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Things I Once Believed (but now I don’t)

Updated: 5 days ago

'Pop' Warner, Master Rosarian, Golden Triangle Rose Society

Excerpt from "The Wit and Wisdom of “Pop” Warner."

Raised beds are always better than ground level beds. (While this is generally true, in a very sandy soil where drainage is adequate the raised beds may require more watering and fertilizing than is practical or is practiced.)

Roses should be planted with the bud union facing east. (I have found it makes absolutely no difference. Roses are not Muslims.)


Roses should be planted with the bud union high enough that they do not strike roots from above the union. (The theory that rooting above the bud union bypasses the roots of the under stock, and weakens the plant has not proven out in practice.)

Budded roses are better than own-root roses. (Some are, some are not, some it just doesn’t seem to make any difference. We just have to try them.)


Light soil is better than heavy soil because the roots can penetrate better. (Not necessarily so! As long as there is good internal drainage the heavier soil has given me better results. It holds moisture and fertilizer better and less staking is needed.)


There are red roses and then that other kind. (I have come to appreciate and even get excited about all shades of pinks, yellows, whites, mauves and blends. Roses, like people, come in different colors, shapes and sizes, each with its own kind of beauty.)

Roses are heavy feeders needing a lot of fertilization, and the more the better. (I have long since learned that too much of a good thing is a bad thing.)

If a rose won’t win a rose show it is not worth growing. (Now some of my favorite roses, especially the OGR’s, never go to the show. NEW DAWN never placed higher than third in the Climber class, but I would hate to lose it off my fence.

An AARS label is a guarantee of a good variety. (I now try to see them growing before succumbing to the yearly hype. It saves me money and bed space.)

It is extremely important to win at the rose show. (I feel that way only in April and October.)

Black spot does not survive on dead leaves. (Although experience has indicated that this is true, a couple of eminent rosarians have cited compelling scientific evidence to the contrary. Since I never argue with science, (only with scientists) I must concede the possibility. However, routine spraying with no attention to dead or fallen leaves has kept me essentially free of black spot for many years.)


Roses must be sprayed frequently and regularly with insecticides. (Since instituting a practice of spraying with insecticides only when insects are found and only where they are found, I have had no increase in insect damage and considerably less trouble with mites. I also saved money on insecticides and had less foliar burn.)


Organic gardeners have some weird ideas. (I still think so, but they have some good ones too. When they make sense I try them, and some of them work.)

Allowing hips to form induces dormancy or inhibits re-blooming. (I once snatched off every bloom as it faded, but when I started dabbling with hybridizing I noted that mother plants covered with seed hips bloomed just as often and as generously as the others. However, I did note that some seed-setting Floribundas seem to bloom less if not dead-headed.)


One should never wet the leaves, especially in the evening. (This seemed logical until I realized that in our climate the foliage stays wet with dew from dark until two or three hours after sunup. Water does not cause black spot; it merely dissolves spore masses so the spores can be blown by the wind.)


Never use loppers to cut canes too large to cut with hand shears, but rather use a saw. (For years I looked with horror on a pair of loppers in a rose patch. After observing some good rosarians using good sharp pass-through type loppers and seeing the results I decided they often cause less damage than the saws, I bought a pair and like them.)

Some people have “green thumbs.” (It is obvious that some people grow things better than others but I have concluded that instead of a green thumb they have a dirty thumb. We have to work with roses in the beds and not from an armchair.)


Plant hobbyists such as rosarians are loners and prefer plants to people. (Nothing could be further from the truth. I have never seen people who liked each and liked to be together more than rosarians.)

Roses are too much trouble. (What isn’t? No activity has given me greater returns for my trouble than my roses.)

I am an expert rosarian. (I blush to think that once I actually believed that!)

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