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What to do this week
Re-Printed By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening” on 970WFLA

ABC Pest Control Inc. FloridaIn Celebration of the Rose – America’s favorite flower keeps getting better and better.

In Celebration of the Rose – America’s favorite flower keeps getting better and better. Re-Printed by Mark Govan, host of “Florida Gardening” heard on 970WFLA

The rose is the undisputed queen of flowers. William Shakespeare loved them. (“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”) Ronald Reagan loved them so much he signed a proclamation in the White House Rose Garden making the rose the official flower of the USA.

The National Garden Bureau has named 2017 the “Year of the Rose” in honor of this flower’s unique place in gardens throughout the United States and the world. That makes this summer the perfect time to celebrate this wonderful flower and discover what’s new in the world of roses.

The Rose In History

Rose PicThe rose has a long and colorful history. Throughout the centuries, roses have been symbols of love, beauty and war. It is believed that the cultivation of roses began about 5,000 years ago in China. During the height of the Roman Empire, great rose gardens were established in the south of Rome. In the 17th century, roses were in such high demand that kings and queens considered roses legal tender for purchases.

The era of the modern rose began in 1867, when the French breeder, Guillot, introduced the first hybrid tea rose. The elegantly shaped buds soon became the standard look for a proper rose flower—a tradition that continues today with virtually every bouquet of cut roses sold.

Roses have been popular garden plants for generations, and today roses are enjoying a new upswing in popularity. In the past 20 years, rose breeders have made great strides in developing and introducing roses that are more disease resistant, more fragrant and require less maintenance.

“There’s nothing quite as beautiful as a healthy rose bush in full bloom,” said Christian Bédard, research director for Weeks Roses, America’s premier rose grower. “Modern rose bushes are both beautiful and tough in a wide range of growing conditions, so they are easier to grow than ever before.”

New Varieties of Modern Roses

When most people think of roses, what comes to mind is a hybrid tea rose. These classic blossoms are known for their long stems that make them favorite cut flowers for displaying in a vase. Hybrid tea rose bushes have a generally upright shape, and the plants reach 3-6 feet tall. Popular varieties of hybrid tea roses include Pretty Lady Rose, Mr. Lincoln, Peace, Neil Diamond and Marilyn Monroe.

Rose Pic 2New for 2017 from Weeks Roses is a new variety of hybrid tea rose called All My Loving. Developed in England by the talented breeder Gareth Fryer, All My Loving features single dark pink blossoms sitting atop traditional long cutting stems. The large, 4- to 5-inch flowers have 30-40 petals, and the color stays true until the petals naturally fall from the plant. All My Loving is a vigorous producer of summertime blooms, and this variety performs particularly well in the hot, sunny climates of Southern California and the Southwest.

Another popular type of rose bush is the floribunda. This type of rose generally blooms in clusters of smaller flowers, which makes them great landscape bushes. A blooming floribunda brings a profusion of eye-catching color to a garden, and the shorter growth habit fits nicely into most settings. Popular floribunda varieties include Iceberg, Julia Child, Ketchup & Mustard and Angel Face.

A new variety of floribunda rose called Easy To Please combines the prolific flowering of classic varieties with the increased disease resistance of modern roses. This variety, which is part of the Easy-To-Love collection from Weeks Roses, grows well in a wide range of climates and conditions. Easy To Please also has fragrant flowers that smell of cloves with hints of cinnamon.

Rose Pic 3

Climbing roses are the largest of the rose bushes. A full-size climbing rose can easily produce canes that are 10 to 12 feet tall, so these plants do well when growing on a trellis, fence or wall. Climbers will literally climb up nearly anything, so regular pruning may be required to keep them from outgrowing their allotted garden space. Some popular varieties of climbing roses include Fourth of July, Above All and Stormy Weather.

Tropical Lighting is a new-for-2017 climbing rose that features exotic-colored blooms that mix sunset orange and smoky purple—accented with cream-colored stripes. Like most of today’s improved hybrid roses, Tropical Lightning has improved disease resistance that makes it a lower-maintenance alternative to older varieties of climbing rose bushes.

