden appearance and reduced moisture loss.

  • Prune to open the center of the plant up to sunlight and air. Prune inside facing growth buds and allowing outside spurs to develop. Prune your spent blossoms before they turn to Hips. (see above winter prep) Here are some reference links:

    A Great Pruning Reference Page

    That about wraps it up! I hope you've learned a little something about growing roses so that you too will have an endless supply of painting subjects for your next masterpiece!

    And just in case you're wondering "why grow your own roses?"  Well, let another fantastic flower artist give you her opinion!

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