How to Choose Roses

Choosing roses can be easier than you think. You need to decide three things: Which types of roses you like, where they will grow, and how much time you want to devote to them. Then the fun begins!


‘Carefree Beauty’ Fragrant Rose

Select roses for their color, fragrance, and use
Questions to ask yourself include: What colors do you like, do your roses have to have a fragrance, and what you will use the roses for? Rose colors include white, pink, purple, red, orange, and yellow. Many start out dark and fade to lighter shades, some have colored stripes, and others are a mixture of colors. There are roses that have strong scents and others with no scent at all. Do you want roses for color in the garden, to grow on a structure, to cut for indoor arrangements, or for fragrance?


‘Pinkie’ Climbing Polyantha Rose

Know the growing and care requirements
Start by knowing your frost hardiness zone and sun requirements. Much of Buncombe County is classified USDA Zone 7 for frost hardiness. Most roses require 6 to 8 hours of sun, although some are more shade tolerant. How much space do you have? Some roses require large areas to grow, while others take up only a little space. Some roses will grow in containers.


‘Belinda’ Hybrid Musk Rose

Decide how much time you have to care for your roses. Roses need an inch of water a week and as much as twice that in hotter months. They are heavy feeders, so perform best when fertilized during the growing season. Many suffer from pests and funguses, although some roses were developed to be disease resistant and need little spraying.

 Information sources
Places to learn about roses include books, websites, rose societies, and the Cooperative Extension service, along with many reputable growers who offer information about the roses they sell. The American Rose Society has an easy-to-navigate website that offers answers to your rose queries at The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society website is The Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers can also answer questions about types of roses, suggest good varieties for our area, and offer planting and care instructions.

Article written by Donna Sapp, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

Saturday Seminar: Tour a Pollinator Garden, July 9

Saturday Seminar: Tour a Pollinator Garden 

Bees as vegetarians must collect large amounts of protein-rich pollen most of which is fed to the young. They are exquisitely designed pollen collectors with their copious branched hairs and collection devices on legs or abdomen.

Saturday, July 9, 2016
9 –11 a.m.

Southern Research Station
200 W. T. Weaver Boulevard
Asheville, NC

This family friendly program will tour a Master Gardener-designed pollinator garden at the Southern Research Station across from The Botanical Gardens at Asheville. Participants will see insect hotels and learn to make mason bee houses. There will also be a visit to a beekeeper’s home and garden (within walking distance). Rain or shine, dress for the outdoors.

The seminar is free but space is limited to 20 people. Make reservations by calling 828-255-5522.

New Disease-Resistant Garden Roses Growing in Popularity

While European gardeners planted roses in beds with other plants and expected them to thrive without special attention, serious American rose gardeners focused on producing a few perfect flowers each season so they could win competitions. Fragrances, hardiness, and resistance to diseases such as black spot—a common fungal infection of roses—were cast aside for bigger, better-formed blooms. 


‘Tiffany’ Disease-Resistant Hybrid Tea Rose

From disfavor to rose revolution
By the 1990s, American gardeners were no longer willing to take on these divas! For many of us, gardens were smaller and schedules busier. We had discovered organic gardening and pollinators and did not want to use toxic sprays. 

Then in the 1990s, David Austin roses reached the U.S. market, reintroducing easier-care garden roses with fragrance. In 2000, Knock Out® roses took the industry by storm. Their even easier care, long bloom season, and black-spot resistance appealed to yet more gardeners. Other rose hybridizers saw the huge market for disease-resistant roses, and began to create their own. Developing a new rose takes about ten years and a bit of luck. We are just now beginning to reap the benefits of the hybridizers’ efforts.


‘Mother of Pearl’ Disease-Resistant Grandiflora Rose

Newer hybrids meet no-spray standard
American rose distributors have begun importing disease-resistant roses from Europe where there have been no-spray rose trials for years—many pesticides are banned in Europe. No-spray trials are now happening in the United States. ‘Sunshine Daydream’, a yellow grandiflora, was the first rose to win the All-America Rose Selection rose of the year under no-spray conditions. ‘Francis Meilland’, ‘Beverly’, and ‘Savannah’—all fragrant hybrid teas—have won awards in the Biltmore (no-spray) International Rose Trials here in Asheville.

