Orange County Rose Society

What are the types of roses I can buy?

The rose comes in many classes but we can narrow the list into 5 categories. The standard abbreviations are placed in parentheses.

The most widely known is the Hybrid Tea (HT). This is the classic rose we clamor for at the florist: urn-shaped buds on long stems.  The hybrid tea can open to a nice triangular spiral of petals or open to a wide stance of petals showing off the colorful stamens of pollen.  These bushes are on average 4-6 feet in height. Another class similar to HT is the stately Grandiflora. These roses produce clusters of hybrid-tea shaped flowers.

Roses pictured above (from left): Moonstone (HT), Cherry Parfait (Grandiflora), Paradise (HT) and Marilyn Monroe (HT)

Another popular class is Floribunda (F) which is shorter and bushier than the hybrid teas who bloom in clusters.  The first flush of blooms in spring are huge mounds of blooms causing many to literally say "wow!"  The ever popular landscaper's rose choice is the floribunda, Iceberg.

Roses pictured above (from left, all Floribundas): Brass Band, Purple Tiger, Scentimental and Cinco de Mayo

Centuries old are the Old Garden Roses (OGR), literally.  Having survived for over 100 years, you can see why they are amazing to have and to smell.  Strong fragrance appeases the senses.  Some classes are Bourbons, Portlands, Noisettes, China to name a few.

Roses pictured above (from left) Mme. Ernest Calvat, Zepherin Drouhin, Reine des Violettes, and Isaac Pereire

Next are the Shrubs (S) who are divided into classic and modern. These roses are exactly how they are named.  They are used as shrubs!  A name most associated with this group are the English shrub rose or "Austin" roses named for their hybridizer, David Austin.  Mr. Austin took the repeatability of floribundas and merged them with the look and scents of old garden roses.  Here in Southern California, the bushes grow much bigger than you will see in England. Give them more room to grow than the catalogs or internet descriptions describe. If you are looking for scented roses, this is an excellent  choice!


Roses pictured above (from left): Tradescant (David Austin rose) and Distant Drums (Shrub)

Who said small is not powerful?  Miniature (Min) roses pack a punch of color and give gardeners with small spaces a chance to grow roses. Easily grown in pots with their height of 18" to 3 feet make it an ideal rose to start or add some color to the front of your garden.  Micromini and Miniflora are variations based on the size of the flower.

Roses pictured above (from left): Dr. John Dickman (Miniflora), Minnie Pearl (Miniature), Jean Kenneally (Miniature) and Alakazam (Miniflora)

What roses should I grow if I live in one of the coastal cities in Orange County?

Surprisingly, there are many roses that can be grown in the coastal region.  Orange County Rose Society member, Stu Span, has written a book on growing in this challenging microclimate, Easy to Grow Roses.  If you live within 10 miles of the beach, you "are along the coast." A good rule of thumb is to stick with roses of 25 petals or less as well as having an excellent disease resistance. The newer roses being released emphasize disease resistance as this is the number one deterrent to growing roses.

Some suggestions: Fabulous!, any of Knockout varieties, Home Run, Gemini, Fourth of July, Hot Cocoa, Altissimo, Betty Boop

Iceberg is a popular roses that landscapers use. It does mildew easily along the coast.  Use with caution as you need excellent air circulation and diligence to keep moisture off the plant to prevent this malady.

Can roses be grown in pots?

Absolutely!  Some of the top exhibitors in Southern California uses this method exclusively.  Attend a rose show and you will repeatedly see the name of Susanne Horn. All of her roses are grown in pots, which is around 450 roses!.  Phil Ash is another rosarian who rather than fight the clay soil, grows his lovely roses in pots.

Depending on the size of your plant, will determine the size of the pot.  Let's start with miniature roses.  This is the ideal rose to grow by this method.  A 5 to 7 gallon squat pot is what you will need.  What is a squat pot? Roses spread their roots out not down so you want a wide pot.  Generally it is as wide as it is tall.  The pot needs drainage holes and ideally around the outside.  Cover the holes with drywall tape or landscaping cloth to prevent soil from being washed out. Use a potting soil rich in organic material and has a pH of 6.5.  Roses love acidic soil.  Alas, our natural soil pH runs higher at 7.5.  You can amend the soil with some pumice or perlite.  The term sandy loom soil is described as the ideal soil for roses. Water-retention polymer crystals can be adding sparingly.  The biggest drawback to pots is the loss of moisture.  Diligent watering is a must.  Every 2-3 years, roses with have to be removed and repotted in new soil.  Fertilizer should be at half-strength.

