Growing Roses in Northern Colorado

Growing Roses In Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of rose growing experience


I have attended rose society programs and rose growing classes where it seemed like the person or people doing the program or class seemed out of sync with our area. There seem to be some “standard informational lines” about rose growing that are passed on from one person to the next without any real thought about checking their validity to the actual location. Growing roses in Colorado varies a lot from one location to another depending on altitude as well as the soils in those various locations. When there is a large variation in what works and what does not, within one single State, there are no doubt huge variations from State to State. The variations from our Country to other Countries are surely staggering.


My advice to anyone that is either new to growing roses, or someone that has moved to a new location and wants to grow roses there, is to seek out someone that has grown roses in that location for several years. Perhaps there is a neighbor close by that grows and enjoys roses.  A big plus would be that the location you are in has a local Rose Society with just such people as members. If that society has not only some long time rose growers in that area but also a Consulting Rosarian or two, you have found a gold mine of information indeed. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions about what works and what does not in growing roses in your location. Ask for one of the members of the local Rose Society or a Consulting Rosarian in your location to come by your proposed garden(s) and see what they think of the proposed location(s). It would be helpful to whomever you have come by your proposed garden location if you would dig a couple holes in the soils in the proposed garden locations to expose some of the underlying soils. The American Rose Society has a listing of Consulting Rosarians on their website at . Or maybe better, drive around your neighborhood and look for some nice rose gardens. Stop in and compliment the folks on their rose garden and ask them if they have a minute or two to share some information on growing roses in the area.


 Some statements about growing roses need to be carefully examined. One such statement is that it is not possible to “over water” your roses. “Water your roses as often as you want, roses love water”. Such a statement is not entirely true here in portions of Northern Colorado. We have areas were the clay soils present big problems with drainage. If you were to dig a hole for a rosebush that was 20 inches in diameter and 20 to 24 inches deep, replacing those soils completely, you would have something similar to having planted the rosebush in a large pot without a drainage hole. In such heavy clay you can in fact over water your rosebushes making them sickly and quite possibly losing them. In order to be sure some of these areas have proper drainage, a person would need to dig up the entire proposed garden or rose bed area and replace the soils to a depth of three feet with either totally new soils or heavily amended soils as well as put in a perforated drain line. This sort of drastic action is not likely to take place in most cases. Rather than that, we amend or replace the soils in the top six to twelve inches of the proposed garden location. Or perhaps we practice “spot amending” by just amending the soils or replace the native clayey soils totally in the individual planting locations.

The “spot amending” is done in hopes that the rosebushes’ root system will be strong enough once it reaches the clayey soils to punch through and do just fine. Being careful how much water is applied to the spot amended locations is vitally important. Upon examining some areas where rosebushes have died, I have found a small pool of foul smelling water at the bottom of a very soggy planting hole. The rosebush had no root system to speak of as most of it had long ago rotted off. The times that I found this condition I asked the rose loving gardener how often they watered their roses. The answers were either every other day or every three to four days watering had been done.


I personally do not have real severe clay problems where I live, yet I still do have significant clayey soils to deal with. I amend my soils heavily using the best compost I can find. When I have run into the severe clay problems I have changed out the soils or heavily amended them with some Clay Buster amendment. In the cases where the clay was severe I also dug out trenches partially filled with pea gravel to help create better drainage for my chosen garden location. Trying to figure out exactly when the roses should be watered can be difficult in these clayey conditions.


I use a moisture meter to help me make sure the roses get enough water yet are not over watered. I purchased a moisture meter with the longest probe end on it that I could find. Before watering the roses I push the probe of the moisture meter down into the soils around the rosebush as far as it will go and check the reading. It is important to probe the soils out away from the center of the bush a ways. Probing the soils too close in to the rosebush will not give you good readings of moisture availability to the actual root system. I probe or “moisture test” the soils in at least three different locations around each rosebush to give me better information as to the soils moisture availability all around the bush. I combine the readings around each bush to determine if a good watering is in order, a light watering is in order or if I can wait a while before watering. Keep in mind that even a light watering with a deep watering device can go a long way in real clayey soils.