Learn more
To learn more about roses, contact your local rose society. The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society serves Western North Carolina. Visit their website at or contact them by email at

The Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ “Gardening in the Mountains” lecture series will present a talk on rose care and disease resistant roses at the County Extension office, 49 Mt. Carmel Rd., on Thursday, July 21, 11:30 to 1. Call 828-255-5522 to reserve a seat. 

Article written by Judy Deutsch, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

Getting Started with Climbing Roses

Roses_Climbing_CoversCottageThere is nothing more romantic than living in a rose-covered cottage or walking under an arbor or pergola covered in fragrant roses. Climbing roses can add a colorful vertical accent to almost any garden.

Support structures
Climbing roses need a sturdy structure—an arbor, pillar, pergola, or lattice—on which to grow. Make sure your structure can support the weight of your climber. Although some climbers stop growing at 10 or 12 feet, others can reach 30 feet or more in height. Unlike beans or peas, roses will not voluntarily climb a structure, so it is up to you to get them onto the structure. Roses_Climbing_TwoVarietiesShareArborIt is remarkably frustrating to have a beautiful arbor but a rose happily growing in exactly the wrong direction!

Site your rose carefully. Like all roses, climbing roses want full sun. Once trained on a structure, your rose will not be as easily moved as a non-climbing rose that you can simply dig up and relocate.

Plant your rose 12 inches or more from the structure, not right up against it. Note that if you are planting up against a house or shed, overhanging eaves may reduce the amount of rain water that hits the ground and you will need supplemental water.


Climbing rose leader canes with lateral growth trained on fence.

Leaders vs. laterals
Climbing roses have two types of canes—leaders and laterals. Leaders are the long canes that come out of the ground and are usually the ones you attach to your structure. Lateral canes come off of lead canes and produce flowers.

Training the rose
The more parallel to the ground your lead canes, the more laterals they will produce, and the more blooms you will have. A climber growing straight up an arbor will only have blooms at the top. Therefore, you want to train the lead canes to grow parallel to the ground on a supporting structure. It is much easier to train a climber on an arbor, pergola, or lattice structure than on a column or pillar.  If you want to wrap your climber around a pole, wrap the lead canes as parallel to the ground as possible.

Young canes are the most supple and amenable to bending or shaping. Plan on tying up your climber several times during the growing season so you can work with new growth. Twine and string are good choices for tying canes. They are softer than wire, which can cut or damage the canes.

Continuing care and pruning
The care of climbing roses is similar to that of their non-climbing brethren. They need the same fertilizing and watering regimen. They are susceptible to the same diseases. However, pruning climbing roses is different. Remove dead, damaged, or diseased canes, but let the healthy lead canes grow long to suit both your taste and your structure. You should also prune back the laterals to keep them in check and to promote re-blooming.

Learn more
To learn more about pruning climbing roses, contact your local rose society. The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society serves Western North Carolina. Visit their website at or contact them by email at .

The Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers’ “Gardening in the Mountains” lecture series will present a talk on rose care and disease resistant roses at the County Extension office, 49 Mt. Carmel Rd., on Thursday, July 21, 11:30 to 1. Call 828-255-5522 to reserve a seat.

Article written by Judy Deutsch, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

Kids Post: Growing Potatoes in Buckets

Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt? Growing potatoes in buckets is the perfect gardening treasure hunt activity both to have fun and encourage kids to love growing their own food. Kids of all ages can participate. June is the end of the potato-planting season in Western North Carolina, so it is a good time to find seed potatoes on sale. Follow this guide to grow your pot of gold (or golden potatoes!).

What you’ll need

  • Seed potatoes. Small potato varieties are best for this project.
  • 5-gallon, food-safe bucket with drainage holes. Recycle bulk food containers or purchase new buckets. Be sure to drill several holes in the bottom before you start your garden.
  • Enough potting soil to fill your bucket—about a half cubic foot. Use potting soil for edible plants—NOT garden soil or potting soils with additives such as moisture-holding crystals.
  • Vegetable fertilizer.

