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Gardeners Dirt: Try these tips for growing roses

By Orland Adam Ureste Pereida
Feb. 10, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 9, 2011 at 8:10 p.m.

Information on growing roses has been published through the years. "A Book About Roses - How to Grow and Show Them," by Sir Reynolds Hole and published in England in 1874, includes interesting tips of its day.  The book is in the Pereida library.

There is nothing more beautiful than a garden full of roses. In my opinion, it takes some effort, patience and time to have anything worth having.


In my family, the love of roses goes back many generations. My great-grandfather, Librado Gonzales, would drive cattle from the ranch in Nursery for his father, Jose Maria Gonzales (1842-1899), a Victoria County pioneer cattleman. On one such cattle drive, he met his future wife, Josephine Samora, in Nacadoches. They married, and he brought her to live at the Nursery ranch. Together, they had seven children, one of which was my grandmother, Antonita Gonzales Ureste (1886-1968).

From one of the cattle drives, Librado brought a rose bush to the ranch for his wife. It had a pale pink flower with a light sweet fragrance and about 40-50 petals. It was an old-fashioned rose that was passed on to my grandmother, then to my mom, Hercelia Ureste Pereida, and now to me.

Along with this old rose and family history, a friend gave me a book, "A Book About Roses - How to Grow and Show Them," by Sir Reynolds Hole, published in Edinburgh and London, England, in 1874. This is my favorite passage: "I have always believed that the happiness of mankind might be increased by encouraging that love of a garden, that love of the beautiful, which is innate in us all. Get man out of the dram and beer shops, into the fresh pure air, interest him in the marvelous works of his God, instead of in the deformities of vice, give him an occupation which will add to his health and the comforts of his family, instead of destroying both, then build upon Natural Religion, and hope to see that man a Christian." Funny how those words from so long ago still have true meaning and a place in our society today.


I was inspired by my great-grandmother as she passed her knowledge and her rose down to me.


Plant roses in January or February in a sunny location and away from any roots. Use an even mix of topsoil, composted cow manure and peat moss in raised beds. If you buy bare-rooted roses, soak the roots in a diluted root stimulator solution. As your new leaves start to emerge from the canes, use a copper based fungicide for fungi.


Fertilize fresh planted roses with a general rose fertilizer at half strength to help establish the new root and leaf growth. There is misuse of chemicals and fertilizers in our world today by home owners, and we need to protect our most valuable resource, our fresh water supplies. Fertilize established roses every other week with a mix of blood and bone meal. Use an iron additive to help prevent chlorosis of the leaves.


If you are not sure about your soil condition, always conduct a soil test through the Victoria County Extension Office. Your soil should be tested once a year, or at least every third year no matter what you are growing. This goes for ranchers, too. Do not just use 13-13-13 because that is what your friend or neighbor uses. The test will tell you which type fertilizer to use.


In dry conditions, make sure you water the roses every other day, and keep them well mulched, especially newly-planted ones.


Roses need to be pruned by mid-February. Cut them back to 18-24 inches in height. Canes that are dead or smaller than pencil size should be removed. Thin out branches to allow air to circulate. Use sterilized cutting tools to prevent the spread of potential bacteria and viral infestation.


Clip your flowers, and bring their beauty and fragrance indoors to enhance any setting. Enjoy. You certainly have earned it, and what fun you have had along the way. Like they say, take time to smell those roses and share your knowledge with others.

Monday is a day for roses. Come to the Lunch and Learn with the Masters session on planting, pruning and caring for roses. It's from noon to 1 p.m. at the Pattie Dodson Health Center.

The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.



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