The most popular flower in the world can grow beautifully in northern New Mexico—just choose the right type for your location and follow simple guidelines for keeping them healthy.
First choose the right type of rose for a specific location and purpose (i.e. to grow up a trellis or to cut stems for floral arrangements), then pick the colors and fragrance (from light to strong).
Start by selecting from the 5 basic types of roses:
1) Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras. These are taller (4’ to 6’ tall) plants that bear large, usually single stemmed flowers. They are the best roses to grow to use as cut flowers.
2) Miniatures are naturally dwarf Hybrid Teas from 1'-4' tall.
3) Floribundas are generally smaller (2’ to 4’ tall) plants that bear smaller flowers in large, showy clusters. They are usually not the best choice for cut flowers, but they make excellent long-blooming landscape shrubs.
4) Climbing Roses produce long canes that are trained to grow along fences or trellises.
5) Shrub Roses are best used as landscape shrubs or hedges and usually don’t require much, if any, of the typical rose care and pruning.
(1) Dig a hole twice as wide and only as deep as the rootball of the rose. Adjust the depth of the hole so that the top of the graft is a few inches above the top of the ground. 2-3" of the stem should be visible so you can add a layer of mulch to the soil surface. (The graft is a swollen knob where the green branches sprout from.)
(2) Remove the container from your rose's rootball. It is very important to make sure the rootball stays intact and soil does not break away from the roots. If this happens, many of the tiny root hairs will be torn off and will result in stressing the plant. This can even kill the plant, so be very careful. We recommend allowing the soil to dry out before removing it from the container. Dry soil has a tendency to hold together better than wet or moist soil. Remove plastic pot by turning the plant upside down and, with the palm of your hand supporting the soil, tap the edge of the container on the edge of a table or other firm surface. Alternatively, lay the pot on its side and gently tapping on it until the rootball can be gently slid out of the container.
(3) Place the plant in the hole and refill halfway around its rootball with a blended mixture of 1/2 Payne's Soil Conditioner and 1/2 of the native soil. Then place the hose with running water into the hole and as the water level raises add more soil until the soil is at the appropriate level. The use of a root stimulator at planting time will greatly reduce transplant shock and encourage the plants to resume their normal growing habits more quickly.
(4) Build a watering basin around the plant with the remaining soil. The sides should be high enough to hold 3” to 4” of water. Make the basin at least as wide as the hole that was dug. Place mulch in the basin, 2” to 3” deep, using Payne's Soil Conditioner.
Roses should be pruned in early spring just as the buds swell. All dead or winter-damaged canes should be removed as well as crossing or competing canes. The goal is to shape the plant into an upside-down cone with no or very few branches in the middle. Cut back remaining canes to about 24” tall, cutting immediately above an outward facing bud. Be sure to use a well-sharpened cutting tool. It's also a good idea to spray the cutting end with alcohol, or dip the end into alcohol, to disinfect the blades between cuts.
It is impossible to give a watering schedule that will be right for every rose all of the time. Factors including soil type, root ball and plant size, air temperature, humidity, wind and light intensity all affect how often a particular plant needs watering.
The basic rule of thumb is to water deeply, but infrequently. Roses are surprisingly xeric once they are established! The water should penetrate the soil to 12-18” deep at each watering. This will encourage your rosebush to develop a deep, drought tolerant root system. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings. It is common for people to kill or unnecessarily stress their plants by watering too much. Why can overwatering hurt a rosebush? Because the roots of a plant require oxygen in order to function. If the soil is constantly waterlogged, there will not be enough oxygen available to the root system and the roots will suffocate and die.
To determine whether the soil around a rose's roots is dry enough to warrant watering, remove a handful of soil from 3 or 4 inches down and squeeze it. If it holds its shape, then the soil is still wet—if it falls apart, then it is time to water again. After using this trick several times you will learn the plant’s watering schedule. Don't assume what works for one rosebush will work for the others—every rose is a bit different, as is the composition of the soil in which it has been planted.
For plants that will be watered by drip or bubbler systems, water as described above at planting time. Most of the plant’s needs can now be met with the watering system’s schedule. However, a deep soaking every month or so is recommended for optimum nurturing. In addition, during the winter months, we recommend a deep monthly soaking.
Begin fertilizing as soon as obvious signs of growth appear. Use a granular or liquid fertilizer. Roses enjoy regular feedings and need nutrients monthly during the growing season. A fertilizer that is high in phosphate (the middle number on the fertilizer label) is recommended. Some rose fertilizers even come with systemic insecticides that help keep roses free of pests. We recommend maintaining a mulch around the plantings at all times, 2” to 3” thick, using organic compost. Roses also appreciate 1 to 3 applications a year of mineral supplements, such as copperas, soil sulfur or soil acidifier. These not only help to keep the plants properly fed, but they also can help keep the soil around the rosebush loosened and its acidity (pH) within tolerable ranges.
Pests & Diseases
Disease and insect problems should be dealt with as soon as they appear. Because of the variety of possible problems, proper diagnosis is very important. Bring in an affected plant sample to either Payne's Nurseries store so we can diagnose the problem and prescribe the best treatment available. An application of a dormant spray in the late winter or early spring can help prevent many insect and disease problems in the coming growing season, as can good sanitation in the landscape (removing infected plant parts and raking up fallen leaves and weed debris).
Note: The above guidelines are also applicable to cane fruits, such as raspberries and blackberries, which are close relatives of roses.