Steps for making your bucket garden

  1. Add 4 inches or so of potting soil to the bucket.
  2. Mix in fertilizer. Read the fertilizer label and add only enough for the amount of soil you’ve just put in the bucket
  3. Space your seed potatoes evenly on top of the soil with the sprout side up.Potatoes_PlantingInBucket
  4. Add another 4 inches or so of potting soil and mix in more fertilizer.
  5. Place your potato garden where it will get full sun for at least 6 hours a day.
  6. Wet the soil until you see water draining out of the bucket. Keep soil moist, but not soggy. You may need to water every day if it doesn’t rain!
  7. Green shoots will grow up. Once the shoots are about 4 inches high, carefully add 2 inches of soil with more fertilizer. Leave just a small green shoot above the soil. Keep adding soil and fertilizer every time the shoots grow up a few inches. Keep the soil watered evenly throughout the growing season.ColoradoPotatoBeetle-larvae
  8. Watch out for pirates! Look for pests eating your potato leaves. The usual suspects are potato beetle larvae and adults. (Even though bugs may like potato plants, the leaves, flowers, seedpods, sprouts and any green flesh are toxic to people.)
  9. Once the plant has grown out of the top of the bucket, flowered, and begun to die back, it is time to harvest! Spread a tarp and spill out the contents of the bucket. Here is the treasure hunt! Dig through the soil to find the potatoes.
  10. Enjoy your harvest! An easy way to cook small potatoes is to toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or so, depending on size.

    Photograph by Dobies Seed Company, Devon, UK

    Photograph by Dobies Seed Company, Devon, UK

Article written by Tish Szurek, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

For more about potato beetles, go to

Fragrant Roses Are a Must in My Garden

When I see a blossom, my first response is to smell it. If it has no scent, it diminishes my experience with that flower. Roses are no exception. They are a “must have” in my garden, along with perennials and annuals. After working in my rose garden the first blooming year and smelling its wonderfully sweet scent, I decided that only plants with a heavenly rose scent could be a part of my rose gardening.


Dolly Parton Hybrid Tea

Where do roses get their fragrance?
Bob Hatterschide, in a classic article for the American Rose Society, notes that roses get their scent from essential oils exuded from glands on the lower petal surfaces. These oils include Rhodianol, the essential oil that has the smell described as “old rose;” Geraniol, the scent of geranium foliage; Nerol, a magnolia-like scent; and, Eugenol, a spicy fragrance sometimes described as the scent of oil of cloves.


Cecil Brunner Climbing Rose

Describing rose scents
Of course each person experiences scents differently, so it is difficult, if not impossible, to use scent in judging roses.  Scents have little to do with whether a rose wins a class or not. Hatterschide describes the many types of rose scents. These include flower scents, such as rose or damask, clover, hyacinth, honeysuckle, nasturtium, and violet; fruit scents such as apple, lemon, and raspberry; spicy scents, such as bay, cloves, orris, and pepper; and other scents such as musk.

Factors that affect fragrance
Lois Ann Helgeson, in another American Rose Society report, discusses the connections between fragrances and rose classes and notes that scents in roses vary by temperature, humidity, and the amount of sunshine. Even the degree to which the blossom is open limits or enhances the fragrance. Rose fragrances also vary by color.


Melody Parfumee Grandiflora Rose

Individual differences
Not all roses are fragrant. Hatterschide and Helgeson note that James Alexander Gamble concluded that about 25 percent of roses have little or no scent, 20 percent were highly fragrant, and the remainder fall somewhere in between. The American Rose Society award for outstanding new fragrant roses is appropriately named for Gamble. The award list is a great starting point for anyone interested in especially fragrant roses.

Personal favorites
Some of my favorites are ‘Cecile Brunner’, a dainty pink climber; ‘Dolly Parton’, a hybrid tea that is orange, large, and over-the-top fragrant; ‘Mr. Lincoln’, a dark red hybrid tea that grows tall and smells like heaven; and, ‘Fire Fighter’, another red upright hybrid tea. Just remember, next time you think about the perfect flower for your sunny garden, try the wonderful reward of a fragrant rose.

To learn more about the James Alexander Gamble Fragrance Award visit . 

Article written by Donna Sapp, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

Ten Tips for Growing Roses in Western North Carolina

Grow beautiful roses in your garden by following these helpful tips originally published by the Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society.

1. Roses are not hard to grow
Many roses, both old and new, are disease resistant and easy to care for. There are many different kinds of roses with diverse sizes, shapes, and colors. Many are fragrant. All are beautiful and work well in combination with other plants.

2. Roses like full sun—at least six hours a day
If you do not have six hours of sun, there are roses like Hybrid Musks that are reportedly more shade tolerant. But for fewer problems and better blooms, grow your roses where they will get lots of sun. Roses particularly like morning sun which helps dry dew off their leaves which, in turn, may lower the risk of black spot. Diplocarpon rosea, the fungus which causes black spot, requires three or four hours of contact on wet leaves to infect.