Floribundas and small shrub roses also do well in pots 10-15 gallons.  Hybrid Tea and climbers are more difficult to manage as the pots are 20+ gallon in size.  Repotting these are cumbersome.  To remove these use an old pair of oven mits to protect your arms.

How often do I need to water roses?

Water is the number one key to getting beautiful roses. Not only that but consistent watering. As the temperatures rise, so should your watering regime. Soil should remain damp, not saturated.  Water in the morning hours.  Excess moisture will dry off and help prevent fungal diseases.  An occasional overhead watering especially during high temperatures will help cool the roses and wash spores and dirt off the plants. A quick refernce guide:

  • 80º: three times a week 
  • 90ºF: daily
  • Overr 100º: twice a day

If your are prone to Santa Ana winds, watering ahead of increased temperatures will help the roses survive the quick drop in humidity and hot daytime temps.

Water before you spray as this will keep shock to plant down.  Water before you prune the roses in January.  As you can see, watering before doing any major chore to the rose is a must.

I've seen a picture of a blue rose. Where can I buy it?

This is one of the biggest urban legends being spread throughout the internet.  It is impossible for a rose to naturally be blue.  There is no blue gene found in roses.

Roses can be white, yellow, orange,  pink, red, lavender, purple.  They can be combinations of those colors.  Some are striped and there are some with polka dots!

Genetic engineering to insert a blue gene has and is being tried, but is not  successful.

What are the holes in my leaves?

The tree most common reasons are rose slugs, grasshoppers and/or katydids, or cutter bees.

Early in the spring, rose slugs will make round, lace-like holes.  You can follow the trail of holes from small to larger up the plant as the slugs mature.  Where the holes stop you will find these uninvited guests by turning over the leaflet.  They are chartreuse, flat, caterpillar-like who are not a caterpillar but the larva of the sawfly.  Sprays with the active ingredient, Spinosad will help eradicate them.  It must be sprayed under the leaves. If you have only a few bushes, just squish them.  You want to wear gloves to do this.

Grasshopper and Katydids are two different insects.  Katydids are green with flattened thoraxes.  Grasshoppers have rounder thoraxes and vary in color from green to brown.  No matter, they are both destructive to the bud and leaves of the rose. Leaf damage is generally an irregular destruction on the outside of the leaves. They will munch on the forming buds also.  They don't like water, which can "flush" them out of hiding where you can kill them with the pruners by decapitating them. Their exoskeleton is quite tough and insecticides are not very effective on adults.  Birds are natural predators.

Come September you notice some bushes have the most perfect semi-circular cuts.  This is new!  Cutter bees have arrived and have chosen you rose to line their nests with its leaves.  They look like a black honey bee. This is temporary and after a month should cease.  Exhibitors get frustrated by this flaw, but it does not harm the plant.

What is the difference between a sucker and a basal break?

Let's first define what a sucker and a basal break are.  From there, it is a lot easier to answer the question.

A sucker is new growth that comes from the root stock that grafted roses grow on.  Oh, no!  Another new term to understand!  Many larger roses are grown grafted onto hardy wood known as root stock.  Traditionally here in Southern California, the root stock is from a rose called, Dr. Huey.  Sometimes this root stock will send out a new cane, which is called a sucker. Suckers need to be removed as they will drain energy away from the real rose you are trying to grow.  Look at the leaves growing on this cane.  It will look different and if let to grow at the very end you will get a small red rose. To remove this follow the cane down until you can cut it directly from the root stock.  Sometimes you will dig down below the surface.  Use a pruning saw to cleanly cut this away.

Keeping in mind what you just read above, the basal break is the good one to keep. This is a new vigorous cane.  The leaves will look like it belongs to the rose plant. Many basal breaks will be a dark red color.  As the cane matures, it will turn green.  Basal breaks are good sign you are doing the right things for your rose.

There are own root roses which grow only on their own canes.  They do not get suckers so their new basal breaks will come from under the ground.  Grafted roses have a bump of wood where the canes were grafted into.  Look for this formation to determine whether the rose is grafted or not.

To summarize: sucker=bad cane   basal break=good cane