Roses are timeless flowers and, fortunately, they grow very well in Arizona. In fact, the oldest Lady Banks Rose in the world, which was planted in 1885, can be found in Tombstone. As with all gardening successes, growing roses just requires a little knowledge.
The best time to plant roses in Pinal County is now through late January. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight a day and has fertile, well-drained soil.
Roses can be purchased as bare-root plants, packaged in plastic or in containers.
Bare-root plants must be soaked in water for 8-24 hours before planting. Dig a hole 18-30 inches wide and deep enough to accommodate the root ball. Amend native soil with compost, creating a “cone” for the root ball. Cover with soil leaving the bud union 2 inches above the soil line.
A plastic-wrapped rose also might need to be soaked depending on the medium it’s packed in.
For container roses, dig a hole only as deep as the container, but wider to allow for amended soil, keeping the plant at the same level it was in the container. Water thoroughly for the first week and fertilize frequently following the label directions.
Favorite roses for our area that are low maintenance and repeat bloomers include Mr. Lincoln, a beautiful, deep red with strong fragrance.
If you prefer a yellow variety, good choices would be Julia Child, the color of butter, chosen by Julia herself, or St. Patrick, a pale yellow that’s very heat tolerant.
For peach color, look for Marilyn Monroe or Fragrant Cloud for a coral-colored bloom.
Peace features a pale-yellow center with bright-pink edges and Rainbow Knockout has yellow centers with coral edges. Double Delight has white centers with strawberry-red edges.
Of course, for a climbing rose, Lady Banks is a great choice with yellow or white flowers.
Growing the “Queen of Flowers” is a lot of fun and cutting roses from your yard is delightful.
Wende Gehrt is a master gardener with the University of Arizona.