Doesn’t everyone love roses? They make spectacular cut flowers, smell heavenly, and come in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, the south is not a hospitable place for most roses. Tea Roses, the ones that bloom so well and make such great bouquets, require nearly constant spraying for molds, mildews and pests here in the south. For me, this means finding an alternative so I don’t feel cheated that I do not garden in California.
Roses can be complex. There are Old Roses, New Roses, Grandiflora, Floribunda, Noisette, Tea, Bourbon, China and English roses, just to name a few. (Noisettes were bred in Charleston, SC, so I know they will be suited for our heat and humidity. However, they are mostly climbers, meaning that they will grow upwards and cling to most any structure and they generally stop growing at about 20 feet.) “Knock Out” roses come in shrub form and there are two new varieties that are similar that are in a drift form. These are great for color, but have no fragrance and each bloom lasts about one day.
Antique roses will tolerate heat and humidity well. They were bred for just such a life. “Antique” is a broad classification and includes Noisettes, Floribunda, Bourbon, Grandiflora and others. Their advantage is their hardy natures in my environment and their fragrance and delicacy. The disadvantage is that they are not suitable for cutting. They shatter at the fist approach of clippers.
Here are a few of mine, which just finished blooming. I grow “Buff Beauty”, “Souvenir du Mal Maison”, “Kron Prinsess Viktoria”, “Dutchess du Brabant” and “Pearl d’Orr”. “Buff Beauty” is a climbing rose, and I chose it based on my observation of winners at the SC State Fair, where there were many “Buff Beauty” entries and some that were winners. I also chose it for the color and fragrance. I was gifted “Pearl d’Orr” by a Master Gardener who propagated one of her favorites for me from a cutting. The others I selected by going to many websites that recommended the best performers in the south and noting which ones appeared on multiple lists.
I buy roses from The Antique Rose Emporium in Tennessee. (I chose a rose vendor located in the hot and humid south.) These were a great value and the plants arrived with healthy root systems and disease free. Don’t buy roses from big box stores. These are indiscriminate, and you are playing the lottery when you buy them. Another great vendor for our area is Roses Unlimited in Laurens, SC. They are also on the web, but you might need to leave the plants potted for one year before planting them. Roses Unlimited sells them “on their own root” – meaning not grafted. I have three varieties in my yard, and I love them for fragrance and cutting to bring indoors. Here is one of them in full bloom:
Roses are classic, fundamental components of every garden. Even here in the hot and humid south, they can be grown successfully. The rewards are worth the extra effort of finding the right ones for your yard. There is nothing so special as walking through your garden and enjoying the fragrance as you pass by. The bouquet brought indoors is an affirmation of beauty and hope. Its as if all the world can go wrong, but your roses will still bloom, still be lovely and there is beauty in the world.