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Gardening

A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE

Pink Varieties Make Prolific Bloomers in Gulf Coast-area Home Gardens
Article and photography by Linda B. Gay

You don’t have to be a gardener to know what a rose bloom looks like. There are many different groups of roses, and climate determines what rose plants grow best in every region.

Houston weather can make it difficult to grow hybrid teas or moss roses without having to constantly spray fungicides to thwart black spot. Black spot fungus thrives with high temperatures and high humidity, so finding roses resistant to black spot should be your top priority when selecting rose varieties.

WHERE TO PLANT ROSES
When choosing a location to grow roses in your home garden, look for an open area in the middle of the yard or a space that gets morning and early evening sun for the best growth and flower production. Do not choose areas against a fence or structure, as these obstructions reduce airflow and the amount of strong sunlight the plants receive. In other words, more sun produces more flowers.

When there is a fence or wall, the plants only receive light from one side, causing phototropism of the plants, or growing to the light. Reduction of light and airflow encourages pests and diseases to set up house, as the plants next to a structure form a secure space from wind, rain and the elements.

Roses need a minimum of six hours of direct sun, not filtered by trees or buildings. Using a north or eastern exposure can also be a hindrance if there are trees in the neighborhood, across the street or if you back up to a wooded area. So don’t just look at your garden space: Look around to see what could possibly impact your success with growing roses.

BEST ROSES FOR THE GULF COAST
Since 1887, W. Kordes Sohne is one of the largest rose breeding programs in the world. Now, fourth-generation Kordes’ continued goals of breeding are:

• Disease resistance against fungal attacks such as black spot, powdery mildew and downy mildew
• Long-lasting, self-cleaning and fragrant flower qualities
• Vigorous growth habit with good branching

Trailing garden roses take a minimum of seven years before releasing into the market, and it is this strict criterion that makes Kordes roses great for the Gulf Coast. Kordes roses are available in “Hybrid Tea” (single-stem single flower), “Floribunda” (cluster of flowers on one stem) and climbers. “Beverly,” “Pink Enchantment” and “Iceberg” are three you can find at The Arbor Gate.

Old Garden Roses or Antique Roses have been rustled in Texas cemeteries for years. A local group called The Texas Rose Rustlers meets and collects roses growing in cemeteries for propagation, as these roses receive virtually no care and are vigorous, hardy and disease resistant.

Antique roses, or OGRs are not grafted; they grow on their own roots and many of these are on the Texas A&M Earth-Kind Plant List, such as “The Fairy,” “Ducher,” “Georgetown Tea” and “Cecil Brunner” (“Sweetheart” rose), to name a few. For a complete list, visit aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses.

Drift roses are low-growing landscape types that grow from 12-30 inches tall and spread. This group of roses came from Conrad-Pyle, a breeder who introduced us to the “Knock-Out Rose,” which has become a legend in the landscape for disease resistance and continuous flowers. Drift roses do not have a fragrance, but that is replaced by the almost continuous bloom as a landscape rose.

PRUNING ROSES
Heavy pruning of roses should be done by mid-February, which reduces plant structure by 50-60 percent. Remove all small twiglets that will never produce a bloom, as this is why they are called suckers — sucking energy from the plant. For canes that are entwined or rubbing, the lesser should be removed. Besides regular deadheading, with a 10-month growing season, roses should be pruned again late summer to early fall to produce wonderful fall blooms, as roses love the cooler weather.

Any time you prune, you should always follow with an application of organic fertilizer around each plant top-dressed with 1-2 inches of compost to promote new root growth and feed the plant. Remember to remove the mulch before feeding and composting and apply to bare soil.
As with all plants, it is best to build your flowerbeds with expanded shale worked deep into the heavy soil, along with organic fertilizer and good compost. The shale creates air spaces in the soil for deep rooting and breathing; the organic fertilizer converts a sterile soil by calling soil microbes to help build a healthy, living soil that supports life and growth; and the compost is an organic material that acts as the binder for both.

Happy Valentine’s Day from The Arbor Gate!

Linda B. Gay is a horticulturist and gardener at The Arbor Gate Nursery in Tomball.

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