By Jane Gray
Landscape Director & Earthkind Specialist
Fort Bend County Master Gardeners
February is the month for celebrating presidents’ birthdays, groundhogs weather predicting abilities, love, and roses.
A visitor to the Ft. Bend County Master Gardener demonstration gardens will observe roses in the cottage garden, around the vegetable garden, in the Earthkind garden, and around the Outdoor classroom gazebo. The garden that best demonstrates the type of roses that do well in Ft. Bend County is the rose garden in front of the Bud O’Shieles Community Center.
The one characteristic all these roses have in common is that they are grown on their own root (not grafted). This criteria, along with plant selection, provides us with hardy, disease resistant, low care roses that require less water, no pesticides, and very little fertilizer.
These roses may be old garden roses, members of the Earthkind series, or from breeders such as Dr. Griffith Buck, David Austin, or Kordes. They are often fragrant, supply an abundance of blooms, come in a variety of sizes and growth habits, and offer many colors.
In order to have an abundance of blooms roses require full sun (6 to 8 hours per day) to provide good growth.
In February, we pay special attention to roses, not only to give on St. Valentine’s Day, but also because this is the time that they get their major pruning to insure wonderful blooms the rest of the year.
Here are some major points about pruning of roses:
- Be sure to sharpen and sterilize pruners to deter the spread of disease.
- Remove dead canes, those that grow toward the center of the plant, and those that rub against another cane.
- Open the center of the plant to improve air circulation.
- Cut back and shape the plant. You may choose to cut back one-third of the plant or give it a more ruthless trimming down to 18 to 24 inches from the ground.
- Clean out any debris around the plant and add mulch, leaving space around the base.