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!
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?
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.
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.
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 www.rose.org. The Asheville Blue Ridge Rose Society website is www.ashevillerosesociety.org. 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.