Buying and planting roses

With more than 14,000 varieties of roses, what should you consider when choosing roses for your yard?

First, you should decide where you are going to put roses in your landscape. There are many styles of roses for different landscape situations. I mention the common forms here. The most familiar rose is the long-stemmed, cut-flower type called a hybrid tea, with well-known varieties such as 'Queen Elizabeth,' 'Mr. Lincoln,' and 'Peace.' Hybrid teas are perfect as specimen plants for focal points in your yard.

Grandifloras, floribundas, and polyanthas are usually hardier and more disease resistant in Northern Nevada than many of the hybrid teas. They produce large quantities of clustered blooms rather than single flowers. Grandifloras can grow 8 feet to 10 feet tall and make great barrier plants and hedges. Floribundas are smaller than hybrid teas and are excellent as low-growing flower borders. Polyanthas have small blooms in big sprays and stay very compact, growing less than 2 feet tall. The 'Sweetheart Rose' is a polyantha.

Miniature roses grow only 1 foot to 11Ú2 feet tall and are perfect in containers or rock gardens, or as a very low border at the front of a bed. Climbing roses can be trained using a trellis or other means of support. Shrub roses continuously bloom for a long time and don't need much pruning. There are even ground cover roses.

When you decide which types of roses you want, look for plants with strong new growth and healthy leaves. Avoid roses with blackened canes, a sign of canker disease. A rose in a five-gallon container will have a much more developed root system than one that may have had its roots pruned to fit in a one-gallon container. Roots should not stick out of the holes of the container.

It is almost too late to buy bare-root plants now, as the roots may not develop in time to meet the hot weather. But, if purchasing bare-root stock, know that they are graded: 1, 11Ú2, and 2. Number 1 plants are the best. Look for thick green canes and a mass of sturdy roots. Avoid those beginning to leaf out, and those with canes or roots that appear weak or dried out. Packaged bare-root plants sold indoors may have heated up and dried out, but you may not be able to see the roots because of the packaging. They are not usually a dependable purchase by the time they are marked down and on sale.

One more thing to look for when purchasing roses is their American Rose Society rating. Roses are rated on a scale: 10 is perfect, 9.0-9.9 outstanding, 8.0-8.9 excellent, 7.0-7.9 good, 6.0-6.9 fair, and 5.9 and lower are of questionable value. Tags on rose plants at the nursery should have their rating listed, as well as their disease resistance.

Keep in mind that buying a good quality plant will save you energy in the long run!

For information, e-mail or call me at 887-2252. You can "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing or call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment