Sunday, December 07, 2008

How to Care for Heirloom (a.k.a. Low Maintenance) Roses -- No Chemicals, No Sprays and No Special Treatment Required

Heirloom roses are wonderful because they grow with very little care. In response to a recent question, you do not need to use chemicals to grow these roses. If you are into organic gardening or low maintenance gardening, then old garden roses are the plants for you. Look for the following classes of roses: alba, moss, damask, portland, centifolia, and gallicas. Also, include in your selection species and rugosa roses.

Most likely, the only one of these to be found in the average garden center is the so called beach rose: either rugosa alba or the pink single rugosa. Fortunately, they are easily available from specialty nurseries, such as: Antique Rose Emporium, Ashdown Roses, and Rogue Valley Roses. All three offer wonderful containerized own root roses. Rogue Valley Roses also has larger than normal roses for shipment.

Once you have the rose, planting is very simple. First, dig a hole a bit larger than the container. Mix as much organic matter into the soil which you removed as you wish. This could be compost, leaf mold, composted manure, Bumper Crop, or whatever else you desire. Plant the rose, tamp it down firmly, water, and mulch with more organic material.

After planting, old garden roses can fend for themselves. The reason we still have these roses in our gardens today is because they are able to thrive even with neglect. People did not continue to cultivate them because they were unhealthy and hard to grow, but because they are easy to grow and full of beauty. Many of the old roses available are found roses that survived without any help until someone 'discovered' them.
If you want to give them extra care, top dress them with compost once or twice a year. For more suggestions, and for those of us who can't sit back and do nothing, there is a wonderful book on growing roses organically called Growing Roses Organically by Barbara Wilde.
Pictured in this post from top to bottom are: Apothecary, Celsiana and Noisette.

Related posts:
Six Trouble-Free Roses for the Home Gardener
Creating the Rose Garden with a Central Brick Path
The Rose Garden in Spring and Summer: Daffodils replace the Lavender Border
How to Prune Roses, Part I: An Introduction
How to Prune Roses, Part II: Old Rose Pruning Secrets
How to Prune Roses, Part III: Why Prune?
Index of Rose Photos

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