Growing Home Ep. 12- The Oh-So-Easy Approach to Roses with Terry Therrien and Len Giddix

Growing Home Ep. 12- The Oh-So-Easy Approach to Roses with Terry Therrien and Len Giddix

The rose has been a status symbol for ages, with only the wealthy having manicured rose gardens. But with today's plant breeding, anyone can have beautiful roses, if they give them enough love. Join hosts Terry and Len as they talk about planting and pruning roses, plus how to fight pests. Listen to our best smelling episode yet!

Hosts Len and Terry


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Rose Varieties

Tea Roses are the kind of rose you’d cut and bring into the house. They have large flowers and double petals, which give a multi-layered look. They may or may not have thorns and a fragrance. As well, they can be trimmed into that distinctive shape.  

Climbing Roses need space to grow upon, but Len says they can look remarkable. They have large flowers, and need support. They don’t need to be pruned, but “trained” in order to grow properly

Multiflora Roses act like rambling tea roses, but it blooms in a cluster for quarter-to half-dollar sized flowers. These flowers need some structure so they can hold up in the rain.

Shrub Roses have been bred to be more compact and fragrant. They are marketed toward people with smaller yards. Len says most roses sold nowadays are shrub roses.

Beach Roses are often associated with Cape Cod. These plants can grow in poor soil, but demand a lot of sun. The flowers are half an inch across, and can be white, pink or purple. They’re also fragrant, and it's hips are used to make jelly.

Native Roses include the Swamp Rose and the Virginian Rose. They’re single flowers, and are, as Len says, “as tough as nails”, because they can hold up in moister soils.   

Rose Breeding

1970’s: Plant breeders thought to breed disease resistance into roses. As a result, disease resistant roses tend to be less fragrant. Other roses had their thorns bred out, and gained bigger flowers. 

Tea Roses and Climbing Roses used to grafted on to Dr. Huey roses, because of its strong root stock. As a result, is possible to get yellow roses one year, and have a red rose growing the next year.

1990’s: started the popularity of own-root roses, resulting in heartier roots, and no Dr. Huey roses the next year.  Also, breeders start using branded pots to stand out. 

Re-blooming roses last from June to October, and you don’t need to trim them. 

Planting Roses

Generally, roses like to have at least six hours of sun each day.

Len says that roses are “finicky” because they need both constant moisture, and good drainage. In order to keep a good balance, you should use mulch with your roses.

Buy own-root roses. These roses aren’t grafted, and will stand up to the new England climate on their own.

When planting a rose from a pot, dig a hole that’s twice as wide as the pot, then fill it in at the same level the stem was in the pot. You can also mix compost into the soil you dug up. This makes the soil flaky and soft, so the roots will grow out of the pot soil.

Roses like an alkaline soil. Due to that, you should mix in sand or vermiculite to help with drainage. Mixing in peat can make the soil too acidic.

Except with the native roses, you should use fertilizers. Len recommends Rose-Tone by Espoma. Top dress a handful or two of fertilizer before mulching, then add a little more just before the plant flowers.

Pruning Roses

Prune roses with hand shears.

When pruning, see if you need to deadhead your roses, which means cutting off withered flowers. Use a clean cut to get rid of these dead parts, in order to encourage new blooms.

Don’t prune beach and native roses until after their season. These plants can get big, but you should cut them in the fall.

For shrub roses, prune them in the fall, then cut them back a foot in the spring.

When you trim a rose cane, make sure you keep a bud that faces outward. Otherwise, you’ll get a dense plant that wouldn’t have good airflow.

Pests and Diseases

Tea Roses need to be pruned regularly, and you need to watch for pests like aphids.

If you make the tissues of your plant too juicy, it can attract pests, which is why you should feed your plants with rose food.

Rose slugs, the larvae of the rose chaffer, tend to make holes in the rose.

A common disease is black spot, which is fungus growth on the plant. This is caused by a lack of air circulation inside the plant.

Len uses Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew by Bonide to take care of pests. The bugs will become paralyzed, and be broken apart by bacterial byproducts. He also uses neem oil, which is both insecticidal, and fungicidal. These products should be applied between rainstorms, as the plants are more vulnerable when wet.

Never spray the flower of a plant with insecticide, as it will harm helpful pollinators.

Spray pesticide early in the morning, so it can dry quickly.

Assorted Rose Facts

The Wars of the Roses were English civil wars in the 17th century. Both sides, the house of Lancaster and the House of York, represented each other with roses.

In the Victorian era, having a rose garden was considered a status symbol, and would require plenty of gardeners to maintain them.

The Rose Garden in Elizabeth Park in West Hartford is the oldest municipal rose garden in the U.S. Len recommends checking it out in late May or early June.

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Previous episode Growing Home Ep. 13- Don't Be a "Strangea" to Hydrangeas
Next episode Growing Home Ep. 11- Innovation in Equine Nutrition with Karen Davison Ph.D.

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