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Coming up roses
A little extra work provides flowers throughout the season


September 2008

Bronze star

"You can’t plant roses and forget about them, because they’ll pop up and say, ‘Here I am, look how beautiful I am," jokes Chuck Steele, long-time garden enthusiast and rose expert. Steele, whose roses appear below, provided several pieces of advice for the Wisconsin gardener hoping to start a rose garden of their own. In general, roses require approximately six hours of sunlight accompanied by 1 inch of water per week. They should also be fertilized on a regular basis. Some problems that commonly arise in roses include blackspot (a fungal disease which destroys the leaves) and mildew. These can be avoided by planting roses with enough space for air circulation and by using systemic granules or sprays about three times throughout the growing season.

One of the best things about roses is they bloom repeatedly. "Roses bloom up until the first frost and sometimes after," says Steele. "My roses are green right up until November when I get them ready for winter." Steele prepares his roses for Wisconsin winters by cutting the plants back to about 12 inches, covering them with dry leaves, and covering with a layer of plastic. The varieties of roses offer gardeners many different colors, petal counts, and fragrances. The roses also vary in their resistance to disease and their uses.

Sarah Grimm, horiculturist at Boerner Botanical Gardens, details the major differences between the varieties.

Johann Strauss

This floribunda rose, named for the composer, with its 100 petal count, is used to create mass color in the garden. The floribunda varieties bloom in clusters with five to seven blooms to a group. This rose has good disease resistance.

Bronze Star

This hybrid tea rose, named for the servicemen of WWII who received Bronze Stars, produces a florists’ single long stem, apricot-colored rose. It is known for its large, fragrant blooms. It has fair disease resistance, yet it requires more winter protection in this area.

Mister Lincoln

This presidential variety produces the classic, single long stem rose. Like other hybrid tea roses it requires a greater degree of winter protection.

Nearly Wild

As its name indicates the Nearly Wild has similarities with species (wild) roses which makes it the hardiest of the bunch. It has little to no fragrance, small, five-petaled blooms and a shrubbier growth habit which makes it a desirable border plant.

Julia Child

Like other floribundas, this rose produces many blooms and shows great overall color in the garden. This rose won the AARS award in 2006 for its disease resistance and other admirable traits.

Peppermint Twist

This aptly named floribunda variety produces a unique section of mass color with its red and white striped petals. As a floribunda its cold hardiness falls somewhere in the middle due to the fact that while it descends from hybrid teas it also inherits some cold hardiness from its polyantha ancestors.

Love & Peace

This hybrid tea rose is known for its famous father, the Peace rose. This less-hardy variety is desirable for its unique yellow and pink petals.


This story ran in the September 2008 issue of: