Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Roses without Problems?

août 6Roses have such a reputation for playing the diva that many gardeners expect to have to prune, spray, clean and protect them in the winter just to keep them alive. But it’s not always true that roses are difficult to grow. Yes, there are capricious roses demanding constant attention and others that are insect and disease prone. As a laidback gardener, you should avoid those like the plague! Search instead for “easy-to-grow” roses and ones that are solidly hard in your area.

Most hybrid tea roses and grandifloras are in full diva mode and should be avoided. All climbing roses need to be fixed to their support, an extra step I find takes them beyond the “easy care” label: remember, you’re dealing with serious thorns here! Most floribunda roses are iffy too, although there are a few tough one. In other categories, though, there are roses that most laidback gardeners would find quite acceptable.

Shrub roses, groundcover roses and miniature roses are good choices in cold climates, as most are hardy to zone 5 or 4 and sometimes even zone 3. And among them are many that are also very resistant to diseases, although not always insects.

But the lesson to be learned here is to do your research before you buy a rose. Is it hardy in your area… without winter protection? Is it resistant to insects and diseases? You’d be surprised how many roses that fit precisely that definition.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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