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Garden Journal

Fall the perfect time to plant varieties of roses

By Paul Barbano | Sep 05, 2012
Water newly planted roses every two days for the first week and at least once a week after if there is no rain.

White linen suits and Panama hats seemed to define summers of long ago.  Perhaps we associate white with leisurely summers, and the end of summer is the end of wearing summer whites.  Now that Labor Day has come and gone, white linens or not, it is the end of summer and almost fall.

With the approach of fall, gardeners think of bulbs.  But there are other things to plant this late summer or fall.  In the mild climate of Delaware, roses do well when planted in the fall or early spring.  

For months after the first frost, newly planted roses continue to grow roots and become established.  They are then fully ready to burst into new growth next spring and bloom next summer.  The only thing stopping them is winter, so with some good planning you can get your roses through the winter.

For best results, buy potted roses.  If you buy bare-root roses, choose dormant plants with no leaves or green growth.  Soak bare-root roses in lukewarm water for 12 to 24 hours.  This allows the plant to absorb enough moisture to send out roots and new leaves.

Most roses need five to six hours of sunlight, but some climbing roses, shrub roses and hedge-type Rugosa roses can grow in light shade. Roseraie de l'Hay is a fragrant purple rugosa rose that tolerates shade. Shade- tolerant climbers include bright yellow Golden Showers and the double pink deeply fragrant climber Zéphirine Drouhin.

You can use roses for hedges with varieties such as Julia Child, a bright yellow floribunda rose with a strong fragrance.

Plant roses where they get morning sunshine, because it dries off the leaves early in the day, and this helps avoid mildew and blackspot.

A word of caution on fall-planted roses - mini roses do best set out in spring, but even they can survive if you plant them in a sheltered spot out of the wind and mulch well.

Dig a large hole for each rose.  Set the soil aside and mix in compost or well-rotted manure along with a handful of bone meal to the soil.  Do not over fertilize.

Form a small mound in the base of the hole and gently spread the roots over this mound.

Keep the crown right at the soil level.  Fill the hole with two thirds of the remaining soil and soak the hole with water.  After the water soaks in, finish filling the hole.  Firm the soil and water well to remove any air pockets in the planting hole.  Mulch heavily to keep moisture in the soil and eliminate weeds.  Water your newly planted roses every two days for the first week and at least once a week after if there is no rain.

Plant roses now, mulch them and wait.  Soon enough it will be spring and time to wear white and smell the roses.

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