While many will opt for sweet treats and cut flowers this Valentine’s Day, the garden pros at Pike Nurseries suggest giving a more long-lasting symbol of love and beauty that will bring joy well beyond the sweetheart season.
The Southeast’s largest garden center offers a plentiful selection of dozens of rose varieties, each flaunting sweet smells, soft petals and iconic blooms.
A staple in many Southern gardens, roses can often be intimidating for beginner gardeners who may not know where to start in planting and caring for these botanical beauties. With a few simple tips from Pike Nurseries, anyone can successfully grow roses and enjoy their fragrance every spring and summer.
Choosing the perfect plant
With so many colors and varieties to choose from – from traditional red to purple and multi-colored – picking the perfect rose for the available space is key to its long-term success. When selecting a rose, the pros recommend considering the growth habits of each variety. For instance, shrub roses make great upright options for borders and come in more compact versions to give that perfect accent to your space. Green thumbs can also choose from climbing roses, which can be trained to climb trellises or fences, or groundcover roses, which work well for covering large areas.
Putting down roots
Since most roses need full sun for maximum blooms, considering where to plant the rose bush is key. Getting roots established in early February will give the plants plenty of time to develop and grow strong before the blooming season arrives with the warmer temperatures. Be sure to dig a hole twice the width and same depth as the root ball to allow the plant to grow a strong horizontal foundation.
To help roses maintain moisture and control weed growth, the garden experts suggest adding two to four inches of mulch around the base of the bush after planting. Roses also prefer a regular watering schedule that can vary depending on weather and soil type – in most Southeastern climates a deep watering every two weeks is a great place to start, with supplemental watering potentially needed in hot, dry conditions. To help prevent diseases, the pros recommend watering at the base of the plant (not over the leaves or blooms which can cause fungus issues) and fertilizing once in spring after pruning and then monthly throughout the summer blooming season.
Once established, annual pruning of rose bushes is necessary to control the size of the plant, remove old and diseased canes and reinvigorate the bush for a spectacular floral display in the warmer months ahead. The experts at Pike Nurseries recommend a “hard-prune” to cut the roses down about one-third in size between the start of the New Year and mid-February, allowing for a solid resting period prior to the start of new growth. Throughout the blooming season, the pros also suggest deadheading spent blooms to help the plant reallocate energy to new growth and flowers.
While many new rose varieties are generally disease resistant, all roses still need a bit of TLC to keep them at peak performance. Regularly treating roses with a three-in-one product, such as Bonide Rose Rx, is the best method to preventing fungal, mite and insect-based issues. Gardeners having trouble identifying problematic issues on their roses can also bring in a photo and sample of the plant to the in-store experts at any Pike Nurseries location to find a personalized solution.
Nearby stores are located in Matthews (1016 Devore Lane) and Charlotte (12630 N. Community House Road). Visit www.pikenursery.com to learn more.