While many of my Northern gardening friends are still dealing with freezing temperatures, I spent this past weekend out in my coastal Mississippi landscape appreciating the fact that my tomatoes are planted and my roses are blooming.
It was the roses that really caught my attention. All of my rose plants are blooming their stems off, even though I missed the ideal pruning period of late January/early February. When I finally had time to prune, all the bushes were already pushing new growth, but the pruning still needed to be done.
That’s kind of my rose-growing life — working on them when I get the chance. All in all, I’m pretty successful with my roses. I do get questions about growing roses, and I like to share my unconventional style.
I like to grow my roses in big containers; 15- and 25-gallon containers are standard in my home garden. Besides just preferring to grow this way, containers allow me to rearrange my landscape from time to time, something you can’t do growing in traditional in-ground beds.
Most roses are grafted, and many of mine are grafted onto the fortuniana rootstock, which provides added environmental tolerance to our hot, humid summers and cool, wet winters.
The first rose I started growing in my home landscape was Scentimental. This was an All-America Rose Selections winner in 1997. I love the flowers’ display of deep red and white swirls. Each flower has its own distinct pattern. This selection has a nice, spicy fragrance.
Another outstanding rose from this past weekend is Pink Enchantment from Kordes Roses. The frilly, cup-shaped flowers are cream with pink edges. The flowers are 3 to 4 inches across with a moderate, sweet fragrance.
One of my favorite roses growing in my home landscape is the Peggy Martin rose. This has become a legendary rose with an amazing story and is commonly called the “hurricane rose.” This rose was the only survivor of Peggy’s Plaquemines Parish rose garden. After spending two weeks under 20 feet of water in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it survived to become a symbol of the spirit of perseverance.
This rose plant produces spring clusters of small, pink flowers, which will rebloom in the fall after the plant is established. While described as a climber, I call the Peggy Martin rose a leaner that needs support to grow up on fences and other garden structures. This great rose is very popular because of its history and landscape performance, and the good news is its availability is increasing at our local independent garden centers.
I’ve found that roses are not a high-maintenance addition in the home garden. There has been great availability of good-looking plants this spring.
And you know, Mother’s Day is May 8, and everyone’s mother would love a great-looking rose for a special present. See you at the garden center.
Dr. Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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