There are times when I want to probe the soils deeper than my moisture meters probe will reach. In those cases I will dig out a small hole in the soils in the three testing locations and then do the moisture meter testing. The testing holes are filled back in with amended soils and lightly tamped so as not to pack the soils in those areas.  


Watering is just one area where growing roses differs from one locations soils type to another. The nutrients readily available and not readily available in various soils also vary greatly from one location to another. The components needed in the soils to “unlock” the various nutrients for easy uptake by the rosebush root systems can also vary greatly from one location to the next. Having a neighbor that is a gardener is of high value to you if you are just planting your first rose or rose bed as they can probably tell you a lot about the soils and nutrients needed. In the absence of such good local information a soils test done on your proposed garden area is an excellent way to go. A combination of both forms of information is priceless information.


What you read in books or hear in classes on Rose Growing are usually good “general tips or rules” for your use in successful rose growing. However some local information is required to assure that success.



Honey Bouquet - Floribunda Rose - "Sunlit Spray" - Photo By: Stan V. Griep - May 2012.
Honey Bouquet – Floribunda Rose – “Sunlit Spray” – Photo By: Stan V. Griep – May 2012.

My Fungicide Spraying Program

Stan’s Fungicide Spraying Program



Spring when first leaves appear          –   Spray with Banner Maxx or Honor  Guard.


Three weeks later and on                    –     Spray with Green Cure at Cure Rate.


If Powdery Mildew develops            –      Spray with Cure Rate of Green Cure.


If Black Spot attacks                          –      Spray with Mancozeb every 7 days for 3 

                                                                       spraying cycles. Follow with spraying of 

                                                                       Green Cure 10 days after last Mancozeb application.


End of Season                                     –       Spray with Banner Maxx, Honor Guard, Green Cure

                                                                       or fungicide of your choice.






Mancozeb will leave a yellowish powder residue upon the foliage of the rosebush. This is part of how it works. The leaves infected with the black spot will not get worse and will not heal back to green leaves either. New foliage should be free of black spot.

To lessen the yellowish powder residue on the foliage, Mancozeb can be mixed with Immunox for application, both added to the spray tank in the amounts needed as if they were the only chemical in the tank. The “follow-up” spraying after Mancozeb with Green Cure is recommended.


Very Important Note: Be sure to water your roses very well prior to any pesticide application!




Rose Growing Terms and Information





Rose & Garden Terms:

Rose World Words Defined:


Asexual Production – the producing of new plants by any method but seeds.

Balled – a term used to describe a rose bud that has not opened properly and has rotted.

Bare Root – a dormant, pruned plant that is sold without soil.

Basal Break – a strong, new cane growing from the bud union.

Blind Shoot – a non-flowering growth that must be removed to enable the plant to expend its energy on creating flowers rather than foliage.

Botanical Name – the Latin, scientific name of a plant, which includes the genus and species.

Bud Union – the swelling on the bottom of a plant stem where the graft is joined with the rootstock.

Climber – a vigorously growing variety of rose that has canes of up to 20 feet in length. Climbers are often sports of bush forms of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. Training the long canes in a horizontal position will produce more blooms. A climber does not attach to but must be tied onto a trellis or support.

Cultivar – a contraction of the term “cultivated variety”. A plant that has been bred or cultivated by man and is not found growing wild in nature.

Deadhead – to prune off the older dead or spent blooms. Pruning back the stem to an outward facing bud will encourage the rosebush to produce more growth and buds for blooms. Unless ornamental hips are desired in the fall, most roses should be regularly deadheaded to bring forth repeat blooming.

Dieback – this is when tips, shoots or canes die, due to disease or damage such as winter freezing of the canes.

Disbudding – the removal of some of the buds on a rosebush to encourage fewer but larger blooms.

Dormancy – the temporary stop in growth during the winter months.

Floribunda – rosebushes that produce clusters of blooms all season long and are generally bushier and more disease resistant than Hybrid Teas. Floribundas usually grow to about 3 feet high.

Graft – the point where the rootstock and the desired variety of rose were joined to grow as one rosebush.

