Growing Organic Roses
Few flowers can compete with the elegance and beauty of roses. Throughout history, and throughout the world, roses have been associated with beautifully maintained estate gardens. The good news is that you don’t have to be born rich, or own a large estate, to be able to enjoy a gorgeous rose garden. All you have to do is go to your local independent garden center to find a wide variety of roses you can plant at home and then learn the basic principles.
When you grow your roses organically, they are free of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals that may be harmful to our family and pets. Organically grown roses offer us the option of using the pedals and other parts of the plant in our food arrangements, making rose tea, distilling rose water, blending potpourri and even concocting homemade cosmetic products. Just the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we are not exposing ourselves to anything potentially toxic is the most important thing. But just as the “organic life” is healthier for us, so is it for the roses too.
Easy Steps To Rich Rewards
Organic roses are fun and easy to grow. We just need to understand their four basic requirements: sun, water, feeding and pruning.
Full sunlight is best, although some varieties still perform well in less sunlight. If you do not have a lot of sun in your garden, the experts at your local independent nursery will be able to recommend varieties better suited for your location. Another advantage you gain by visiting independent nurseries is that they usually offer selections of roses that are not available at the big box stores. Also, I have experienced that they are usually more knowledgeable about roses in general
Providing roses with the correct amount of water is very important. Please do not use sprinklers to water your roses, even in the morning! I have seen too many diseased roses that have been watered this way. Try to pay close attention to the wetness of your soil. Water if it is dry to the touch two inches below the soil surface.
Higher quality soil will be better able to retain water. Rich soils consist of a variety of organic components such as redwood, compost, peat moss and organic fertilizers. Wet the soil to the point that it looks and feels saturated at a depth of six inches. People often make the mistake of watering too frequently and not deeply enough. This approach will promote shallow root growth, which will make your rose plants less drought tolerant and susceptible to drought stress more quickly.
Deep roots, encouraged by deep watering, have access to more water, primary nutrients, and minerals and will support the production of more blooms in general. Deep roots also develop a more productive association with endo-mycorrhizae.
Roses are heavy feeders. They love their nutrients! Try to add as many organic amendments to the soil as you can. Your roses will show you their gratitude by producing an abundant crop of blooms.
It is best to add both amendments and fertilizer to your soil. Amendments come in the form of planting mixes, composts, soil conditioners, mulches, and other coarse organic materials that will directly improve the texture of the soil. They have some nutritional value, but not nearly enough to maximize your roses’ growth potential. Total Advantage®Rose and Flower Fertilizer will contribute greatly to your soil texture, but more importantly it contains high levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and TruBiotic®, a broad spectrum biological soil inoculant that is custom formulated for rosarians who expect the best and demand the most.
Use Dr. Earth® Total Advantage® Rose and Flower Fertilizer for a completely balanced diet that contains everything a rose plant will require. Try to work the organic components (amendments and fertilizer) deep into the soil— at least 2 inches to 8 inches for maximum results. Organic nutrients are released slowly, as the beneficial soil microbes digest and decompose the nutrients and convert them into a form that the plants roots can absorb. This is the way nature indended.
Dr. Earth® Total Advantage® Rose and Flower Fertilizer contains mycorrhizae, a beneficial soil fungus that develops a symbiotic relationship with the roots of roses and other flowering plants, enabling them to absorb more water and nutrients. Michorrhizae also contribute to good soil structure and help plants to resist soil-borne diseases. All of this happens when we are organic gardeners; we do not have to apply chemicals to our soil to achieve maximum plant potential.
Proper rose pruning is essential for a beautiful rose garden. I recommend that if you do not know how to properly prune your rose plants, take a rose pruning class at your local independent nursery. Many nurseries will offer these classes on weekends, free of charge. The more knowledgeable you are on proper pruning techniques, the more successful you will be.
Being an organic rosarian is a very rewarding experience. Organically grown roses are easy to achieve, especially after you have built a rich and nutritious soil. Organically grown roses can be more drought tolerant and disease resistant, and require fewer applications of fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides, because they have been grown steadily without the typical unnatural growth spurts that they experience with chemical fertilizers.
Please consult with your local independent nursery for more advice and tips on growing organic roses. I also enjoy listening to the smart hosts of radio gardening shows like John Bagnasco ad Sharon Asakawa of “Garden Compass” in Southern California, Mike Nowak in Chicago and Paul Parent in the New England area. These gardening gurus know roses and what makes them grow!
Happy and healthy gardening!
Milo Lou Shammas