I’ve tried and tried to add roses to my garden. I’ve put them in sun, I’ve put them in shade, I’ve planted them all together, I’ve interspersed them with other plants, I’ve tried hybrids, I’ve tried tea-roses — nothing ever grows properly! Several years ago, I was having moderate success buts, after a hard winter, I went out to find that my rose bushes had been eaten to the ground (thorns and all) by very hungry rabbits.
How can you not want that beautiful color and fragrance, though, so I keep trying! For help, though, I’m now turning to the experts for advice.
One of the most beautiful rose gardens in our region is located in what you might call a difficult rose growing area. The Leif Erickson Public Rose Garden in Duluth, MN is a zone 3 or 4. The rose garden features many different varieties, from species rugosa to hybrid tea roses. Hardy rose hedges line walkways, and a planting of hardy shrub roses near the entrance welcomes the 100,000-plus yearly visitors to the garden.
Basic rules for growing roses:
- Select hardy roses
- Plant in an area that gets plenty of sun — at least six hours of sunlight a day
- Make sure you’re planting in soil that provides excellent drainage. Roses don’t like wet feet. [Note: a good planting companion is lavender that also doesn’t like wet feet. Refer to our blog post regarding these garden companions here.)
- Water regularly, especially during hot summer days. Most experts recommend about 1 inch of water per week. When watering, make sure to soak the base of the plant, keeping water away from the leaves.
- Feed your roses using an all-purpose slow-release fertilizer, or a fertilizer specially designed for roses. Be sure to follow label directions.
- Roses can thrive in a large container. Be sure to keep the planter evenly moist and fertilize regularly.
Types of roses:
- Hybrid Teas: showy, most popular
- Floribunda: shrubby with bloom clusters
- Grandiflora: tall, ideal for cut flowers
- Miniature: only 6 to 18 inches
- Shrub: large and full; some are fragrant
- Climbing: use with trellises, arbors and walls
Master Gardener Marilyn Davis teaches the “Roses” portion of our training classes for new Master Gardeners each year, and has created a list of cultivars recommended for Wisconsin:
- Hybrid teas:
- Strike it Rich (yellow bloom) – 5ft high
- Miss All American Beauty (hot pink) – 4ft high
- Betty Boop (white/red) – 4ft high
- Ice Berg (white) – 4ft high
- Honey Perfume (apricot/yellow) – 4ft high
- Prima Donna (deep pink) – 4ft high
- Love ( red blend) – 3ft high
- New Year (tangerine) – 3 to 4ft high
- New Beginning (orange/red) – 2ft high
- Debut (red/white/cream blend) – 2ft high
- Knock Out series (yellow) – 3ft high
- Parkland series (red/pink) – 2ft high
- Bonica (pink) – 4ft high
- Austin English (apricot to crimson) – 4ft high
- New Dawn (pink) – 18 to 20 ft.
- Winner Circle (red) – 18 to 20 ft.
- Autumn Sunset (yellow double) – 8 to 12 ft.
To keep roses blooming throughout the growing season remove spent flowers (deadheading). This transfers the plant’s energy back into creating stronger roots and even more blooms. Trim down to the first or second five-leaflet leaf.