Photo | Mobile Botanical Gardens
By Mary Jo Broussard, Mobile County Master Gardener / MobileCountyMasterGardeners.org
The fragrance of a rose is unmistakable and remarkable, yet many think of growing their own roses as an impossible task. This could not be further from the truth.
Roses are perennials like many other perennials we grow with absolute success. They differ little in their needs: sunlight (six+ hours per day), good soil, good nutrition, good air circulation and the right amount of water. Simple enough. A challenge we face with roses is disease and insects, but how many of us have grown tomatoes or other plants without those concerns in Mobile County? None, I’d venture to say.
OK, here’s how to do this successfully. Get the right rose to begin with, forgetting the Hybrid Teas (way too much care needed); go with an Old Garden rose instead. Some of these have been around for over 100 years and they require no spraying and little care — aside from deadheading rose hips to encourage repeat blooms. And oh, that fragrance!
Some of my favorites are Cramoisi Superieur, Archduke Charles, Lady Banks (no thorns), Quietness, Old Blush, Martha Gonzales, Marie Pavie, Carefree Beauty, Caldwell Pink, Prosperity, Belinda’s Dream and Louis Phillipe to name a few. These run the color spectrum; some are shrubs and others are climbers. All repeat-bloom except Lady Banks. I also recommend the newer variety Drift roses. I have grown them for several years with absolutely no care except watering.
Again, the key on the Gulf Coast is to give your plants plenty of sunshine. Remember that our frequent rains will delete fertilizer to all your plants, so care that you keep them fed. And most of all, to prevent diseases such as black spot, give them plenty of room to breathe and have good air circulation. This is no different than many of your other plant requirements.
Pruning is a good thing and easy to remember. Do it on Valentine’s Day or close to it. Begin by cutting out all the dead limbs. Next, cut out limbs that rub or cross another limb. Then cut back all remaining limbs to one-third the height of the shrub or climber. As you trim the limbs, favor the bud growth pointing away from the center of the bush, cutting the limb just above that bud. That way, your new growth will allow for more air circulation, not crowding toward the center.
When watering your roses, water only in the morning and aim at the base of the plant, not at the leaves. Never water in the afternoon, as that may leave water on leaves overnight and, with our natural humidity level, could lead to disease.
It really is that simple and easy to remember. So, where do you find these beauties? Mobile Botanical Gardens will be featuring a selection at their upcoming sale. If you want a wider selection, you can order online from Antique Rose Emporium.
Go smell the roses!
Spring Garden Events
What: 2021 Festival of Flowers, LoDa Style
Theme: All Creatures Great and Small
When: March 12-13, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; downtown area garden tours will take place 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; LoDa ArtWalk, March 12, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Cathedral Square, Mobile
Fee: Donation of your choice
More info: festivalofflowers.com
What: Guided, two-hour Garden Walk (half-mile); See 75 newer varieties of camellias, 40 egrets and hear the Great Blue Herons
When: March 13-14, 10 a.m. to noon
Where: Clark-Root Gardens, 2100 River Forest Road, Mobile
To register: Call 251-753-0348 (leave your name and phone number)
What: 2021 Plantasia, MBG Spring Plant Sale
When: In-person shopping: March 18, 1-4 p.m., March 19-20, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Mobile Botanical Gardens MarketPlace, 5151 Museum Drive, Mobile
More info: mbgrebloomshop.com
What: Easter Egg Hunts on the Great Lawn
When: March 27
Where: Bellingrath Gardens, 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore
Fee: Adults, $14. Children 5-12, $8.
More info: bellingrath.org
What: Walk the Charles Wood Japanese Garden (walking trail #1)
Where: 700 Forest Hill Drive, Mobile
When: Daylight hours daily
Fee: Free, but donations appreciated
More info: mobilejapanesegarden.com
What: Become a Mobile County MG in 2021
When: Classes run from early August to early November, every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Where: 1070 Schillinger Road N., Mobile
Fee: For materials used in the 12-week training
More info: mobilecountymastergardeners.org/about-us, call 251-574-8445 or email email@example.com
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