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The Promise of a Rose Garden

A hand holding a blooming rose still attached to the bush. Play Video

Spring is upon us, including that special day when many dutiful children young and old buy roses in thanks for the women who raised and nurtured them.

From Mother’s Day to graduation day, or just about any day in between, roses seldom disappoint. Mom or that special someone would certainly appreciate a fresh bouquet bought directly from one of our state’s many cut flower growers.

North Carolina has a robust flower industry, ranking near the top of the nation for ornamental plant production thanks in large part to support from NC State Extension.

Or why not surprise them with a vase full of roses from your own backyard? The prospect of growing flowers can seem daunting, but with some planning and knowledge even novice gardeners can produce beautiful blossoms.

In this edition of Homegrown, Chance Woodrum, former landscape architect and technician at N.C. Cooperative Extension’s New Hanover County Arboretum, dispenses expert advice on how to grow roses in North Carolina.

Coming Up Roses

The diminutive Carolina rose, Virginia rose and swamp rose are the only roses native to this part of the world, but many other types do well in North Carolina, adding color and aesthetics to managed landscapes.

The six most common types of roses in the state are floribunda, grandiflora, hybrid tea, miniature, shrub and climbing.

The popular plants grow in a variety of sizes and colors, but there are many commonalities gardeners need to know when planning a rose garden. Among Woodrum’s top tips are:

  • Plant in early spring or late fall
  • Plant in open areas — they need a lot of sunshine
  • Water if it hasn’t rained in awhile
  • Use mulch for water retention and to prevent weeds
  • Shrub roses are ideal for beginners
  • Prune in February and March
  • Know the 4 Ds of pruning: Remove tissue that is Dead, Dying, Diseased or Damaged
Discover more about the biology of beloved roses, and what makes these seasonal delights so special.

As with all backyard plants, soil condition is important. Roses prefer well-drained soil and slightly acidic conditions. Not sure about the soil where you live? Take a sample to an NC State Extension Master Gardener volunteer at your local Extension center for testing and advice.

Once they are established, a carefully tended rose bush is the gift that keeps on giving. The beautiful, fragrant flowers begin to emerge in April and May, and continue to bloom until the first frost.