By Keri Byrum
Nothing illustrates a gardener’s passion more than a beautiful rose from his or her own garden. Can you raise roses successfully in Florida and the Gulf Coast region? Yes, you can! Read on to learn a few tips to make your roses flourish this year.
Spring Pruning: Now is the time to prune your roses. All roses, even Drift or Knock Out roses, benefit from a hard pruning in spring. Don’t be shy here, but remember that some tough love now keeps your plants flowering this summer. Remove about half the height of each stem, and cut just below where a leaf would attach. (This growing point is called the node.) This is also the time to correct the structure of your plants. Strive for an open, vaselike habit where stems don’t cross or rub into each other.
Fertilize Frequently: Roses need regular feeding to continue to grow the blooms you desire. Use a slow-release fertilizer every three months to keep your plants well fed and flowering. The intense heat and frequent rains of our Florida climate keep your plants growing, so they need the additional nutrients.
Pest and Disease Control: Begin by seeking out roses that list disease resistance as one of their key traits. Even the toughest roses may still fall victim to our Florida heat and humidity, so consider looking for a chemical control that protects your plants. A systemic product prevents disease and pests for a longer period by working from the inside of the plant.
Deadheading: Commit to regularly spending a few minutes removing old blossoms from your plants. This “deadheading” keeps new blooms maturing, and your plants focused on producing more fresh flowers. Simply use a sharp pair of pruners to remove the stems of the older flowers, and you encourage this new growth.
This is the year when your roses will be the envy of the neighbors! Care and planning, not to mention some heavy gloves for pruning, keep your roses healthy and vigorous. You will be surprised how quickly the new growth emerges, with the promise of beautiful flowers not far behind.