The beauty of roses has captivated people almost as long as they have walked the Earth. While there are several species of the genus Rosa, it is believed that the earliest known cultivation of roses began in China some 5,000 years ago. Since then, there have been numerous types grown for not only medicinal or edible qualities, but also for scent, color and form.
Rose types developed from 1867 to today are considered modern roses: hybrid teas, polyanthas, floribundas, grandifloras, climbers, miniatures and shrubs. 1867 marks the first year the hybrid tea was introduced. Those types developed prior to 1867 are known as the old garden roses: china roses, tea roses (name given from the scent of crushed, not dried, leaves), noisette and bourbon. More types and varieties are being created all the time.
To choose the type that’s right for you, peruse online catalogs and visit local nurseries that typically begin stocking roses in late January. Some are sold as bare-root whereas others are sold in containers. Plant bare-root roses in January. Container grown roses can be transplanted from late January until early May. Roses prefer well-drained soil with six to eight hours of sun.
Roses that bloom once do so on last year’s growth and should not be pruned until after their heavy spring/summer blooming is finished. These are typically the ramblers, climbers and some old garden rose types. All others are the repeat-bloomer types and should be pruned in late January to mid-February. Cut these two to three feet from the ground. The goal is to remove dead wood, stimulate new growth, and control size and shape. For optimal growth direction, prune the remaining canes an inch or two above the bud that faces away from the interior of the plant.
January and February are generally ideal months for planting and pruning roses. Knowledge of what types you already have or plan to purchase will increase your success rate of having healthy plants and being a happier gardener.
To see a fantastic display of old garden roses, visit the Armstrong Park Rose Garden. A project of the New Orleans Old Garden Rose Society since 1992, in cooperation with the City of New Orleans Parks and Parkways Department. No public funds have ever been used to create or maintain the garden. This is one of the finest collections in the world of old roses for warm climates.