One might consider the rose to be the Queen Mother of the perennial garden. Despite the hesitation some gardeners have about growing roses in Colorado, they can be grown in most communities with good success. While the American Rose Society lists 48 rose classifications, the best roses for Colorado fall into the following types: hybrid tea, miniature, floribunda, grandiflora, climber, polyantha, shrub and Old Garden Rose. Traditional colors as well as blends, bi-colors, cream, magenta, brown and many others make up the palette of rose colors.
While experienced rosarians may prefer to start with bare-root, dormant plants, potted roses are also available. After selecting healthy plants from a reputable source, site selection is the next key decision. Choose an area that gets five to six hours of sun daily, as well as good air circulation. Bare root roses should be planted in the spring while potted varieties may be planted during the growing season as long as there is time to get the roots established before the first killing frost, approximately six weeks. Care should be taken in the winter to provide monthly water as well as protection from freezing temperatures. It is equally important to prepare the soil sufficiently. Colorado State University extension offers guidelines on planting and selection.
Roses should be pruned to thin out dead, weak and old growth. Begin a fertilizing routine once growth begins in the spring. Certain pests and diseases may need to be thwarted, especially if you grow modern roses.
Due to the many beautiful varieties, there is a rose for every spot in the landscape. While some may be grown for the perfection of the individual bloom, others can be used as hedges, on trellises, in the perennial bed or window box or for mass floral effect. In spite of their cultural needs, roses are worth the effort.
Contributed by Joan Nusbaum, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 719.636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.
Photo courtesy of Joan Nusbaum.