In many ways, roses are the quintessential flower. They are symbols of love, romance, loyalty, friendship, and the budding of Spring. Now that we are entering the Fall and Winter seasons; it’s a great time to begin thinking about next season’s rose garden, especially if you’re a gardening novice.
It would appear that starting and maintaining a rose garden would be a high-maintenance project; but many gardening experts say, that with the right advice and a little attention to detail, anyone can experience that “green thumb” success.
Steps to the perfect rose garden that you will enjoy year after year:
Choose a sunny location:
Rose gardens need direct sunlight. If you can’t find a place in your yard that receives full sunlight all day; choosing a spot that receives morning sunlight is the next best alternative.
Avoid planting in low spots where water gathers:
Check your lawn for low spots where rain water gathers; rose gardens don’t do well in damp areas. Constant dampness is often the cause for the buildup of root rot, fungi, and bacteria.
Test your soil:
There is much advice out there about how to condition your soil for optimum growth; but be careful not to affect the natural pH balance of your soil. Do a soil test first to see if your soil is acidic; if it is, then lime and other additives can help to create balance.
There are kits available at your local home and garden stores, which can be used to test the pH balance in your soil; but one of the most accurate ways to test your soil is by contacting your local agricultural extension center. Once your ground is thawed from the Winter, you can locate the nearest center for testing. Note, that though these tests are the most accurate, they do take a few weeks to garner results.
Prepare your soil for planting:
To prep your soil for planting, you may use lime, sulfur, or other additives, depending on the results of your soil test. It is also a wise idea to add compost or peat moss to your soil; for healthier soil and plants.
Buy roses that thrive in your geographic area:
Different types of roses grow well in different areas of the country. Consult with your florist as to which roses will thrive best in your particular area and climate. By beginning with a varietal best suited to your geography; you greatly increase your chances for a successful rose garden.
It’s time to plant:
If you begin with “bare root” roses, which are roses that are shipped without being placed in soil first; they must be soaked in a bucket of water before planting. Bare root roses should be soaked for at least a day before planting. If your roses come potted; carefully remove the pot and tease apart the roots, which may be tangled. Place your rose plant into the ground, in a hole slightly bigger than the size of the roots. If using bare root roses, backfill with extra soil, after planting.
Keep the ground moist and use a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to feed and add nutrients to your plants. Laying down mulch, not only makes the area around your plants attractive, but also works to keep the soil moist.
Avoid pruning your roses for the first couple of years after planting. It’s okay to trim damaged or broken branches; but in the first couple of years in the life of your roses, the more leaf and stem growth you allow, the more vibrant your rose garden will ultimately be.