Rookie Rosarian Riddles
(The 3Rs For Beginners)
A beginner has many questions as the growing season begins, and foremost among these are the selection of varieties to grow. My first year I purchased five bare-root plants at a discount store using as my guide the lovely picture of a bloom on each package. I would eventually regret that misguided choice.
Marketing is a smart tool used in most endeavors to enhance the desirability of a product being vended. The sale of roses is no different, and whether the attraction is presented as a picture on a container or a photo in a catalog, a little research before purchasing can reduce the chance for disappointment later. Suppliers of field grown plants grow each variety by the thousands, and a competent photographer can take a picture of a superb bloom from only one plant to represent the entire crop even if the variety is of dubious worth.
I will mention a few things the novice grower should keep in mind when selecting plants for the garden. Many of these observations can be useful as a reminder to the advanced rosarian:
- There are 37 classes of roses with some classes composed of hundreds of varieties.
- Decide early-on the ultimate use of the roses to be grown. Will they be used as landscape specimens, or more likely as cut flowers for the home? Focal attractions within a wide array of companion plants, or for exhibition?
- Consider how much time can be spent each week in tending the roses. This goes hand-in-hand with the ultimate use of the class chosen for growing.
- Think about how much tolerance for disease and pest damage will be acceptable. The hybridizers are striving to introduce pest resistant varieties, but pest free plants are still in the future.
- Choose to grow at least a few with characteristics desired personally. This can include a favorite color, pleasant aroma, miniature in size, or any number of other traits.
- Seek the help of a Consulting Rosarian or other well qualified rose grower for advice on selecting varieties to grow once you have chosen the class(es) you prefer. They can also provide helpful advice on planting site selection, soil preparation, planting instruction, and other beneficial recommendations.
- Purchase the plants from a reputable supplier. Buy only grade no.1 plants, and plant them during the proper time of year.
- Commit to perseverance in tending the Queen of flowers once the decision has been made to grow roses. The results can be exhilarating when viewing a near perfect bloom in the garden or when sharing a bouquet with a friend or an invalid.
The hobby of growing roses can provide a lifetime of enjoyment, and is especially enhanced by being a part of a rose society where experiences are shared and fellowship among rosarians is pleasurable. Enjoy your roses!
. . . Doug Whitt
Co-Editor, Master Rosarian
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