Garden Guy column: Consider roses – a versatile plant

As you shop for new plants for your gardens this year, consider roses. Most people like roses and many grow them. But many also do not grow them for various reasons. The most common are that they are hard to grow because they are known to be fussy and have so many requirements for maintenance and ultimate success.

Most assumptions are true but outdated. In years past as gardening grew in popularity professionals in the industry began to develop new varieties of many plants. Roses were among those that became wildly popular. The trend and interest in those days was in hybrid tea roses – those that had long stems and perfectly formed flowers. These did indeed suffer from the need for large amounts of pampering and fussing to produce the picture-perfect rose.

Fast forward to today where trends have changed. Roses have remained popular and many new varieties have continued to be created. Recent years have found rose breeders not only breeding new scents, colors, types, and sizes that meet many differing gardening situations, but specifically have bred less work into them which todays gardeners demand.


In my opinion, roses are among the best plants for our Panhandle gardens. The main enemies of roses are moisture (the diseases it encourages) and insect pests (the damage they inflict).

Excessive moisture and humidity are problems that we rarely have here, so they are largely not a consideration. I can only recall two summers in over 20 years where we had enough rain and ongoing humidity that I had a few problems with black spot and mildew.

Insect pest resistance as well as moisture problems have been addressed by breeders resulting in plants that have high tolerance to these. Thus, the key to enjoying growing roses today is properly researching and selecting based on climate and characteristics where most, if not all, of these old traits can be minimized or eliminated.

When it comes to watering, fertilizing, deadheading, and pruning, think of roses that you may have seen in cemeteries having no irrigation system. Some of my relatives are buried in cemeteries like this. Roses planted years ago happily grow year after year with minimal or no fertilizing, watering, or other care. These old cemetery roses are part of the heritage of the new, low-care roses of today.

Watering deeply and infrequently is best for both the roses and the stewardship of water.

Fertilizing and deadheading will produce better results but are not necessary for enjoyment and success. I have never used fungicides, insecticides, or other chemical products on my many roses. May largest problem, aphids, is handled by strong streams of water to knock them off the plants. The two summers where we had more moisture than usual, I ignored the issue, watered so that the plants were not wet at night and it was a non-issue for me.

Fussy? You can choose to fuss over them or not. If properly selected, there will be no need to be fussy, unless you want to be.

This article originally appeared on Amarillo Globe-News: Garden Guy column: Consider roses – a versatile plant