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Flower growers depend on roses
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
In 600 B.C., the Greek poetess, Sappho, described the rose as the Queen of Flowers, and it became our National Floral Emblem in 1987. It is safe to say roses are much loved and are here to stay.
The American Rose Society lists 56 official classes of roses, so you know there must be some you can enjoyably grow and beautify your landscape with as well as provide fragrant and colorful bouquets for indoor displays.
Some people disparage the hybrid tea roses because of the effort required to grow them, but most of the best things in life take work. Many people consider the "work" to be very enjoyable or even therapy after stressful days at an office. Most gardeners consider growing hybrid tea roses to be fun, or they wouldn't be the most popular roses in America.
More than 225,000 visitors annually, go to the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum in Jackson and stroll the rose garden, shooting pictures, putting their noses in the flowers and taking notes. One visit and the rose display will hook most gardeners on the idea of growing their own.
The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg is known far and wide for its beautiful hybrid tea rose gardens. Popular demand has prompted USM to organize a Rose Gala on May 5 with speakers and an afternoon of fun amongst the roses. For more information contact Pat McDonald at (601) 266-6951.
If you want to start growing your own roses, consider first that the rose is one of those plants that does not like wet feet. Not many of our choice plants do. A raised bed like we use for vegetables or azaleas, rich in organic matter, will do just fine.
Black spot is the villain that causes the most angst in growing roses. Much can be done to strengthen the fight against black spot and lessen the amount of fungicide applications. Plant your roses in full sun and for sure full morning sun. This will allow dew on the leaves to dry.
Space plants where they will have good air circulation for this drying process. When you water, use soaker hoses, home drip systems or at least water from the bottom with a wand. Keeping water off the foliage really increases your chances of being a happy rose grower.
Leaves that are still expanding (new growth) are most susceptible to black spot. The disease spore must be immersed in water for at least seven hours for any infection to occur. Symptoms will appear in three to 16 days depending on temperature and inoculum. Keeping this in mind and being familiar with a couple of garden center fungicides makes it fairly simple to grow roses.
The real hard part may be deciding which hybrid tea roses to grow. Most garden centers are loaded with huge selections of high quality roses. I have always been partial to roses with blended colors of orange, yellow and red. I still ooh and ahh every time I see Perfect Moment, a past All America Rose Selections winner.
Rio Samba, which is also an AARS winner, is another favorite of mine with reddish-orange and yellow. This year's AARS winner, Love & Peace, is breathtakingly beautiful in these same colors.
I also still love Double Delight, the last rose to win the fragrance award in the American Rose Society. Everyone loves the deep-red and creamy-white combination.
Without a doubt, gardeners still love red roses. There are a lot of good choices in the red, but I love it when the old timer Mister Lincoln sneaks up and wins the grand prize at a show. Mister Lincoln is one of the largest hybrid teas and has a fragrance that will bring you to your knees. Other great red hybrid teas are Olympiad, Ingrid Bergman and Opening Night, all of which are AARS winners.
If yellow is your favorite color, you may want to consider Midas Touch, an AARS winner that is a deep saturated yellow. St. Patrick has received rave reviews with its golden-yellow tinged with green. Other great yellow roses are Gold Medal, a grandiflora; Sunsprite and Sun Flare, very easy-to-grow floribundas; and Golden Showers, a climbing rose.
Some of my other favorite hybrid teas that are easy to find and among the most beautiful are Pristine, which is ivory and pink; Peace, the most honored rose of all time; and First Prize, an enormous, deep-pink blossom rose with great fragrance.
A few of my favorite floribundas are Bill Warriner (salmon coral), Sexy Rexy (pink), Love Potion (deep lavender with fragrance), Playboy (mostly orange with a splash of yellow) and Angel Face (deep mauve-lavender blossom that is very fragrant).
Lastly, don't forget about my favorite group, the David Austin English Roses. These are vigorous, fragrant and a delight to grow.