Grandiflora – tall and vigorous rosebushes growing up to 8 feet tall, they have the flower form of the Hybrid Tea but the hardiness and cluster blooming of the Floribunda.

Hardiness – the resilience of a plant to cold, drought or disease.

Heirloom – a plant or seed variety that has been passed down through the generations.

Heirloom Rosesall roses that were in existence before the introduction in 1867 of La France, the very first hybrid tea rose.

Hips – the seedpod or fruit of the rose. Hips are produced in a wide assortment of bright fall colors and shapes and are generally more predominant in old garden roses that flower once a year.

Hybrid – the offspring that is the result of the crossing of two different species, cultivars or varieties; this is usually produced artificially in cultivation.

Mulch – an organic material, such as pine needles, home compost, rotted manure, grass clippings, shredded leaves, shredded bark or straw which protects the plant from weeds, water evaporation and changes in soil temperature and enriches and improves the texture and structure of the soil. (Shredded Cedar mulch is an excellent mulch material.)

Old Garden Rose – the types of roses that existed before 1867, most of these bloom only once and are very fragrant.

Own-root – a rose that grows on its own roots, propagated through cuttings or seeds, rather than being grafted onto rootstock.

Pesticide – any chemical used by man to control pests of any kind. Fungicides, Herbicides and Insecticides are part of this group.

Procumbent – a plant that trails along the ground.

Ramblers – Ramblers are not sports like climbers; they are a distinct type of rose. Ramblers have flexible canes and flower once in early summer on canes that grew the previous year. They are very vigorous and can grow 30 feet in every direction.

Remontant – a plant that blooms continuously or is repeat blooming.

Rootstock – the understock or base of the plant onto which the variety of rose is grafted. Some common rootstocks are Dr. Huey, Multiflora and Fortuniana (a warm climate rootstock).


Rosarian hobbyists or professionals who specialize in the cultivation of roses and the enjoyment thereof.

Rose Propagation – to dig up rooted shoots from the main plant or to take cuttings of a specimen plant.

Self-sowing – plants that propagate themselves by dropping seeds to produce new plants the next year.

Shovel Pruning – digging up and discarding an unwanted rosebush from the garden.

Soil Amendment – any organic material that is added to the soil to improve and enrich its texture, nutrition and draining quality.

Soil pH – the measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of the soil with 0 – 6.9 being acidic, 7 is neutral and 7.1 – 14 being alkaline. Roses seem to do their best in soil that is a little on the acidic side at 6.5 pH.

Species Roses – roses that grow in the wild.

Sport – an unusual change in growth or color that can occur on an established variety, usually the result of a natural mutation. A climbing rose is an example of a growth sport.

Spray – a group of blooms on a single stem.

Standard – a standard is another term for tree rose. A variety of rose is grafted onto an understock stem.

Sucker – An unwanted growth that comes from below the bud union on a grafted rose. This is the growth of the understock and must be removed. Suckers usually have leaves of a different color and shape than that of the cultivar. It is important to rip off the sucker directly from the rootstock; simply cutting it off will stimulate it to re-grow.

Wind-rock – winter winds can loosen the roots of roses making them more susceptible to damage. Shortening the long canes of roses in the fall will reduce the risk.


A Few Measurement Conversions: 


1 Tablespoon  = 3 Teaspoons


1 fl. oz. = 2 Tablespoons or 6 teaspoons 


6 fl. ozs.  = ¾ cup


1 ½ Tablespoons in 3 gallons of water  = 1 ½ teaspoons in 1 gallon of water.


2 Tablespoons in 3 gallons of water = 2 teaspoons in 1 gallon of water.







The Myth of Day Watering

Per Robert Cox, Horticulture Agent, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.

Still showing up in some popular garden literature is the notion that “day-watering can burn plants.”  The notion says that sunlight is “magnified by the water drop on the leaf to cause a leaf burn.

Anyone who ever burned ants using a magnifying glass and the sun knows that the magnifying glass did not burn the ant if it were placed directly on the ant.  Rather, it had to be held a distance (focal distance) from the ant to concentrate the sun’s rays enough to burn the ant.

