MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
SERIOUS ROSE GROWING
Judica Sunday, 1999
I hate to say this to our Midwestern and Eastern readers, but I am sitting in my office with the door wide open to the patio. The overhead fan is on high and I am sweating. The thermometer probably reached 80 degrees today. Every day I am thankful to God and the Church of the Lutheran Confession for sending me into the desert like Ishmael, the wanderer.
We do not have synodical mission funds, but we have a chapel, teens in confirmation, and three baptisms. Next Sunday will mark a complete year of weekly worship services. Bethany in New Ulm will soon have their new pastor.
The weather has made it possible to begin rose growing in earnest. So far I have planted 45 bushes, but 15 of those are at the home of a member. Since we are ahead of all areas in rose planting, allow me to make some suggestions.
My two favorite suppliers are Edmond’s, Wayside Gardens, and Jackson & Perkins (no relation, unfortunately). They send bare root roses. Why order them by mail? 1) I can select the variety I want and get advice on the phone. 2) The companies will replace for free the roses that do not grow. 3) The catalogs are fun to study.
Roses should be grown in groups of three or five. Near the door I planted three white roses (Pristine, good in the heat) and and two reds (Opening Night, related to a favorite, Olympiad).
Near our bedroom door I planted Double Delights (bi-color, pink and white, perfumed). I planted four but two failed. More on that later.
I planted two large roses near the driveway to provide shade in the afternoon for the car. The garage is our chapel, so I lost a source of shade. In this case I was looking for the largest roses I could find.
I ordered pink Simplicity roses. Jackson and Perkins produces Simplicity, an easy and inexpensive rose to grow (pink, red, and purple). I wasn’t going to order them, but they had a sale on the phone. I think they do every year. The Simplicity roses were only $5 a bush and the canes were quite large and strong. I decided to plant them around the swimming pool, in a place where a lot of weeds have grown. Weeds are a sign of good soil.
I always wanted rugosa roses. They are known for their hips, or seed pods. Rose hip tea is a great source of vitamin C. Birds like them, too. I later read a book on desert roses, where it was stated that rugosa roses do not thrive in the desert heat. The author actually put shade screen material over her back yard to made the area more hospitable to roses. Rugosa roses are more able to spread into a hedge and have tough thorns. The flowers are not too remarkable.
I normally grow hybrid tea roses. I just read that roses have 54 main groups. Some of the best known are hybrid teas (for cutting), grandiflora (larger bushes), floribunda (more color, looser flowers), English, Gallic, and rugosa.
Our member bought some Mr. Lincoln roses. They are very tall, deep red, and perfumed. They have remained a favorite for decades, like Peace.
I ordered Peace roses, because they are a favorite of my mother’s. She is also crazy about Double Delight. If you want to please a lady, cut her a few Double Delight roses. Peace is still popular, I believe, because the rose changes color as it matures. Peace is not known for perfume or frequent blooms.
I also bought a few roses at the local vegetable stand. They are usually Jackson and Perkins roses, potted and leafed out. In Phoenix they are often as inexpensive as $5, while the bare root version is about $15. I cannot explain why the potted, growing roses are so much less expensive. Here it is already near the end of the rose planting season, so that may be a factor. In time a potted rose will get stressed from sitting around in the sun with not enough room to grow.
Some of the local purchases made me happy, others sad. I found a Don Juan climber, one of the most highly rated roses. It is already budding. It produces hybrid tea style booms rather than the typical climber flowers. I paid only $7 for it and I am very happy.
I bought an extra Queen Elizabeth at the stand, but it did not grow. Queen E’s are grandifloras, a salmon pink. If you want two stately bushes on each side of a porch or swing, plant Queen E. The bush can grow to 9 feet.
I found a Tropicana, a smaller bush famous for the longest lasting cut flowers. It leafed out well and rewarded me for spending only $5 on it. Tropicana blooms are very bright, coral orange.
I planted 15 roses at a member’s home. Eight of them did not grow. I phoned this information to Edmond’s and they immediately replaced them for free. But I got a good-natured chewing out.
This is what I learned: Bare root roses arrive in the mail with growing canes and dormant roots. In warmer areas, like Phoenix, the canes will dry out in the sun and wind before the roots can get going and feed them. So I was told to cut the canes back to six inches, cover them with a bottomless paper grocery sack, and fill the bag with soil or mulch. The soil or mulch will hold the bag in place. The idea is to shade the canes and protect them from the wind. I probably lost more roses because I soaked them in water first, so the canes were eager to grow and the roots were not.
I did not have this problem in Minnesota, Missouri, or Michigan. All three states were also famous for plenty of rain but not so much sun. Roses should be planted in December in Phoenix. December!
Basic rose planting:
1. Buy one bag of top soil and one bag of mulch for every two rose bushes, whether ordered bare root or purchased locally.
2. Dig a hole at least as big as a bushel basket. Dig out a whole area if groups of roses will be planted.
3. Make a cone or pyramid of soil at the bottom of the hole.
4. Place the rose on the cone and pull top soil on top of the roots, which should be spread out evenly.
5. The bud union should be below the level of soil in the upper Midwest. The bud union is where the wild root base is grafted to the hybrid rose above.
6. Fill in the soil with top soil and mound it up over the canes. Protection of the canes will be especially important in desert areas, but it should also be provided in colder climates.
