By Frank Wells, Master Gardener and Certified Consulting Rosarian
Legend says, Valentine's Day originated during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. A young priest named Valentine was furious and defied Claudius by continuing to perform weddings in secret. Claudius eventually discovered this and sentenced him to death.
During his time in jail, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Before he was put to death, Valentine sent a letter to the girl and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Later, around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 a day to honor Valentine, so it is no wonder Valentine’s Day flowers are often the gift of choice.
Red roses indicate passion and romantic love; yellow signifies friendship and devotion; white symbolizes true love, purity, innocence, humility and charm; and pink shows appreciation, grace, and happiness. If you normally send roses to your special lady, why not consider buying her a living rose so she can have roses for months instead of days.
Before you begin, there are a few things you need to consider. First, you must select a planting site that gets a minimum of 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. It should be a well-drained site (roses do not like their feet in standing water). It should not be near trees or shrubs or next to a west facing cinder fence or brick wall.
If your site is well-drained, a raised bed is not necessary. However, if you have a heavy clay soil, a raised bed is better. In either case, you should amend this soil with 4-6 inches of a good plant-derived compost. When selecting roses, you should select grade 1 roses with at least 3 canes that are 12-15 inches long. Avoid roses with their canes dipped in wax. Bare root roses can be ordered by mail and should not be planted after mid-March. Potted roses can be planted any time. Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the height and diameter of the pot. After planting, cover the bed with about 4 inches of mulch. Earthkind roses (ie Knockout) grow very well in West Texas and require very little maintenance.
Roses need 2-3 inches of water per week and is best applied with a drip system. Do not water with spray. You should feed your roses with a good liquid fertilize (Miracle Grow for Roses, etc.) starting in mid-March and then about once a month. You need to remove the spent blooms so that new buds will form (in 45 days). I use an Orthene based spray to control most pests.
Growing roses will provide endless delight to gardeners. More information is available at the AgriLife Office, 432-498-4071 or 432-686-4700.