If this notion were true, all gardeners would cover all their plants prior to every rainstorm.

Farmers would not be able to prevent widespread “leafburn” after rain clouds gave way to sunshine.  The root of this notion may have come from the effects of applying poor-quality water high in dissolved salts.  As water drops evaporated from leaves,the salts left behind could cause a leaf burn.

These are but a few of many claims and examples of conventional wisdom offered to the gardening public.

Ever since gardens were planted, observations and anecdotal claims have been offered to improve garden success.  Some of these may be myths in Colorado but good advice in other areas of the country.  Be cautious of label and advertising claims for garden products and skeptical of what you hear–and read!


Selecting Rosebushes for Your Gardens/Rose Beds

Selecting Rosebushes
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience

             There are many varieties of roses available for purchase today. There are also many places to purchase rosebushes. On-line purchasing of bare root or potted rosebushes has become quite popular.  On-line purchasing of roses is especially popular when looking for a certain rose that is not available locally. No matter where you purchase your rosebushes, it is extremely important to obtain good high quality rosebushes. Nothing is worse for a beginning rose grower than to purchase a rosebush that is not healthy or has some other problems to start with. I have been contacted by beginning rose lovers that are extremely frustrated over the lack of performance of their new rosebush. I go over everything they did from purchasing to planting of the rosebush first. Then I inspect the actual rosebush to see if I can spot any obvious problems. Many times I have dug down along side a problem rosebush to find that its root system is nearly non-existent. The new rose lover had purchased a bare root rosebush at a local store that even though it was still in its plastic wrapping had started to leaf out. The new rose lover reasoned that the rosebush must be very healthy if it was leafing out so nicely while still in the wrapping.  Once the rosebush was unwrapped our new rose lover noticed that there were not many roots there at all, yet went ahead and got it planted and watered well. A warm afternoon followed soon after planting and all the foliage went limp and died. What once had been a happy and excited beginning rose lover, was now a frustrated and upset rose lover. In many cases that new rose lover feels that he or she did something wrong and thus roses are given the label of hard to grow or very finicky. Most of the time what actually happened was that the rosebush had its root system badly chopped off or cut back at some point either during its harvest for sale or perhaps at packaging time. The limited root system was packed in nice wet sawdust and was capable of getting all the moisture it needed to support the growth it started to put forth while in the wrapping. One the new rose lover took away that wet sawdust packing and planted it in the garden, even though well watered, the new planting medium did not have the same moisture providing availability. Through on top of that the warm to hot afternoon sun and a root system that is not developed or established enough to support any foliage and what you get is limp to crispy foliage very quickly. Most of the time the rosebush will die as the root system is just not sufficient to support it. Thus the passion of growing and enjoying roses gets a much undeserved black eye of sorts.


When buying bare root rosebushes always take a good look at their root systems and inspect them for any damage or possible signs of disease. If some areas of the roots look slimy feel free to prune them back to good tissue. If the root system does not look right to you take it back to the store where purchased and ask for another rosebush. If the rosebush was purchased on-line call the company and explain the situation to them. The company will then advise you on how they want you to handle the situation. The company it was purchased from will replace the rosebush in many cases.

Some companies will want the rosebush shipped back to them and then will send out a replacement. The canes of the rosebush must be inspected as well for any damage or signs of disease. If significant signs of damage or disease are found, follow the same steps given previously when finding problems with the root systems.

When purchasing rosebushes that are started in pots it is still necessary to take a look at the root system. Have one of the store or nursery employees tip the rosebush upside down while firmly holding the rose at the point where it enters the soils in the pot.


