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How-To

Buy the Best Roses

Editor Steve Aitken shows you what to look for when shopping for these classics at your local nursery

Josh Therriault, produced by Antonio Reis

Roses are some of the most delicate and beautiful blooms any gardener can have in their special space. However, there are so many different varieties, that choosing what to buy at your local nursery can be extremely daunting. Do you pick the plant with the most blooms? The most fragrant plant? The largest one? To see a beautiful example of a garden designed with roses as the focus, read this article by Paul Zimmerman.

Back when I lived in Los Angeles and ran a rose garden care company, I did some designing of what I called “gardens grown around roses”. I always found it to be fun and enjoyed challenging myself to find interesting new ways to incorporate roses into a landscape. When I moved to South Carolina and started my former rose nursery I stopped due to time constraints. Recently I was approached to help with a garden from scratch because the homeowners love roses. This project is just underway but I’m going to blog about it periodically because I hope you will not only learn some things but because it will also inspire you to try some different things with roses!

The space is on a hillside and has several different areas. Some will be slightly formal and some casual and the terrain, light conditions and needs of the space will dictate that. We are starting with the driveway area. The final surface for the driveway isn’t down yet so this is the perfect time to make decisions here so we can lay any irrigation lines etc before the final surfacing. Read more.

How to Buy the Best Roses

Process

Here’s how you can choose the best rose plant to bring into your garden.

1. Look out for insects and disease. If you find any sign of either on the shrub, don’t buy it.

2. Check the height and width of the plant. Check the projected height and width on the plant tag to make sure the plant will be the right size for the space you have in mind.

3. Look for buds instead of blooms. If there are more buds than blooms, this means that the real rose show will occur in your garden instead of at the nursery.

4. Check the roots. First, tip the plant out of its container. Look for healthy, white roots. They should not be circling the root ball.

Once you’ve found a plant that meets this criteria, you know you’ll have a winning rose plant!

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