7. Water is used to settle the soil around the rose. Soil can be mounded around the bush to create a bowl, to retain more water in the future.
8. Pour a half bag of mulch over the rose bush and mound it over the canes, which should be pruned back to six inches or so. Pruning will promote root growth.
9. If necessary, open up a paper grocery bag, fold the flaps down, and put the flap end toward the ground. I use the flaps to hold soil and much, so the bags do not fly away in the wind. The paper bag tube goes over the pruned canes and holds either soil or mulch to keep the bag in place.
10. The roses should be watered frequently, especially the canes. When the leaves sprout, buds are not far behind.
General Rose Care
Roses are easy grow, if we remember that they need pruning and watering. They should get plenty of nutrition, too, but pruning and watering matter more.
a. The general rule for watering is a bucket of water per rose each week. If you want better production, save rain water or let tap water sit in a barrel for a few days.
b. Prune all dead wood away. When a rose bloom starts to fade, prune just above a five leaf stem. Bushes need pruning and thrive when pruned. If the flowers are allowed to set seed, the bush will slow down. John 15:1-10
c. For nutrition, grass mulch will rot into the soil and provide a haven for earthworms. Manure and compost can also be added to a barrel of water, to provide “manure tea” or “compost tea,” an easy way to boost microbial action in the soil. Add a goldfish to eat mosquito larvae.
d. Old or composted manure, compost, or organic matter can be placed on top of the soil for nutrition. For instance, orange and banana peels can be tucked under the mulch to rot away without being unsightly.
e. Decorative wood mulch is an attractive way to hold water in the soil and decrease the number of weeds. If the mulch layer is thick enough, only a few straggly weeds can get through.
f. Always plant a member of the garlic family near roses. I like to have garlic chives spread through the rose bed, crowding out weeds. The chives push through the mulch, bloom, and provide flavor for salads. I have elephant garlic in one bed and regular garlic in many other places, near each rose bush.
Roses – Creation or Evolution
The greatest blessing of growing roses is realizing that the gardener does almost nothing while God produces the most amazing flowers. Ugly canes leaf out. Tiny buds appear and grow. Then the five sepals open. Finally the bud opens. I often cut one rose, place it in a bud vase, and watch it open indoors. The five sepals at the bottom of the bud must be open for a bud to open after being cut.
Several people have said, after getting an Olympiad rose: “I can’t believe this is a rose. It is too perfect.”
The ugliest bare root rose turns into a bush filled with blooms. No plant is uglier at the beginning. No bloom is more valued when received. I have been receiving rose catalogs for years. Every year there are new varieties. Man has cross-pollinated roses to generate new hybrids, but those roses have already existed in the mind of God. The newest roses must come from the genetic code implanted in all roses. When roses are cross-pollinated, man guesses that the good characteristics of two roses will combine to make a better rose. No one knows. Peace has generated Pink Peace and Chicago Peace.
Once, a Queen Elizabeth sent out a long, long cane. Someone was able to clone the cane and produced Climbing Queen Elizabeth. No one planned that. No one can tell anyone how this happened. But we can still buy that Climbing Queen Elizabeth today, meaning that the canes were able to be copied.
How does that happen? Roses produce seeds, if they are allowed. The seeds can be planted to grow a new rose. If the rose pollinates itself, it will be the same type, but cross-pollinating will generate a new variety. Almost all bushes will also reproduce without sex. If a cane is placed in water, it will grow roots. The rooted cane can be put in soil and turned into a new rose bush. This is what they did to reproduce Climbing Queen E.
I once pruned some rose canes and left them on the ground (not a good idea). They were covered with autumn leaves and kept moist, accidentally. Later they were rooted to the ground, trying to grow new bushes.
Rose Garden Design
One of my biggest decisions in this yard is: “Can I get a shovel into the ground here?” We have clay soil, very hard to dig when dry, messy when wet. Clay with the right amount of moisture is heavenly to dig. That seldom happens, unless the area is mulched or loaded with organic matter.
Roses need sun but they do not like to be roasted to death against a masonry wall. The west side of our chapel has that type of wall, so I am planting sunflowers on the other side of the sidewalk to shade the roses in the later summer. The sun can roast the sunflowers. They will love it. In their dappled and moving shade (due to the movement of the sun), the roses should thrive.
Roses, like birdfeeders, should be close the place where we can enjoy them. I try to group the same variety together. This produces a mass of color. One member, years ago, was pulled into getting the rainbow mix of all the bulbs he ordered. The rainbow mix was cheaper. After he was all done, he realized it was a mistake. Too many colors make the eyes dance around.
Two color contrast is attractive. I have planted white and red bulbs. This year I will have white roses growing among the red roses. Near the chapel I have two colors alternating. One flower is Liverpool Remembers. The other is Peace. Double Delight is so popular that I grow 4-6 bushes together. Then I can cut a bouquet of one variety.
God can do something with roses that we cannot manage with our own clothes. Cut a bouquet of every rose in the garden. All the colors will blend wonderfully together. The roses will stun everyone, especially if you ask, “Can we put such colors together in one outfit and look sane?”
Matthew 6:28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
I am just studying design in an art course (computer graphics). I do not know very much about the subject. But I do think that plenty of roses will look good anywhere, given the proper environment: enough sun, good soil, and plenty of water.