Fragrant Star of the Garden
- Roses are wonderful plants.
They come in all shapes and sizes, hundreds of colors, and many different
fragrances and flower forms. Many bloom all summer. There is a rose
for almost every purpose in the garden. Roses might be a challenge to
grow, but gardeners, especially rose people love the challenge. That’s why
growing roses in Colorado is so satisfying.
- Our climate ranges from a moderate
Zone 4 or 5 in Denver to a cold Zone 2 in the
mountains. Temperatures can go from frying to freezing overnight.
Most of our native soils consist of either sand or clay. We also have high winds and
mixed-up seasons. On the plus side, we have lots of sunshine and
a lot less trouble with pests than people in more humid, temperate
- There are some great roses like
'Knockout' (pictured) which can bloom like crazy with only 2 hours of sun, is
hardy to minus 20 degrees, It's drought-resistant, disease-resistant, and never
- By taking special care when choosing a planting site, proper
planting, providing winter protection and improving the soil, all of these
problems can be overcome. Choose a planting site with a minimum
of six hours sunlight a day, protection from strong winds and access
to water. (Roses require 1" of deep watering a week.) Planting on
the east side of structures or buildings where roses are exposed to the
mildest sunlight and protection from the worst of our winter winds,
often gives the best results. Avoid planting up against the south
or west side of an unshaded structure. Reflected heat can burn your
plant in summer, or fool a bush into breaking dormancy in January and February.
- No matter your type of soil you have, soil amendments are essential when
planting your rose choice. Whether preparing a full bed or just planting
just one bush, work in a one third portion of organic material (compost
or peat moss), into a two thirds portion of existing soil 8 - 12"
- Gardeners are most familiar
with modern roses like hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, climbers
and ramblers. Not as familiar are some shrub varieties and English
roses. Roses that are not hardy in colder
climates are usually grafted onto a hardier root stock. They must be protected
from severe freezing or they may die back to below the graft and you will only
have what come off the root stock below. We can prevent
this by covering the graft with 1 - 2 inches of soil when planting
and by mulching the canes up to one foot deep in winter.
- Mountain gardeners
can only grow grafted roses by providing extra winter protection. In the
past few years other varieties of roses have been introduced or rediscovered
which are growing on their own root stock. Plants
growing on their own roots are usually hardier. If they die back
to the ground, from the root that grows back is the same rose that you planted.
- Some recent introductions
that grow on their own roots and are hardy enough to grow in our
mountains are Canadian roses. They are similar to floribundas and climbers.
Rugosa roses grow 5’-6’ tall and are great for hedges. Mini roses have
smaller flowers and only grow 18"-24" tall and wide. A newer introduction
is the Flower Carpet rose. It grows 12"-18" tall, spreads 3’-4’
wide and blooms continuously.
that have been rediscovered lately are the Antique roses. These roses have
been in cultivation for over 100 years. They are generally larger bushes
with strong fragrances. Some are repeating, but most put all their
energy into one glorious show in June.