Pink rose

The rose, belonging to the plant family Rosaceae, is primarily native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. All roses were originally wild, coming from several parts of the world, including North America, Europe, northwest Africa and many parts of Asia.

As for Oklahoma, roses have always been and continue to be one of the most popular flowers. Although some roses are considered high-maintenance landscape plants (mostly heirlooms), several new varieties and species exist that are carefree and easy to grow and make beautiful additions to any landscape.

Proper pruning will help get your roses off to a good start in the spring, but let’s first start with some basics.

Site selection: Plant in an open, sunny location protected from strong winds. Plants should have at least six hours of full sun each day. To avoid reflected heat and sunburn, plant them at least 2 feet away from any wall. Avoid planting under trees where they might suffer from a lack of sunlight and competition with tree roots.

Site preparation: Like most plants, roses prefer a well-drained location rich in organic matter. Soils for roses should be slightly acidic, around 6.0 pH. A soil test is recommended before adding any amenities. As needed and per the soil test, add elemental sulfur to lower the pH or add hydrated lime to raise the pH.

Plant selection: Before purchasing rose plants, analyze your garden or yard to determine what size, type and color would be most pleasing. Consider your own interests and ability in gardening. There are so many varieties available these days that it might be advantageous to visit your local garden center for additional advice.

Pruning: Nearly all roses need some form of pruning. Spring is the best time to prune all varieties, except those that bloom in the spring such as climbing roses (prune those after flowering). Prune after the threat of the last hard freeze is behind us, usually mid- to late-March. Because pruning stimulates new growth, pruning too early may cause that new growth to be susceptible to damage by late cold snaps. The objectives of pruning bush roses are to remove dead, damaged and diseased canes, to improve its overall shape, and to enhance air circulation by opening the center of the plant. Pruning also can affect the numbers and sizes of blossoms. Prune moderately for more and average-sized blooms; prune heavily for fewer and larger flowers.

Fertilization: Fertilize roses with an organic or slow-release balanced fertilizer at pruning time, or up to four to six weeks after new spring planting. Apply a complete fertilizer or special rose fertilizer as per the label’s recommended rate. More is not better because too much nitrogen will decrease blooming. The fertilizer should be worked shallowly into the soil and around the plant, taking care to keep it away from the stems. Additional applications may be made every four to six weeks during the growing season. Final fertilization for the year should occur around mid-August, as excess nitrogen produces new soft growth that could be susceptible to winter kill.

Disease control: Several measures are recommended to control diseases. Some of the common measures that will greatly help are: purchase disease-resistant cultivars, avoid overhead watering, water early in the day so the plant dries out before dark, plant with good ventilation, remove and destroy infected leaves and canes, and mulch soil around plants. The most common diseases are black spot and powdery mildew, although the virus Rose Rosette is becoming increasingly problematic in our state. Spray early and often with recommended fungicides. 

Lunch and Learn with the Master Gardeners

March 17: Container gardening and more

March 24: Herbs

March 31: Tomatoes and garden soil

April 7: Heirlooms

April 14: Curb appeal

April 21: Pollinators

Presentations are 12:10-12:50 p.m. at

Central Library, 400 Civic Center. Free.

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