Peren­nial of the year: The rose

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The rose first ap­peared around 35 mil­lion years ago and is part of the Rosaceae fam­ily which is cru­cial for our food sup­ply (think ap­ples, straw­ber­ries, etc…). There are more than 150 species of roses but only a few are used in today’s gar­dens.

Roses have been associated with the hu­man pop­u­la­tion since the ear­li­est recorded his­tory. The old­est record is from China and dates back more than 7,000 years ago, and their pop­u­lar­ity has never faded since. Mod­ern rose hy­bridiza­tion started in Western Europe in the 18th cen­tury, and today there are more than 11,000 ex­ist­ing va­ri­eties of hy­brid roses, with more be­ing bred ev­ery year.

The rose in­dus­try is di­vided into three main ar­eas, the fra­grance in­dus­try, the fresh flower/florist in­dus­try and the gar­den in­dus­try.

The fra­grance in­dus­try uses mostly two species grown specif­i­cally for that pur­pose. R. Gal­lica and R. Da­m­a­s­cena. The in­dus­try is con­cen­trated on the Mediter­ranean basin where the cli­mate is ideal for their cul­ture. It takes 10,000 pounds of rose petals to make one liter of rose oil, one of the most widely used com­po­nents in mak­ing per­fumes.

The florist rose in­dus­try pro­duces more than one bil­lion stems a year on more than 30,000 acres of green­houses world­wide. The in­dus­try started in Europe and North America near the main ur­ban cen­ters in the late 19th Cen­tury and has moved into ar­eas with cli­mates better suited for their pro­duc­tion. Columbia and Ecuador in South America, Kenya and Ethiopia in Africa and now China and In­dia are the ma­jor pro­duc­ing ar­eas, al­though there is a small but grow­ing trend to pro­duce lo­cally grown fresh flow­ers once again.

Last but not least, gar­den roses have been front and cen­ter in the gar­den since the Mid­dle Ages when they were widely grown for their medic­i­nal qual­i­ties. The in­dus­try today is largely con­cen­trated in developed countries (U.S., Canada, Europe, Ja­pan, and Australia).

There are many classes of roses, which some­times can lead to some con­fu­sion. Some of the most com­monly sold are:

• Hy­brid Tea Roses, which are the clas­sic, long stemmed va­ri­eties.

• Gran­di­flora Roses, which are sim­i­lar to Hy­brid Tea, but usu­ally have sev­eral blooms per stem.

• Flori­bunda Roses, which are more com­pact and multi-flow­ered.

• Minia­ture roses, which are smaller spec­i­mens, of­ten grown in con­tain­ers as gifts.

• Climb­ing Roses, which are self-ex­plana­tory.

• Land­scape or Shrub Roses which are the main com­po­nent of today’s North Amer­i­can rose in­dus­try. Once con­sid­ered just a hodge-podge of va­ri­eties that did not fit any of the other cat­e­gories, they have led a rev­o­lu­tion in the land­scape.

How to Grow

Due to new breed­ing work, today’s roses are much eas­ier to grow than older va­ri­eties. They have been bred for vigor, dis­ease re­sis­tance and con­trolled growth mean­ing much less work for the home gar­dener.

Full sun is a must for roses be­cause, with­out six to eight hours of full sun, you’ll have fewer flow­ers, long leggy (and weak) stems with a higher like­li­hood of dis­ease. Roses ap­pre­ci­ate a deep wa­ter­ing dur­ing dry spells, and drip ir­ri­ga­tion is ideal to avoid dis­eases caused by wet fo­liage. The three most com­mon dis­eases on roses are black spot, rust, and pow­dery mildew. Dis­ease pres­sure varies by re­gion, but hu­mid­ity is the worst cause. As a whole, today’s mod­ern va­ri­eties are much more re­sis­tant mak­ing the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence of grow­ing roses eas­ier than in the past.

Prun­ing tips

Land­scape roses don’t re­quire tricky prun­ing, but reg­u­lar prun­ing keeps plants com­pact. Prun­ing is vi­tal for roses planted in tight ar­eas such as en­tries or along side­walks and im­proves flow­er­ing in hedges.

Many ground-cover roses don’t re­quire prun­ing at all un­less canes be­gin to reach into ar­eas sur­round­ing plant­ings. Al­ter­na­tively, you can prune plants back an­nu­ally by one-third to one-half to en­cour­age fresh growth.

Us­ing hedge shears, lightly prune plants to main­tain size. Prune in win­ter (just be­fore plants break dor­mancy in cold­est zones). Also, trim lightly after a flush of blooms, as flow­ers fade. This type of post-bloom prun­ing in­creases flower num­ber, yield­ing plants blan­keted with blos­soms.

Gar­den roses are still the num­ber one gar­den plant in most countries, and that trend will con­tinue due to the con­tin­u­ous ad­vances in breed­ing which keep bring­ing su­pe­rior ge­net­ics to the al­ready Queen of the Flow­ers.

Ar­ti­cle pro­vided by the Na­tional Gar­den Bureau.

Roses need a well lit lo­ca­tion to flour­ish.

Reg­u­lar prun­ing helps keep rose bushes com­pact.

Trim­ming lightly after a flush of roses en­cour­ages more blos­soms.

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