Plant bare root roses from January to mid-February.

By Betty Beeman

Betty Beeman
Betty Beeman

Roses have been symbols of love, beauty, war and politics. And according to fossil evidence, they are 35 million years old. There are at least 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

According to the Guinness World Records, the largest and oldest living rosebush, covering 9,000 square feet is located in Tombstone, Arizona. The White Lady Banks Rose reportedly was gifted and planted in 1885 by a husband for his new bride.

Growing roses in Arizona can be challenging because of the triple-digit heat and little rain for long periods of time, but it can be done. There are a number of successful rose gardens around the area, including Mesa Community College Rose Garden. Google “rose gardens” for the endless varieties that can be grown here.

1. Purchase only grade 1 roses because these have the best chance to become established and survive our summer heat. Roses can take the heat; it’s the intense sunlight that stresses them most. Also do not buy roses that have been dipped in wax or those that have started to leaf out.

2. Plant bare root roses from January to mid-February.

3. Make sure each bush has three strong healthy canes. Reject those with fewer canes or roots that are spindly.

4. Prune to 8-12 inches, preferable to outside bud. Seal cuts with wood glue to prevent rose borers from getting into canes.

5. Using a 32-gallon trashcan filled with water and a tablespoon of B1 or a few drops of Super Thrive, soak entire bush for 24 to 48 hours. You can get several bushes in the trashcan at the same time.

6. Dig a hole 18-24 inches wide. Width is crucial for good feeder root development. Scratch in ½ to 1 cup of Disper-sul or Tiger Brand Soil Sulfur in the bottom of the hole. Then add ½-cup of Triple Super Phosphate (0-45-0) as a clump.

7. Mix a large wheelbarrow of about 30 percent forest mulch or compost, 50 percent original soil and 20 percent perlite; this will help keep soil from compacting. Place two shovels of this mix in hole over amendments and form a mound.

8. Trim off ¼-inch of all root tips to stimulate growth and remove any damaged roots. Place rose on mound, draping roots comfortably over cone. Bud union should be just above surface when hole is filled. Firm soil around roots and then fill up hole with soil mix.

9. Saturate with water to eliminate any air pockets. Water every other day for 10-14 days, then once a week, for spring watering. [quote_box_right]GARDENING TIPS – WINTER PLANTS
Plant beets, bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, green onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips
Water cactus every 4-5 weeks if no rain.
Don’t let winter weeds get ahead of you. Seek and destroy.[/quote_box_right]

It is almost impossible to overwater roses if they have proper drainage. Roses need to grow down deeply, because roots near the surface are exposed to high desert heat and will dry out. Deep watering will also keep salts from accumulating in the root zone causing brown leaf tips. When temps are over 90 degrees, water two or three times a week if you flood irrigate; 4-5 times a week if you drip irrigate. Each drip irrigation should provide a minimum of four gallons per bush.

Roses are heavy feeders and need fertilization to perform their best. Apply every four weeks through May. Then cut back to half strength or stop fertilizing until September to give plants a rest in the hottest months.

Be on the lookout for aphids, thrips and spider mites. Use appropriate repellant. Read label and following directions.

Questions: Contact a Master Gardener volunteer

This column appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.