Shrub roses are good choices for large landscapes or gardens. Shrub roses are identifiable by their rounded growth habit that can reach three to five feet tall and three feet wide. These rose bushes are vigorous, and they boast large clusters of blooms. Popular varieties of shrub roses include Home Run, Edith’s Darling and Children’s Hope.

Rose Pic 4

A new shrub rose variety called Watercolors Home Run does not set seeds at all, which means all of the plant’s energy goes into producing flowers. The clusters of pink flowers have bright yellow centers, and they keep coming and coming. Watercolor Home Run is very disease free and has self-cleaning petals that require no deadheading—thereby making it a virtually maintenance-free plant.

Shrub roses that have especially low-growing and wide-spreading habits are commonly called groundcover roses. Two new groundcover roses called Rainbow Happy Trails and Sunshine Happy Trails offer a delightful way to create a low-growing, spreading mass of garden color. Rainbow Happy Trails has flowers with pink outer petals and golden centers. Sunshine Happy Trails blooms with a profusion of sunny yellow flowers.

Best Growing Conditions for Roses

Rose Pic 5Rose bushes—whether new varieties or heirloom varieties that have been available for decades—grow best in full sun with moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. For the best show of flowers and the healthiest plants, rose bushes need to receive 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. In especially hot climates, roses do best when they are protected from the hot afternoon sun. In colder climates, planting a rose bush next to a south- or west-facing fence or wall can help minimize winter freeze damage.

Roses thrive best in soils that retain water without getting water-logged. In heavy clay soil, mix in compost, peat moss and other organic matter to improve drainage. Adding compost to lean, sandy soils helps to retain moisture near the plant’s roots.

To ensure a healthy rose bush, give it the equivalent of one inch of rainfall per week during the growing season. Water roses at the soil level to avoid getting the foliage wet, because wet leaves can encourage diseases such as black spot and downy mildew.

A Final Word on Roses

So what are you waiting for? Add a new rose bush to your yard during The Year of the Rose. Select a sunny spot that will allow enough room for a mature plant. If planting several rose bushes together, space them at least 3 feet apart. Dig a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the plant’s roots.

Amend the soil with a generous amount of garden compost, peat moss or other organic matter. Water thoroughly. Then mound up loose soil around the canes to protect the rose while it acclimates to its new site. For best results, plant rose bushes on a calm, cloudy day. Planting on a hot, sunny day can stress a rose bush (or any type of plant).

“You don’t need to do much to get the best new roses to grow well,” said Bédard. “Newer varieties of roses are much more vigorous and much more disease resistant than older varieties. New roses such as Watercolors Home Run and All My Loving can thrive in most climates with no spraying and a basic pruning at the beginning of the growing season.”

Top Rose Varieties by Region

Rose Pic 6Here are some of Christian Bédard’s favorite rose varieties for low-maintenance gardening. All of these varieties are recent offerings from Weeks Roses, and they were bred to be highly disease resistant. These new-generation roses need little or no care beyond watering, fertilizing and minimal pruning. These roses and other varieties grown by Weeks Roses are available at home center stores, independent garden centers and select garden catalogs and online vendors. For more information, visit

Hot and Dry Climates (Southern California and the Southwest):

Pretty Lady Rose, Neil Diamond, Doris Day, Tropical Lightning, Coretta Scott King

Cool and Wet (Pacific Northwest):

Violet’s Pride, Sparkle & Shine, Pretty Lady Rose, Oh My!

Hot and Humid (Southeast):

Watercolors Home Run, Home Run, Julia Child, Take It Easy, Easy to Please

Cold Winters (Northeast and Midwest):

Watercolors Home Run, Cape Diamond, Party Hardy, Julia Child, Children’s Hope, Easy to Please

Good luck in the garden and remember, without plants we would not be here!

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