3. Roses like a rich, well-drained soil
Work lots of organic material (compost) into your soil along with soil conditioner. If you have doubts about drainage, dig a hole large enough to plant your rose, fill it with water, and see how quickly it drains. If the hole has not emptied in an hour, you need to improve drainage or your roses will not prosper. Roses like to drink but do not like wet feet.

4. Planting roses
When planting container grown roses, dig a hole at least half again as wide as the container and ideally twice as wide. Plant the rose to the depth it is in the container. If it is a bare root rose (not in a container) with a graft site (many hybrid teas are grafted), dig a hole deep enough to have the graft at or just below the soil line and wide enough to accommodate the spread-out roots. You will need a mound of soil in the middle of the hole for the rose to sit on. Soak bare root roses overnight before planting. You can trim damaged or extremely long roots before planting. Resist the temptation to fertilize at the time of planting, although you may want to add a phosphate-rich material like bone meal to promote root growth. Remember to water and mulch your roses after planting and keep them watered during the first growing season.

5. Roses like to eat
Many roses bloom continuously from May until frost. To do this, they need lots of nutrients. You can buy rose specific fertilizers but any good quality, well-balanced fertilizer will do. Fertilize according to directions in the spring and at least once during the summer. Do not feed your roses after mid- to late August. You want your roses to become dormant for the winter and feeding will promote growth. Remember to water after fertilizing. Roses require water to absorb nutrients.

6. Roses like to drink
Roses want one to two inches of water a week when it’s hot. They prefer not having their leaves get wet when they are watered, although you can give them a “bath” early in the day if the weather has been very hot and dry. This cleans the leaves and washes away pests. Soaker hoses are a practical and efficient way to water roses. Mulching will help with moisture retention.

7. Disease control
Roses are prone to the same pests as other flowering shrubs and also to black spot. Many rose growers look for disease resistant varieties which are increasingly plentiful. Since certain roses do well in certain regions, contact your local rose society to learn which roses thrive in your area. Good garden hygiene and healthy roses will help prevent problems. Buy good stock and clean up dead or fallen leaves and debris. Some growers use only organic products or chose not to spray at all. If you choose to spray, spray on a cool cloudy day to prevent leaf damage and follow directions carefully. It is a good idea to spray dormant roses and surrounding soil with lime sulfur during the winter. This will help eradicate fungal spores and prevent black spot during the growing season.

8. Pruning roses
Much has been written about pruning roses. Basically you want to keep your roses at a size where they bloom freely and fit into your garden. However, you need to cut out dead, diseased, or damaged canes in early spring and whenever else they occur. Pruning to open the center of the rose bush allows for better air circulation within the rose and helps prevent black spot. Climbing roses require special pruning. Contact your local rose society for help in managing these.

9. Wintering roses
Trim your roses back to about three feet if they are very tall or sprawling to prevent wind damage. Make sure climbing roses are securely attached to their arbor or pillar. Mulch well. If you have roses with grafts, make sure the graft is well covered with soil and mulch.

10. Learn more Roses_EMGJimSleevaGarden_2012_cropped
The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society is available to help you learn more about choosing and caring for roses. Visit their web site at or email for more information. The Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers are also a good information resource and will have a program on new garden roses at the County Extension Office, 49 Mount Carmel Road, Asheville, on July 21, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Article provided by Judy Deutsch, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, with permission of the Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society.

Attention Gardeners and Campers! Emerald Ash Borer a Threat to NC Trees!

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture implemented a statewide emerald ash borer (EAB) quarantine effective September 2015. The quarantine prohibits moving pieces of hardwood shorter than four feet out of state into non-quarantined areas. The restriction only applies to hardwoods—deciduous trees—because the EAB does not attack conifers—needle-bearing evergreens. The “less than four feet” restriction eliminates lumber, which is unlikely to carry live EAB eggs or larvae after the milled wood is kiln dried. But it does apply to firewood, removed trees, and tree debris.

