My interest in growing roses is always re-charged when I get to visit my local rose show, and whenever I attend one of these annual events I like to take another rose enthusiast with me.
Our afternoon at the show always seems to produce the same sort of questions regarding the growing of show quality blooms and the inevitable inquiry, “what’s the secret?”
Fortunately, growing roses with rose-show quality blooms is not as difficult as it might appear.
In fact, with just a few pointers and a little extra time spent in the rose bed, you could easily be the envy of your friends and neighbors, especially if you are cultivating hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras or miniatures.
So, what are the “secrets?”
1. Pick a winner in the first place.
When you look over the entries at a rose-show it seems like the same roses win on a consistent basis, so why not start by growing these winning names in the first place?
Of course the area you live will dictate the actual winners list but if you contact the nearest rose-society they will give you a list of last years and this years winners.
Make some comparisons and buy the roses that win, obviously they do best in your area and they have the pedigree you need. Find one you like and pick a winner to start with!
Your rose growing efforts should go into a bush with potential.
2. Prune low to produce quality stems.
If you are considering Tea roses these will need to be pruned very low in the spring to promote basal breaks and new canes that can be trained to be straight. The longer the straight cane of the rose the better. Straight, long stems are a must in rose shows and will make your blooms stand out as being something extra special. Prune away side shoots that will produce extra stems and watch for the ‘straight and true’.
Pay close attention to pruning when building your list of rose growing activities.
3. Finger prune carefully.
A big secret to getting the bigger show blooms is to carefully finger prune out all but the largest, center bud on each stem. This has to be done very early when the buds first develop. This allows space and nutrients for one bloom, not several. If it is done carefully with a sharp fingernail, early in the spring there will be no sign of removal. No scar will remain on the stem and the center bloom will grow larger.
Growing roses should be a ‘hands on affair’!
4. Use liquid organic fertilizer
The quickest way to get nutrients to your roses is with a liquid fertilizer, and the best solutions are mixed with organic ingredients, which are most readily absorbed by the plant.
Liquid fish meal or liquid kelp, for example, should be applied at least every two weeks during the growing season if you want to maintain strong stems and large, healthy blooms.
Roses thrive on a thorough watering on a regular basis and liquid organic fertilizer is a show bloom necessity.
5. Consider umbrellas and fridges!
In order to protect your blooms as they open, you will need to keep them safe from the elements.
Direct hot sun, wind or heavy rain will all have an effect on the color, intensity and shape of your prize rose. Petals are easily damaged and stems are easily broken.
Small umbrellas fixed to garden stakes, movable pots for placement out of the direct sun and paper cups used as “little hats” are all methods rose show enthusiasts use—anything to protect their prized possessions.
Which reminds me that if your blooms start to open up early, before you need them to, cut them, put them in water and put them in the fridge at about 65 degrees. Blooms can remain in the fridge, undamaged, for about four days, and when taken out and their stems re-cut, will look as if they were freshly cut.
I have won many ribbons at various rose shows over the years and the five pointers outlined above have been the backbone of my efforts. You don’t have to take your roses to the local rose show but if you follow the five tips above, you will be delighted with the blooms that you can grow.
Growing roses just got a little more exciting.
David LeAche is the author of Rose-Works.com where you can find out all about rose growing, photographing roses, crafts with roses and using petals, hips and rose-water. FREE monthly newsletter and FREE e-book for subscribers. Find out how this website came to be so popular by visiting About Us