Roses can convey a range of emotions -- love, friendship, mourning. Brides often carry white roses to signify purity, loyalty and unity, and peach roses signify sincere appreciation.
For many people, the prospect of growing their own roses is intimidating. Some rose enthusiasts, though, say the flowers are easier to grow than expected, given the proper preparation and care.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service publication Rose Culture for Georgia Gardeners, by extension horticulturists Gary L. Wade and James T. Midcap, suggests that "many rose failures can be linked directly to poor site location. A site that provides sufficient sunlight, good soil and good air flow is of utmost importance."
Alyson Jennings, a sales representative at Southern Landscape in Evans, suggests testing the soil to ensure that it's good for proper rose-growing. Soil testing kits can be purchased at various garden centers throughout the county.
Roses need at least six hours of sun each day, with morning sun preferred. Morning sun helps to dry dew from the foliage and reduce leaf diseases.
Additionally, after planting a rose bush, it's important to spray it weekly or twice-weekly with a fungicide or a combination spray of fungicide and insecticide. Be sure to read the instructions to determine how often you should spray your plant.
The roots of a rose bush should be soaked several times each week to ensure the plant is getting enough water. Jennings recommends fertilizing each rose bush monthly with a liquid fertilizer.
"They're pretty heavy feeders," she said, adding that to keep your plant looking healthy, annual pruning is recommended. "We suggest that you prune around Valentine's Day. That way it's easy to remember when you need to prune. You want to prune back until you have trimmed about a third of the bush off."
Pruning, Jennings said, will produce a healthier plant.
"It just gets rid of some of the bad stems and helps the bush get a better shape to it," she said.
There are a multitude of Web sites that offer tips for caring for roses. One particularly helpful site is the American Rose Society -- www.ars.org -- which offers an "ask a rose question" link where questions to consulting "rosarians" can be e-mailed. The Society also holds schools and seminars throughout the nation for enthusiasts.
With proper care, rosebushes will produce blooms from spring through frost.
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