If the soils easily spill out of the pot to the point where the roots are exposed, it has not been in the pot long enough to get the root system growing and developing. In such cases the root system may well be in trouble when it comes to supporting its foliage when removed from the pot and planted in your garden or rose bed. There is nothing wrong with going ahead and buying such rosebushes, just be aware that you will need to keep an eye on the soils moisture and also make some provisions to protect the rosebush from the direct intensity of the sun for at least a couple of weeks. My favorite local greenhouse sells wonderful potted rosebushes that always seem to have very well developed root systems in the pots. When I remove them from the pots the root growth is easily seen and when tipped upside down a little of the top of pot soil may come out but the root zone stays intact. Many folks will say to be sure to get #1 grade roses which is a good idea, however there are times when the marketing folks have a different idea of what makes a #1 grade rosebush than what the typical rule is. The #1 grade rosebush is supposed to be the more mature bush with a better root system and will have 3 or more strong canes at least one of which must be a minimum of 1/2 inch in diameter and 18 inches in length. The #1 ½ rosebush will have 2 or more canes that are a minimum of 5/16 inch in diameter and at least 15inches in length. A #2 rosebush has canes but may all be very small diameters and the root systems are not well developed.


Part of selecting a good rosebush has to do with knowing where in your garden or rose bed you intend to plant it. Read the available information on the rosebush or rosebushes you intend to buy. The amount of room a given rosebush needs to thrive can differ greatly from rosebush to rosebush. Some hybrid teas like to stretch for the sky and do not spread out much. One would want to be careful about planting such roses where roof eaves or overhangs are close by. Many floribundas love to spread out and load up with their beautiful clusters of blooms. One would not want to plant such a rosebush in a tight or limited space environment.  Many rose lovers make such mistakes with miniature rose bushes as well. A wonderful lady from California that ran a miniature rose business originally started by her mother once gave me a major tip about mini rosebushes. She told me to remember that the “mini” in miniature roses means the bloom and not necessarily the bush. Thus it is just as important to read up on the miniature roses as well to see what their various growth habits are.


Keep in mind that the price you pay for a rose may not be a solid indication of how healthy or hardy the rosebush may be. In some cases I may pay $3.00 or less for a bare root plastic wrapped rosebush and get exactly what I paid for in that it will need much tender loving care (TLC) to get it going and even with all the TLC it will never really make much of a bush, thus all of that TLC was to no avail as the rosebush either did not perform well or died in spite of it. Thus that $3.00 purchase added in with all of my TLC time may equal zero in returns and hundreds in frustration. The same can be said for a potted and started rosebush that costs $25.00 or more as it may not perform well in my garden or rose bed environment but this is far less likely. Once removed from the optimum greenhouse growing environment, some rosebushes go into a bit of transplanting shock. The rosebush may appear to be stuck at a certain stage and existing buds are not opening and blooming.


As long as the leaves are looking healthy and not going limp and the buds remain erect and do not go limp, things will be fine in time. What we cannot see is the root system attempting to establish itself into its new environment. Adding some vitamin B1 solution, Superthrive or root stimulator to the soils around the rosebush should help with the shock as well as aid the root system in its development.


One of my grandmothers used to totally disbud the newly planted potted and growing rosebushes thus not allowing it to have that first cycle of blooms in her garden. Her reasoning was to allow the rosebushes energies to go into building and establishing its root system rather than making the rosebush try to do both produce blooms and build up its root system at the same time. She felt that usually either the blooms or the root system, sometimes both, had too much of a struggle thus not performing as well in the long run. The buds would open but the blooms will be flatter than they normally would be or will not last long at all. The blooms may be without the fragrance they were advertised to have. Giving the root system its best opportunity to get well established was the top concern, as the root system must be doing well for the rosebush to pass its “winter test” here in Colorado. So, while difficult to do, the total disbudding of newly planted potted and growing rosebushes would appear to have some merit.


Basically look every rosebush you are considering buying over very well. Then give it your best efforts to give it a good home that it will thrive in. A happy and hardy rose makes for a happy you! Also realize that no matter how much you pay for a rosebush it just may not thrive and that may not have anything to do with your efforts. I have had three rosebushes of the same name and variety perform totally differently. It comes down to the actual “will of the rosebush”. Some have a strong will to thrive and perform, others need more coaxing to perform and some must be part mule as they are stubborn all the way! If you love the rose and want it in your garden don’t give up on the variety, I encourage you to try another rosebush of the same variety. Seek the joy and peace that truly come with growing roses, do your best to keep frustrations to a minimum by studying this object of your affections. Seek out others in your area that grow roses such as any local Consulting Rosarians for their advice on tending to roses as their advice may well be better than any book ever written for growing roses in your location. A list of Consulting Rosarians listed by State may be found at the American Rose Society website at I further encourage you to seek a local rose society, go to some of their meetings and check them out. Joining up is optional.


