Looking for roses? Well, you’ve come to the right place! We have dozens of varieties for you to choose from at each of our Portland garden center locations, including grandiflora roses, floribunda roses, hybrid tea roses, climbing roses, and carpet roses. No matter the fragrance, color, or disease-resistance you are searching for, there is a rose for everyone!
Did you know that the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park is world acclaimed? Thanks to the famous curator, Harry Landers, the garden has become a mecca for breeders to trial their new, yet-to-be released rose varieties. Since the Pacific Northwest is known for rain, we are also known to grow an array of fungal diseases, so what better place to test a rose for disease resistance than Portland?
How to Select Roses for Your Garden
There are so many types and varieties of roses… how does one choose? To best select a rose that fits your needs, think about some desired characteristics:
- Flower color and size
- Disease resistance
- Form (miniature, bush, climbing, old garden roses)
Rose Planting Tips
A little advanced preparation goes a long way when it comes to growing healthy roses. The ideal time to plant is in early spring or fall during cool temperatures—however, our mild climate makes planting possible nearly year-round! Choose a well-drained spot in the garden with six or more hours of sun exposure per day; during hot weather, provide temporary shade to new plantings.
Prior to planting, clean debris from the ground and make sure your rose is fully hydrated. In hot weather, cut back rose by ⅓ or remove all open flowers and mature buds to reduce plant stress and help it adjust. Ensure proper spacing (3–4 feet between each plant) for good air circulation.
Roses enjoy soil that contains plenty of composted material such as G&B Soil Building Conditioner or Malibu Compost. Include an organic, slow-release fertilizer like G&B Starter Fertilizer or Portland Rose Society Organic Rose Food during planting.
If planting in containers, use a premium potting soil such as G&B or Baby Bu’s Potting Soil and follow these container size guidelines (deep is better than shallow):
- Mini roses: at least 10–12” deep
- Floribundas: at least 15” deep
- Hybrid tea/shrub roses: at least 18–22” deep
Tip: If a rose is grafted, plant graft union just above soil line; many modern roses are being grown on their own roots instead of being grafted.
How to Care for Roses
Once you have planted your rose, the commitment begins! Carefully examine your rose bushes for any signs of insect, disease, or cultural problems (see below for some common examples).
Feed your roses once per month or every 6–8 weeks during the growing season (late March or early April to late August). We prefer the Portland Rose Society 15-10-10 Fertilizer (synthetic) or G&B Rose & Flower Fertilizer (organic). Add supplements or amendments as needed (e.g. lime).
Maintain a regular watering schedule until fall rains arrive. Soil type, plant maturity, season, weather, and exposure all affect the amount of water needed by a rose plant. Be sure not to let your plants dry out and wilt; stress can result in pest and/or disease issues.
Once night temperatures drop into the low 30s, it’s time to winterize your plants.
- Prune long, floppy growth to about waist high to reduce potential wind damage.
- Clean dropped leaves from the ground, which can harbor pests and/or diseases.
- You can also sprinkle lime around the base of your roses to maintain soil pH through winter.
- Apply a thick layer of mulch around the crown (base) of plants; in early spring, move mulch away from the plant’s crown for proper air circulation and pest/disease prevention.
How to Prune Roses
Volumes have been written about the pruning of roses, and every gardener seems to have their own thoughts on the subject. One thing we all know is that no matter how you prune your rose plant, short of cutting it off below ground level, it will survive!
That being said, mid to late February or early March (around President’s Day) is the time to sharpen and clean those pruners and get to work. Annual pruning may be done to maintain plant size and health, while deadheading should be done regularly throughout the growing season to promote re-blooming. Remove or “deadhead” spent blossoms just after the petals begin to fall by cutting the stem just above a set of 5 leaflets with sharp pruners.
Hybrid Tea, Miniature & Floribunda Roses
After the annual pruning, the result will be a durable plant with only the strongest canes emerging from the bud union. Most of the upper part of the plant will be removed, resulting in an open vase shape about 12–18 inches tall. Step back and examine the entire plant as often as needed, paying special attention to the bottom portion from which the canes originate (bud union). Identify the young, strong canes—they are usually green and smooth, while older canes are darker, greyer, rougher, and less productive.
- Old canes; remove at origin (the bud union) using a sharp pruning saw or loppers; remove any stumps of old canes as well
- Young canes that cross through the middle of the plant; cut them back to the bud union or major cane of their origin
- Crowded canes—leave the stronger of the two present
- Remaining twiggy growth and old leaves (clean from the ground; old foliage may harbor fungus, disease, and hungry insects)
If you applied a layer of mulch during the winterization process, now is the time to move it away from the crown (base) of the rose. Again, this allows for proper air circulation and minimizes an environment conducive to pests and diseases. Discontinue any deadheading 6 weeks before the first frost (end of the growing season; late August) to “harden off” your plant before winter dormancy.
Climbers require different pruning than hybrid teas and floribundas. Remove old, unproductive canes, but keep in mind that no more than ⅓ of a climbing/shrub rose should be removed. Horizontally trained climbing roses should only have the laterals (short, upright shoots from main canes) cut back to about two eye buds.
Rose Pests & Diseases
Common pests and fungal/disease problems: aphids, spider mites, caterpillars, budworms, and rose slugs (sawfly larvae), powdery mildew, rust, black spot
- Beneficial insects: ladybugs, lacewings, praying mantises
- Neem Oil or MiteX: Topical pest control
- Bayer’s Insect Disease & Mite Control or Bayer All-In-One: Systemic products to protect from multiple problems for 30 days or more
- Liquid Fence or Repels All: Deer repellants (use regularly)
- Liquid Copper: Natural, biological fungal/disease control
- Bonide Infuse: Systemic fungal/disease control
- Turbo: Additive for pre-mixed sprays of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides; improves the effectiveness of the product
Visit Portland Rose Society, Vancouver Rose Society, or American Rose Society to learn more about roses, rose care, membership information, and more.