Culture and Production of Roses, Part 1 Primer

Beginners and “old pros” alike can profit from the experience of others when selecting rose varieties. By visiting botanical gardens and talking with local gardeners, nursery producers and garden store operators, you can learn which varieties are best adapted to your area.

Most rose enthusiasts agree that roses require extra-tender loving care, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The following guidelines will make your rose growing experience more successful and enjoyable.

Picking the Planting Site

Many rose failures can be linked directly to poor site location. A site that provides sufficient sunlight, good soil and good air flow is of utmost importance.

Roses require a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Where some shade cannot be avoided, a location with morning sun is best. Morning sun will help dry dew from the foliage and reduce leaf diseases.

Next to sunlight, nothing is more important for successful rose culture than the soil. Roses require a well-drained, moderately fertile soil having a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 Air spaces between soil particles are essential for air and water movement into and out of the soil. The fertility and acidity of a well-aerated soil are also easier to correct and maintain than those of a more compact soil. Sandy soils generally have adequate air spaces between particles while heavy clay soils may require sand or organic matter to increase aeration. Failure results if the rose bed is located in a poorly-drained area of the landscape. If you cannot avoid a poorly-drained site, raise the bed with 6 to 8 inches of topsoil.

Preparing the Soil

Thoroughly plow or spade the planting area at least 12 inches deep and remove any rocks or debris. A more desirable practice is to prepare the soil in an entire bed instead of digging individual holes. A 4-inch layer of organic matter such as peat moss, composted pine bark or leaf mold incorporated thoroughly into the bed may be beneficial in certain soils. Some rose growers also incorporate natural organic fertilizers such as cotton-seed meal, milorganite or manure into the planting bed.

If you are serious about top-notch results from your roses, you may wish to fumigate the bed before planting. Many soil-borne insects, diseases and weeds can be eliminated by soil fumigants.

Buying Plants

Expect to pay higher prices for better quality plants. Buy from reputable sources – a licensed garden center or nursery, an established rose company or a well-known mail-order source. Cheap plants are just that – cheap – and will often produce poor growth and flowers the first year.

Rose plants are usually graded No. 1, 1 ½ and 2 based on size and number of canes. Grade No. 1 indicates top quality. These plants have three to five canes 18 inches long. Grade No. 1 ½ will have two canes 15 inches long. Grade No. 2 will have two canes 12 inches long).

Buy plants with vigorous looking canes and avoid those that appear shriveled or discolored.

In recent years, roses have also been marketed as container-grown plants. They transplant best during the spring and early summer months. Container-grown plants generally have a better root system than bare-root stock and so suffer less transplanting shock.

Selecting Rose Cultivars

Selecting roses can be a confusing task. There are more than 6,000 rose cultivars (propagated varieties) having a wide variety of flower colors and growth characteristics. Your choice will depend on your personal preference for flower color, growth characteristics, plant performance and availability.

Roses are classified according to their growth habit and flower form. The following are the major classifications of roses.

Hybrid Tea: Hybrid tea roses are the most popular class of rose on the market today. Plants are strong and upright in growth habit and have large flowers borne singly on long stems. Hybrid tea roses make excellent arrangements and are preferred by florists.

Floribunda: As the name implies, floribunda roses flower abundantly throughout the growing season. Flowers are smaller than those of the hybrid tea roses and are borne in bouquet-like clusters. Some cultivars are low growing and are often grown with annuals and perennials in beds or borders.

Grandiflora: Plants of the grandiflora class combine features of the hybrid and floribunda roses. Flowers are borne in clusters like floribunda roses and have the form and long stems of the hybrid tea roses. The flowers are smaller and plants are taller than those of hybrid tea roses.

Climber: Climbers are a large class consisting of many different sub-types. Climbing hybrid teas are mutants of hybrid tea cultivars that are vegetatively propagated for their climbing growth habit. Trailing climbers can be grown on walls or as ground covers on banks. Ramblers are still another type of climber. They form dense clusters of small flowers on long, vigorous canes and may grow as much as 20 feet in a single season.

Miniature: Flowers and leaves of miniature roses are smaller than those of other types of roses; however, plants are not always miniature in size. Some miniature rose plants may grow from 4 to 6 feet tall at maturity.

“Old Roses” and Species Roses: Old roses are cultivated garden roses that were in existence before 1867 and have remained genetically pure through the years. These include the European and Chinese ancestors of today’s “modern” roses. Growth habit and flower form of old roses are quite diverse. Species roses are the native or naturalized roses propagated and sold commercially.

For more info, contact:

Dept.of Agriculture
D.A. Compound, Elliptical Rd., Diliman,Quezon City
Tel. Nos. (632) 929-6065 to 67 / 920-3991 / 928-1134

source:, photo from


  1. By Eden McLean


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