Now on to the preparations for planting and actual planting of our rosebushes…


Winter Magic – Miniature Rose – As captured by: Stan V. Griep


Miniature Rose Growing Tips

Mini Rose Growing Tips

By Sue (O’Brien) Curry {Daughter of Dee Bennett}

Hybridizers and former owners of Tiny Petals Nursery


Every year, I have hundreds of people ask me how to rescue their dying mini roses that have been purchased at grocery stores or discount stores or were received as gifts. As someone who has been growing minis for almost 30 years and selling them for more than 14 years, I am concerned that folks don’t commit mini rosacide.

Here are basic guidelines for growing mini roses;

1. Minis are not houseplants!

Thousands of minis die on kitchen windowsills every year. Only with VERY SPECIAL CONDITIONS can anyone keep a miniature rose alive indoors…and those plants can never attain the vigor and beauty of outdoor grown minis.

2. Minis grow quickly…averaging knee to waist high.

That means transplant them to the ground or a much larger container immediately. A 2 to 3 gallon size pot would be appropriate for most minis.

3. Minis love the SUN!

Roses need a minimum of 4 to 6 hours of direct (in your face) sunlight every day to grow and thrive. Without the sun, they cannot bloom and may even DIE!

4. Do not put a saucer or ANY other water reservoir under your mini pot.

Minis love water…As long as they don’t have to stand in water all day. Water frequently and deeply. Flood the container or ground plant when watering but make sure the plant has drainage.

5. Minis don’t make ‘suckers’.

Most mini plants are grown on their own roots. This means that whatever new growth comes up…IS THAT PLANT!…even, if it is coming out of the ground. Only grafted plants, like tree roses, make suckers.

6. Cut old blooms off above a five-leaflet.

Don’t just snap off the bloom or let the plant form ‘hips’ (seed pod). Stems cut above a five-leaflet will continue to produce more stems and more flowers. Without this type of regular cleanup, your plant will slow down or stop making flowers altogether.

7. Don’t feed your plants immediately after transplanting.

Give them at least a month to settle in and make a bigger root system. When you do fertilize minis, use only half as much fertilizer as you would for the bigger roses and feed them no more than once per month. ‘Overfeeding’ your roses will cause your blooms to look deformed and increasing foliage growth, while slowing bloom production.

8. Always water your roses deeply a few hours before applying any chemical to your roses… insecticide, fungicide or fertilizer. This will help to prevent burning of the foliage. This tip holds true with ALL Rosebushes!

Fertilizer Notes

Fertilizers Notes:
            By Cactus Joe


  1. Organic fertilizers need time to release their “goodies”. The organic nitrogen is not available to plants until they are converted to soluble inorganic forms. Microorganisms in the soil do this job. You, therefore, get a natural form of slow release fertilizer. The release of nutrients is dependent on the population density of the microorganisms that are around to do the job and how active they are. And they work at different rates depending on the soil conditions – temperature, availability of moisture, aeration, etc. Which is just about perfect, since plant growth and nutrient needs increase as the temperature rises, just at the same time when microbial activities increase. These fertilizers, therefore, need to be applied early in the season, because it will take some time for the nutrients to be made available to the plants. How long? This depends – on the type of fertilizer, the soil type, and the ambient temperature. A good practice is to apply a mixture of bone meal (for phosphate) or super phosphate, blood meal or fish meal (for nitrogen) and alfalfa meal in early spring, generally when the first Spring pruning is done and the winter protective mulches are pulled back.


  1. Synthetic fertilizers in general release their ingredients relatively quickly. Unlike organic fertilizers, whose ingredients are stored in the organic non-soluble form until released by microbes, the synthetic fertilizers have ingredients that are soluble, and tend to leach out quickly with the rain. Thus application of these after the roses are showing unfurled leaves is recommended.


