A simple guide on how to grow roses and a few things you should know before you start.
As a flower farmer who specializes in garden roses, I get asked a lot about how to grow roses and if roses are difficult to grow. Roses are my love language really. My grandmother and mother were avid rose collectors so I grew up following them around deadheading stems and smelling the blooms. I fell in love with them at an early age. Now with over 20 years of professional farming under my belt - everything from French prunes and walnuts to rice and processing tomatoes - roses are the plants that I get asked the most questions about. So in this blog post I’m sharing my answers to a few of your most frequently asked questions!
WHERE DO ROSES GROW BEST?
Roses grow well in my climate in California zone 9b because they get 8 full hours of warm dry sun and very mild winters so we have more of an extended growing season. We technically have only two months between frost dates but some years the roses never really go into true dormancy because we just don’t get enough consecutive cold days. This season is a perfect example with very mild Winter weather I was cutting roses on Christmas Day. My specific farm location also lends itself to rose production because I am at the base of a dormant volcano and have very fertile soil. With our long growing season, beginning in April and ending in November, I can get 6 or more flushes of roses per year depending on the variety and weather.
Flower farmers in other zones could be equally as successful growing roses but may not have as many flushes per year as I do so they wouldn’t be as a profitable of a crop for the initial investment and room they require as a perennial crop. If you’re a flower farmer thinking about adding them as a production crop, doing an advanced cost analysis based on the number of bloom cycles per year you have based on acreage would determine if it’s a sustainable endeavor for you.
For home gardeners, it’s all about choosing the best spot at your home - finding a space with 6-8 hours of sunlight & good drainage and a rose that is hardy to your growing zone.
WILL ROSES GROW IN SHADE?
Roses need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to thrive. 8 hours is better. They will grow in partial shade but it’s not their favorite. If you have a shady spot you’d like to fill with a rose, choose a variety that can tolerate some shade. I recommend ‘Eden’ climber or the classic ‘Iceberg’ as a couple shade tolerant varieties
ARE ROSES DIFFICULT TO GROW?
Not true at all! It’s often said that roses are finicky or hard to grow, but this one is a total myth. It’s all about picking the right rose for the right location. The difficulty and why roses sometimes have the reputation for being hard to grow is that care really depends on your climate and as long as you can pick the varieties, good site location and do the cultural practices that work well in your climate then they are a relatively low maintenance plant. Choosing newer varietal introductions that are bred to be more disease resistant also make their care much easier. I don’t grow pineapples because I don’t live in a warm humid tropical climate - I would be wildly unsuccessful so I’ll leave that to the farmers in Hawaii! So don’t grow roses that are bred for cold climates in 100 degree summers or warm loving friends in the freezing Northeast. A great way to help to find the right rose for you is to contact a rosarian at your local chapter of the American Rose Society or book a one on one consultation with me and we can discuss your rose growing goals.
WILL ROSES GROW IN POTS?
Any rose can be planted in a pot. I have several roses in pots here on the farm and they add beautiful decor and elegance to the landscape. Pots are a great way to test out a location if you’re not sure a rose will perform well. They are a wonderful choice for someone that doesn’t want to fully commit yet to digging a hold in the ground. They are perfect for beginning growers too because they can easily plant and care in a pot. They also are an ideal choice for people in apartments, condos or other locations where they may not have a yard to grow in but want to enjoy a beautiful garden rose on a balcony or patio.
If you’re just getting started as a gardener and don’t know what supplies you need, I have a whole post about my favorite garden supplies and even get into my favorite garden supplies for rose care.