Perennial of the year: The rose
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.
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.