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Choose from plentiful, high-quality '05 roses
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
It's rose-planting time all over the South, and garden centers are loaded with just about every type under the sun -- hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, shrub roses, climbers, antiques, English roses and many others.
The hybrid tea is still the most popular for its form, beauty and cutting ability. If you think we can't grow hybrid teas in Mississippi, you must have never visited the University of Southern Mississippi campus. I also am dazzled each year by the roses at Madison Ridgeland Academy.
Roses are graded with 1 being the best, so look for those that are 1 to 1 1/2 to ensure you'll be happy with your roses.
Set out plants when the soil is not wet. Improve the existing soil by adding large amounts of organic matter like compost or humus. By all means, plant on raised beds for good drainage.
Some garden centers still sell bare-root roses. Before planting bare-root roses, soak the roots overnight. Trim off any broken roots and prune the tips of any branches that may have been damaged.
Roses need five to six hours of direct sun each day. Morning sun is essential, but afternoon shade is tolerated. Good air movement helps the dew and rain dry quickly, which discourages disease.
Avoid planting under eaves or gutters where bushes can be damaged by falling water. Plant your roses where they are easy for you to watch and enjoy. This also will keep you aware of any insect or disease problems.
Dig the planting hole large enough and deep enough to accommodate all of the roots without crowding them. Mound soil in the bottom of the hole to form the shape of a cone. Carefully spread the roots over the firmed cone of soil.
Fill in with a mixture of equal parts organic matter and soil, packing the medium gently but firmly around the roots. Make sure the bud union (where the top of the plant was grafted to the rootstock) is at least 1 inch above the soil level to allow for settling.
Water the plant thoroughly to eliminate any air pockets. Watering with a soaker hose during the growing season will keep foliage dryer and help in disease control.
There are some great new roses available like this year's All-America Rose Selections-winning Elle, a hybrid tea; About Face, a grandiflora; and shrub roses Lady Elsie May and Daydream. I will always love the hybrid teas Pristine, Peace, Double Delight and Mister Lincoln.
Some roses I would recommend for beginners are Sunsprite, a gorgeous yellow floribunda, and a similar one called Sunflare.
The floribunda Simplicity is probably the most widely sold pink rose and is a great choice for not only the beginner but also any lover of flowers. The shrub rose Carefree Beauty and a new one called Carefree Delight are also on the easy-to-grow list. Don't forget about Knockout, which has gained worldwide fame for disease resistance and non-stop blooming.
Antique roses, those dating prior to 1867, are widely available. Selections from yesteryear are not necessarily easy to grow, but they certainly offer some excellent choices. These include the scores of David Austin roses, and my experience says there are few, if any, failures in his selections. Some of my favorites are Abraham Darby, Graham Thomas and Evelyn.
Your garden center may have over 100 different roses for sale. Plant wisely now and you may have some great blooms for Mother's Day.