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Brighten Your Garden with Roses

The beauty and fragrance of roses have been extolled over the years in poetry and song. As beautiful as roses are, they do require some care if they are to perform well.

Pruning: This is the time of year when pruning becomes the most important task for rose gardeners. Why prune roses? It improves flower quality, removes unproductive or diseased branches, leaves a few of the good, strongest canes as the foundation of a healthy bush, stimulates renewed growth and gives the plant an attractive shape.

Always cut to a strong outside bud. If removing the entire cane; cut on the bud union where the cane originated. Cut at an approximately 45 degree angle ¼ inch above the bud or bud-union. If a longer section remains, die-back will occur. Cut the cane with the sharp side of the pruners opposite the bud to assure a clean cut and that the non-cutting side will be pressing against the part of the stem that will be discarded

Types of Roses: Bare-root roses are now available in most of the local nurseries. The selections based on color, fragrance, and structure can be a bit intimidating for the first time buyer. Brief explanations of the types of roses from which to choose include the following:

Hybrid teas: The cut roses you buy from the florist are probably hybrid teas. They are the most popular class of rose. Hybrid teas were first introduced to the gardening world in 1867. Plants grow from 2 ft. to 6 ft. and generally produce a single bloom on a long stem. Planted in a bed of other hybrid teas or as a single specimen, they make a true garden statement.

Grandifloras: Very vigorous plants. They are crosses of hybrid teas and floribundas. They may grow 8 ft. to 19 ft. tall with hybrid tea type flowers held singly or in long-stemmed flower clusters. Use them as background plants as well as for cut flowers.

Miniatures: Smaller versions of hybrid teas and floribundas. Growth is usually limited to 12-20 inches high. These are excellent roses for rock gardens, containers, window boxes, and for use as bedding plants. Miniature roses may also be grown indoors.

Climbers: Some climbers are natural climbers with large flowers. Other climbers derive from hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, and miniatures. Grow climbers along and over fences, archways, and on trellises for breathtaking effects.

All of the above roses are considered to be modern large-flowered roses. There are also modern landscape roses, which are planted for mass floral effect as opposed to a single bloom. These include:

Floribundas: These roses were bred from hybrid teas, which they resemble. They flower in clusters, anywhere from 3-15 blooms per cluster. They often have shorter stems; the plants are smaller and have a lower growing habit than hybrid teas. Excellent for informal hedges and low barriers. Nice in containers.

Polyanthas: Small flowers, less than 2 inches across, come in sprays and are nearly ever blooming. Plants grow low and are quite disease resistant.

Shrub roses: Low growing with traits of both modern and old roses. Many have disease resistant foliage.

Old roses: Known as old-fashioned or heirloom roses, these roses existed prior to the introduction of hybrid teas. They are becoming more and more popular due to their delicate- looking flowers and wonderful fragrance.

Some gardeners feel that roses require constant attention. The truth is that once you know their basic requirements, roses are one of the easiest and hardiest plants you can grow. The Master Gardener’s demonstration garden will be open for demonstrations on fruit tree pruning and soil preparation for spring planting on February 6, 2016. The demo garden is located at Cassina High School, 251 S. Baretta St, Sonora, Ca.

Carolee James is a retired University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener of Tuolumne County.