Grow An Eco-Friendly Rose Garden

Article written by Saturday6TM blogger Teresa O'Connor from Seasonal Wisdom

I love growing roses, but I don't love using pesticides and fungicides to grow and maintain these plants in my garden. Fortunately, it's possible to grow gorgeous roses in an organic way with these seven eco-friendly tips:

  1. Pick Well: Over the years, I've gardened in diverse places from Boston to Boise to Bavaria. The roses that thrived in one area sometimes suffered in another. Grow roses suitable for your region, and you'll save yourself money and headaches. For recommendations, consult independent garden centers, rose clubs, cooperative extension services or neighbors.

    Have you ever grown rugosa or hybrid rugosa roses? These disease-resistant roses shouldn't even be sprayed with fungicides, pesticides or other chemicals, as spray can damage the foliage. The easy-care roses are tolerant to heat, cold and salty ocean air

    Many gardeners prefer hybrid tea rose, but they are the most disease-prone types. Still, there are plenty of options. Here in coastal California, disease-resistant roses like Just Joey don't seem to mind the morning fog. Hardy Mister Lincoln is a good pick for colder areas.

  2. Provide Good Homes: Your roses will grow best with six or more hours of daylight. Roses like healthy, well-drained soils which are slightly acidic (pH 6.2 to 6.8). Don't crowd your garden, this can lead to pest and disease problems. Leave space for adequate air circulation between plants.
  3. Give Roses Company: People often plant roses all by themselves.Your rose garden will actually stay healthier with other flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies nearby to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. 
  4. Food and Water: Roses thrive with regular feedings of well-balanced organic fertilizers, which release nutrients slowly. Follow directions carefully. More is not better. Overfeeding roses with nitrogen-rich fertilizers will overstimulate stem and leaf growth, attracting aphids that feed on these plant parts.

    Mitigate diseases and pest problems by watering correctly. Avoid wetting rose foliage to reduce fungal diseases. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to water at roots. Water in the morning so roses can dry during the day.

  5. Mulch: Adding mulch to rose beds saves water, reduces weeds, adds organic matter over time and regulates soil temperatures. Mulch mitigates fungal diseases by preventing disease spores from splashing on plant stems. Leave space between the mulch and stems to prevent root rot and pests.
  6. Prune Properly: To keep roses blooming, prune down to five leaves (not three) as I'm doing in the above photo. If you find diseased foliage or stems, prune them away and toss in trash. Don't compost them. Avoid spreading disease by wiping pruners with rubbing alcohol after each cut.
  7. Seek Better Solutions: By accepting a little imperfection in your garden, you can grow beautiful roses without chemicals that could kill beneficial insects and wild birds. If you must spray, consider nontoxic solutions such as insecticidal soap or neem oil. Don't forget that a strong spray of water can knock off aphids, spiders and other small pests on rose bushes.

With some patience and these gardening tips, you'll be surprised how well your roses grow without all the chemicals. It really is possible to have beautiful roses in an eco-friendly garden.