  1. The prices of the different synthetic fertilizers depend on the percentage concentration of the nitrogen, phosphate and potassium in the fertilizer and on how the ingredients are packaged. The cheaper ones probably are dissolved and released relatively quickly, whereas some of the mid-range priced ones are a “slow release” granular (but not in the encapsulated form of Osmocote, which is very expensive). Keep in mind that the faster the fertilizers are released, the more likely they are to cause damage due to root burn, and the more quickly they get leached out with rain and watering.


  1. In plant growth and health, both non-mineral and mineral nutrients are essential. The non-mineral nutrients of carbon, oxygen and water are freely available in air and water. These are fixed by the process of photosynthesis, using the sun’s energy. There are 13 mineral nutrients of which there are three primary macronutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (the NPK in your fertilizer label) – and three secondary macronutrients – calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S). The secondary macronutrients are usually available in sufficient amounts in most soils, but are more likely to be deficient in sandy soils. When we add lime, we are adding calcium and a bit of magnesium. When we use organic materials – compost, grass clippings – we provide sulphur. The remaining 7 mineral nutrients are micronutrients. These are essential elements that are only needed in small to minute amounts – boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn). If you use lots of organic material, notably from the compost pile, you will be providing plenty of these micronutrients.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But some fertilizers are packaged with small amounts of these, just to be sure. In general, if you have great, organic rich soil, additional application of micronutrients may not be necessary. It’s a different story, however, with container growing – over time, these minerals will be depleted with repeated waterings (and rain). Regular application of a soluble fertilizer is recommended as it has these micronutrients for container grown plants.


  1. Until the soil has built up enough of organic components to its composition, the virgin soil is usually lacking or short of the mineral macronutrients. When plants first grow on those soils, their growth “sucks” those macronutrients out of the soil, depleting the soil quickly. That’s where the bulk of fertilizing comes in – to constantly replenish the soil of these nutrients, especially at times of vigorous and rapid vegetative growth. Of these macronutrients, nitrogen (the N in NPK) promotes top growth – stems, foliage. It contributes to chlorophyll production, which gives the green color of healthy plants. More chlorophyll means increased photosynthetic capability therefore more plant growth. (Memory Note:  N = UP, P = DOWN and K = ALL-AROUND)


  1. Phosphorus (the P in NPK) promotes root development and increases flowering ability and bloom size. This is useful when you are planting that new mail order bare root rose in the garden, or when you are transplanting. It helps the plant establish faster by helping it grow a good root system quickly. Once established, it continues to help the plant maintain a good root system and promote flowering.


  1. Potassium (the K in NPK) is multi-functional. It promotes disease resistance and improves drought and cold tolerance. It helps in improving root development and promotes photosynthesis. I apply high-potassium fertilizer in late fall/early winter to improve cold hardiness. Some would recommend an application in early summer to improve tolerance to excessive summer heat, or for recovery from pest damage. 


  1. Most of you probably know (but some may like to know) that the three numbers, e.g. 6-8-6, refer to the percentages by weight respectively of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer. In another example of NPK of, say, 20-10-4, the respective compositions of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are 20%, 10% and 4%. A laterally thinking gardener would jump out of his chair and exclaim, “Hey! That’s only 34%!” Well, yes. Because the rest is made up by other ingredients, largely fillers. The fillers help you spread the fertilizers more evenly. Moreover, the choice of the filler determines how quickly the fertilizer gets released into the soil.



Planting Roses in Colorado

Planting Roses in Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience


Some early planning precedes a good planting. I like to plan where some new roses will go the next spring in the preceding fall. I dig the holes for them, amend the soils well and then refill the holes for the roses leaving a 5 or 6-inch mound of the amended soils in each location. By doing this very early digging and amending, the soils have all the rest of the fall and winter to get fully activated. By the time I am ready to plant a new rose, its new home is all ready and in top condition to welcome the new or transplanted rose. The natural nutrients in the amended soils are ready and waiting for the rose to take them up for good growth as well as creating a very favorable environment for the root zone to take hold in. 

