When we moved into our home and onto our property, we inherited a few rose bushes. They were spindly looking, but I did not know much about roses and did not know the difference between healthy roses and not-so-healthy roses. I could not wait for spring blooms. However, the plants never produced much. They frequently got black spots on their leaves and seemed to be languishing. I came to realize that they were not doing well because they were planted in a spot that did not get enough sun. When we started the farm, some of my first plants in the new garden were the transplanted rose bushes. Finally, they were getting the sun they needed. The next spring, they bloomed with color, especially after utilizing alfalfa fertilizer. Now, they are happy and healthy roses.
This winter, after reading Sarah Raven's A Year Full of Flowers and encouragement from a friend, I decided to peg my roses to see if I could eek out even more blooms. Fortunately, I had waited to prune the main rose canes for the spring, only cutting back diseased material in the fall. Canes that had been blowing around in the wind got tied down to bamboo stakes with velcro usually used on tomato plants. Come spring, those same spindly roses bushes from years ago were absolutely covered in abundant blooms.
Care & Maintenance
Check out this post for how to grow roses. Highlights are to plant roses in a sunny location; make sure they are watered regularly, especially when they are getting established; and fertilize them four times a year. I use alfalfa pellets broken down in a bucket of water. I pour the water on the base of each of the roses and leave the alfalfa at the base of the plant to break down and continue to feed the plant. Read this post for more tips and tricks and this post for information on pruning and maintenance. The rose bushes that we transplanted, the ones that would get black spots on their leaves, once they were in the correct location getting the correct nutrients, they have not had issues with disease. The more you can do to ensure the health of your plant, the less you will battle diseases.
The same principles apply to harvesting roses as they do with most flowers. Use a clean bucket, use clean snips, harvest in the early morning or evening, cut just above a leaf node, harvest blooms that have barely begun to open, change the water daily.
Other things to consider
Roses are beautiful perennial flowers that can add so much beauty to your garden or yard. There are many different varieties of roses from petite and dwarf sized to large and rambling vines that can cover a wall. From scent to disease resistance to type of rose to color, the options are endless. The one thing that is certain is that adding a rose to your garden will bring you joy.
This post is part of a year-long series on flowers and plants that we love and grow on the farm. Check out other flowers that we love.