Roses are Red,...

No flower is more beautiful than the rose. It's unique because it's a part of history, folklore, romance and tradition. The rose has been used to decorate stamps, money, emblems, pottery and fabric; yet it is still misunderstood. Their beauty suggests they are difficult to grow. To the contrary, roses are among the easiest flowering plants to grow. Annuals must be planted new each spring. Perennials bloom for just a few short weeks, but are a permanent part of the garden that will provide armfuls of fragrant flowers. Roses come in many varieties and colors.

Here are a few examples: English Roses: Heritage, pink; Fair Blanc, white; Othello, red; Pilgrim, yellow. Rosa Rugose Roses: Hansa, purplish-red; Grootendorst, pink; Snow Owl, white; Thresa Bugnet, salmon. Shrub roses: The Fairy, pink; Austrian Copper, yellow-orange and scarlet; Yellow Moss, yellow; Meidiland, hybrid - 6 colors.

Here are a few tips on how to bring the beauty and color of roses to your garden.

Begin by planting them properly. This is where most of us fail and why many roses never survive a harsh winter. Roses must be planted as you would a shrub or tree - only after proper preparation of the soil. A large hole, about 12 inches in diameter, and just as deep, will assure easy root development. Prepare the soil by adding compost, peat moss and dried cow manure. This will encourage quick root development and fast establishment in the garden. Be sure your rose bush is planted deep enough to cover the graft or union point of the plant. The graft is a swollen area that resembles a fist. Branches develop from this point, so it is important that it be protected from harsh weather at all times.

Roses do best in full sun, but will do quite well with a minimum of 5 hours of direct sun. The soil must be rich in organic matter, and it is important that you fertilize on a monthly basis. Watering is important, too. It must be done regularly - try to keep water off the foliage to help prevent disease on the leaves.

One of the secrets of growing healthy roses is proper pruning, which although easy, scares some people away. When a rose is planted, it is ready to go and you must not prune it until the first flower fades. As the blossom falls apart, cut back the flowering stem to just above the second set of five-leaflet leaves (3 to 5 inches below the flower); if you prune further down it will take longer for the plant to grow. Remove suckering branches that may develop below the graft in the fall and again in the spring. Pruning in the fall controls height, and pruning in the spring cleans the plant of any winter damage. Pruning and fertilizing should be kept to a minimum in the fall. Stop fertilizing roses in late August so the plants have time to become hard and not encourage new growth. Insects and disease can best be controlled with a pre-mixed combination insecticide and fungicide spray. If you grow many roses, the American Rose Society recommends that you use Orthene and Funginex.

The Floribunda family provides the strongest roses for the beginner. They develop flowers in clusters on a compact-growing plant. Most varieties are much hardier than hybrid teas, flowering right up until frost, but you'll need to protect them during winter. Second in hardiness is the Grandiflora, a cross of the floribunda and the magnificently large-flowered, long-stemmed hybrid teas. If you are looking for a little height to the garden, this family of roses is for you. So, plant your roses - your friends will never know how easy it is!

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