Everything's coming up roses, if you want
By Jayme Grzebik
Roses are a favorite of many gardeners. By following these basic recommendations — even without a green thumb — you, too, can grow roses.
Good drainage is necessary for proper root development. Dig down 18 to 24 inches for the root growth of most roses. The soil should be loosened by digging and turning it. Then add fine compost and animal manure. A good rule: add one-quarter by volume of the total soil depth. Also, after planting, place a 3-inch layer of mulch at least 2 inches away from the base of the rose plant.
If you've decided to grow your roses in containers, they must be repotted after purchasing. Repot into containers that are 6 to 8 inches larger than the original pot. Use only premixed potting media purchased from a garden center — backyard garden soil doesn't provide enough drain-age in such a confined space.
Soaker hoses, placed 3 to 6 inches from the base of the rose plant and covered with a 3-inch layer of mulch, will prevent wasteful watering and soil erosion, caused by watering more than the soil can absorb. Soaker hoses are also useful for rose plants because overhead watering can promote fungal diseases on rose leaves.
Only water when it's needed. A couple of simple tests can determine if your plant needs water. First, test to see if the water is penetrating the soil. Water using your soaker hose for 20 minutes. The next day, dig down 18 inches to see if the water penetrated to at least that depth. If the soil is moist to only the 10-inch mark, you'll need to water twice as long. Next, check to see how often to water. Using a trowel, dig a small hole 2 inches deep, feel with your fingers to determine if the soil is moist (not wet). If soil is moist, wait two to three days before watering.
Many pest and disease problems can be prevented by sticking with a consistent watering and monitoring routine. Not enough water can stress the plant, leaving it susceptible to disease and insect damage. With too much water, a plant can end up serving as a host to disease. Monitoring can help you spot pests before they cause damages too tough to treat. Identify the pest and treat your plant immediately.
Need more tips on growing the perfect rose?
Next Saturday, the University of Hawai'i's Urban Garden Center in Pearl City will host the Honolulu Rose Society and its member "Rosarians" at its Second Saturday at the Garden program. Classes, by experts, will focus on growing beautiful roses — perhaps even in time for Valentine's Day. There's open registration on arrival for the 9 a.m. rose class and for the 10:30 repeat session; the $5 fee is accepted at the door.
Hawai'i gardening experts are available to answer your gardening questions; visit www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ctahr2001/UrbanGardenCenter to find your local office.