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Don't let roses be a thorn in your side
Blake Carter
Blake Carter

By Blake Carter

County Extenstion agent

 Hello, Effingham County!

Valentine’s Day has come and gone and with it went the increased frantic need for roses and boxes of chocolates. While buying roses from your local florist is and always will be a sure fire way to make anyone smile, growing your own at home can also bring smiles anyone that visits or passes by. This article is all about that gorgeous flower and how to grow your own at home!

Roses are in thousands of Georgians’ landscapes, and I would put money on it, that they are also in many of your landscapes as well. Popular varieties of roses include the Hybrid Tea rose and the Knock-out rose. The Hybrid Tea rose is difficult to grow in Georgia, while the Knock-out rose is one of the easiest. Those are just two of more than 6,000 cultivars of roses.

I do not know about y’all, but I struggle just picking which of the three pairs of boots I have, to wear so selecting from more than 6,000 is quite overwhelming to think about. 

Luckily, roses are classified based on flower form and growth habit. These classifications include:

— Hybrid Tea roses have a strong, upright growth habit and large, single flowers on long stems. They are the best to use for cut flower arrangements 

— Floribunda roses have small to medium-size flowers that bloom profusely in clusters on medium-length stems. Some are fragrant and low-growing 

— Grandiflora roses can grow 5 to 6 feet tall. Flowers are borne in clusters on long stems. They combine the features of Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses

— Climbing roses have long, arching stems that are usually attached to supports such as arbors, trellises, fences or posts. They can also be grown on walls or as ground covers on banks. They bloom continuously during the summer and fall. Their flowers form dense clusters on long canes, which can grow 20 feet in one season

— Old roses or Heritage roses are cultivated garden roses that existed before 1876 and have not been genetically improved through selective breeding. Most are fragrant, disease-resistant and have diverse growth habit and flower form

— Shrub  roses grow about 3 feet tall and wide. They can have single or double flowers in clusters, and come in red, pink and yellow colors. Shrub roses bloom continuously through the summer and fall. They have a light tea rose fragrance and are resistant to diseases. (Knock-out Roses are classified as shrub roses)

Breaking the roses down into those categories can make your selection a lot easier.

Once the variety is selected, then comes the site selection. Roses need a solid 6-8 hours of direct sun each day. Morning sun is critical for roses. That should be taken into account when planting. 

Roses should be planted 5 -6 feet apart in February… so this is the time to do it! You can also grow roses in containers. Mulching around rose beds with fall leaves, pine straw, or pine bark is a good way to prevent soil erosion, increased drying out of the soil and weed issues. 

Water roses at least once a week during dry weather and if possible drip irrigation is recommended. Also, and I stress this all the time, soil samples are key in determining where the soil is at and what it needs for your roses to grow up happy and healthy. 

The final key portion to roses is pruning. You prune roses to help them bloom more. For Hybrid Teas, Floribundas and Grandifloras, you will want to prune those in late winter before any growth can begin. A rule of thumb is to prune weak cultivars lightly and more vigorous varieties more heavily. For climbing roses, you will want to prune those after the first flush of blooms fade.

Selected varieties below are a few cultivars that grow well in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 10 and AHS Heat Zones 5 to 12.

Hybrid Teas – Alabama (pink blend), Cayenne (orange blend), Chrysler Imperial (dark red),  Matterhorn (white)

Grandifloras - Arizona (orange blend), Love (red blend), Queen Elizabeth (pink), Scarlet Knight (red)

Floribundas – Angel Face (mauve), Apricot Nectar (apricot blend), Charisma (red blend), Bahia (orange blend), Gene Boerner (pink), Saratoga (white), Sunsprite (yellow)

Climbers – America (pink blend), Crimson Glory (dark red), Peace (yellow blend), New Dawn (light pink)

Shrubs – Meidiland Series, Care-free Wonder, Bonica, Knock-Out Series

Roses are a beautiful addition to your landscape and depending on the variety, are strong enough to last a very long time. Using this information and tips, next year you can give a special someone roses from your own garden! If you want to dive deeper into roses and/or pruning visit the links below for more information. The majority of this article is based on UGA Publication “Roses in Georgia: Selecting and Growing Techniques”, which is also listed below.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or want further information, please give me a call at or stop by the Effingham County Extension Office, (912)754-8040, 501 N. Richland Avenue, Rincon GA, 31326.