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Ten Commandments for Growing Roses

by Ted W. Mills, Consulting Rosarian and Judge

            Keeping the biblical Ten Commandments ensures a good and rewarding life.  Just as these rules speak to human behavior, growing roses successfully relies heavily on adhering to its own ten rules.  These are:

I.                    Thou shalt have a sincere interest in roses.  Developing an abiding love for this flower is mandatory.

II.                 Thou shalt choose good plants.  Choose only Grade 1 plants with at least three strong, lively canes.  Avoid weak or paraffin coated plants.

III.               Thou shalt choose a location that affords at least six hours of sunlight and good drainage.

IV.              Thou shalt provide a good start for the plant by using a nutritious soil mix.  Basic need is 1/3 fertil soil, 1/3 creek sand and 1/3 organic material.  Secure a soil test to determine the status of the soil as to pH factor and availability of nutrients.

V.                 Thou shalt fertilize.  Since roses are heavy feeders, it is of paramount importance that frequent fertilizing is in the schedule.  Organic and chemical fertilization provide the ideal recipe for feeding.  Two nationally accepted products that provide a complete diet for roses are Mills Magic Rose Mix (organic and Mills Easy Feed (chemical/organic) combo.  Feed Mills Magic Rose Mix every tow months and Mills Easy Feed every two weeks.

VI.              Thou shalt spray weekly.  Guard against fungus diseases by applying chemicals that help to prevent the introduction of harmful spores.  Adding insecticides to the spray program is recommended when insects appear.  Consistency of application is the key to effective disease and insect control.  Thou shalt use extreme care when applying toxic chemicals.

VII.            Thou shalt prune.  Rose bushes need pruning to promote optimum new growth.  Commence major pruning as soon as winter dormancy ceases and the bush wakes up to spring.  Minor pruning of weak and dead growth during the growing season enables the bush to remain clean and vigorous.

VIII.         Thou shalt deadhead.  Since rosebushes are actually fruit trees, the plant is constantly attempting to go to fruit.  Interrupting the cycle on roses is called deadheading.  Cutting faded blooms on a timely basis provides another cycle of blossoms as the plant tries again to go to fruit.

IX.              Thou shalt winterize.  In areas where the temperature falls to freezing it is very important to protect the bud union from the harmful cold winter.  Simple mounding the soil or ground bark over the plants base will be sufficient in our area.

X.                 Thou shalt water.  Watering is the most important phase of the rose growing and the most overlooked.  Roses simply cannot survive without ample moisture.  Applying water around the base of the plant is preferable as long as it is deep enough to contact the root system.  Nothing in rose culture is more important to good growth than water.


Share your roses with friends, especially shut-ins.  It will enhance your joy of growing them.