Image of emerald ash borer adult by David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

Image of emerald ash borer adult by David Cappaert, Michigan State University,

How the EAB quarantine affects gardeners and campers
The emerald ash borer is an Asian wood-boring beetle that accidentally arrived in North America, first showing up in Michigan and Ontario in 2002. It’s been gradually expanding its territory and by 2013 arrived in North Carolina. Although the beetles can fly from tree to tree, the movement of firewood is the leading accomplice in moving the EAB larvae from place to place. To reduce the risk of infesting our trees, the message to us on the EAB is “Don’t move firewood around. Burn it where it grew.”

Fringe trees are at greatest risk
Four ash species are native to North Carolina, but most are found in the eastern part of the state. Green (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), white (Fraxinus Americana), Carolina (Fraxinus caroliniana), and pumpkin (Fraxinus profunda) ashes are occasionally found here in the mountains, but the greatest threat from the EAB is to the American fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus), a close relative.

Tiny holes in tree bark are signs of emerald ash borer larvae.

Tiny holes in tree bark are signs of emerald ash borer larvae infestation.

Signs of EAB infestation
Unfortunately, an EAB attack is very difficult to identify. Eggs are laid on the bark and the larvae make a small, 1/8-inch, D-shaped entry hole that is hard to see on the rough bark. By the time the adults emerge, the damage is done. Dieback starts in the upper branches and death of the tree typically occurs after two or three years.

What you can do
Although there is systemic insecticide available, our best hope is to slow the advance of the EAB to allow development of an effective protective measure. Gardeners should watch fringe trees and ashes for signs of infestation. Avoid planting these trees in your landscape until more is understood about the EAB threat.

Campers and picnickers, don’t bring firewood home!
Burn that wood where it grew.

Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.

For help identifying ash and fringe trees, visit these websites:

You Can Successfully Grow Roses

During the month of June, our blogs will focus on growing roses. Master Gardeners Judy Deutsch and Donna Sapp will share their love of roses and their tips for success. Follow their blogs and learn about climbing roses, fragrant roses, and new disease-resistant roses, as well as how to select and care for roses.

Pink Rose

Shortly after I moved to North Carolina, I decided to plant a few roses in memory of my mother. I remembered my mother’s small rose garden, set off to the side of our house in the sun, and how bouquets, picked from this garden, would fill our house with fragrance. I was a novice gardener and knew nothing about growing roses. 

My first rose garden
I had only heard of one company that sold roses, so I looked them up online. Surprise! They had a fragrant rose collection of four different roses; and, for a few extra dollars, they would add some lavender. bareroot-rose-groundOf course, I bought the collection plus the lavender. Soon a large box came with four bare root roses. I could hardly figure out what end to put in the ground but followed directions and hoped for the best. 

In about ten weeks, I had roses and was I ever amazed! I don’t know what I expected, but certainly not to have roses so soon after I inexpertly planted them. I actually wrote the company a fan letter telling them how pleased and excited I was. 

More roses
Of course, I began to add more and more roses to my garden. As I expanded my knowledge and became known for growing roses, many people would share similar memories with me. We think of roses as delicate and fussy plants, but my experience taught me that given the proper site (full sun), well-prepared soil, a little fertilizer, and water, even a novice gardener can successfully grow roses. 

Few other perennials bring as many blooms to our gardens. Roses come in all colors except blue, and modern roses will bloom repeatedly throughout the growing season. Here in Western North Carolina, we can expect roses to bloom from late spring (end of April or early May) until frost. You might even have roses for your Thanksgiving table! So have courage—add a rose or two in your flowerbeds and enjoy them. 

Article written by Judy Deutsch, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer. 

For more information about the different types of roses, visit .

Lecture: Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Growing Vegetables, June 16

Gardening in the Mountains Lecture Series presents:
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Growing VegetablesTomato with Lady Beetle

Thursday, June 16, 2016
11:30 a.m.—1 p.m., and
2 p.m.—3:30 p.m

NC Cooperative Extension
Buncombe County Center
49 Mount Carmel Road
Asheville, NC

Presenter: Craig Mauney, Extension Area Agent, Commercial Vegetables

The presentation focuses on environmentally and economically sensible ways to protect crops from insects, plant diseases, weeds, and vertebrate pests. Participants will learn how to implement IPM using sustainable methods that help keep health and environmental risks as low as possible.

Two sessions are offered to accommodate the large crowd expected for this popular and timely topic.

The talk is free but pre-registration is requested. Please let us know which session you plan to attend—either the 11:30 a.m. or the 2 p.m. session—by calling 828-255-5522.