This same preparation for the new rose or roses can take place in early spring as well, however the amended soils will not have as much time to get activated and ready for optimum root zone use.


I dig the rose holes approximately 18 inches in diameter and approximately 18 inches deep. The freshly dug soils are placed in a wheelbarrow along with some compost, a good clay buster amendment and some play sand. I sprinkle alfalfa meal over the contents of the wheelbarrow until the entire surface area has a greenish coloration from the alfalfa meal. Using my garden fork I turn the original soils and amendments over and over until well mixed. You will find that the soils mix gets easier and easier to work as it is turned. I remove all clumps of clay that do not want to break up and mix in well. If I have some rabbit droppings available at the time I am doing the soils amending, a heaping garden shovel full of the droppings is added into the soils mix as well.

All tiny and large roots in the planting hole area are cut back and removed. While digging the planting hole the sides of the hole can become very packed. I use my hand cultivator and loosen up the soils on the sides of the planting hole before refilling the hole or doing any future plantings as well. The freshly amended soils are then placed back into the planting hole leaving the 5 to 6 inch mound at the top. I create a little bowl edge around the mound to help trap any moisture and help carry that moisture in to the newly amended soils area. 


When the time comes to plant the new rose or roses, the earlier amended soils are much easier to dig out to create room for the new planting. As the soils are removed for the planting they are placed either in a wheel barrow or five gallon bucket making it easy to use them to fill in around the new planting. I place some super phosphate or bone meal in the bottom of the planting hole and mix it in with the soils there. This natural food gives the roots a real boost to get things growing. Once the planting hole is about half full with the replaced soils, I sprinkle ½ cup of alfalfa meal and 1/3 cup Epsom Salts all around the new bush mixing it in lightly with the soils.


The planting hole is then filled the rest of the way up to ground level. I move some of the soils in and around the union of the rose and may or may not cover the union at this time depending on the timing of the planting.

The rest of the soils are pulled back to form a bowl of sorts all around the outer diameter of the bush. The rosebush looks a little bit like a castle in the center of a moat. Extra amended soils are used to build up and firm up the edges of the bowl around the bush. The bush is watered well and the bowl around it filled with mulch. In my case I use either shredded cedar mulch or pebble mulch. (I call the bowls formed this way “banquet bowls” as they help deliver the food and water to my roses.)  :o) The bowl formed around the rosebushes acts as a great catch basin for spring rains as well as aiding in the overall deep watering of the rose bush when watered by hand or even with a drip irrigation system.


I have found this method of planting my roses eliminates the forming or encouragement of “rose suckers” from planting the rose union deeply right away (As an aid in future winter protection the union is often buried a good 2 inches below the surrounding grade level.).

Rose suckers are new shoots that come up from the rose planting that are below the grafting or union point of the rose bush.


If you plant only “own root” roses you will not have to concern yourself with taking such precautions against sucker shoots.


With my bowl method the graft or union area of the rose is left above the planting soils yet still below the surrounding grade level until the time comes for it to be protected. Very early spring plantings may require that the union/graft area be covered for a while until the weather gets more settled towards being warmer.


Once the time comes for winter protection, the bowl around the rose is used to add extra soils to create part of the mound for protection of the rose’s union/graft area. Soils are mounded up over the graft/union area first.

Mulch of some kind is then added to help hold the soils in place and help prevent the protection of the mounded soils from eroding away throughout the winter.


The last frost date here in Northern Colorado is around May 15th, but keep your eye on the weather reports.


Plant some new roses to add beautiful color and wonderful fragrance to your gardens this year!



Tuscan Sun - Floribunda Rose - First Bloom for Tuscan Sun 2012 - Photo By: Stan V. Griep 2012
Tuscan Sun – Floribunda Rose – First Bloom for Tuscan Sun 2012 – Photo By: Stan V. Griep 2012

Meanings of Colors of Roses


Meanings of Colors of Roses


 Red  —  Love, Respect


Light Pink  —  Admiration, Sympathy


Deep Pink  —  Gratitude, Appreciation


Yellow  —  Joy, Gladness


White  —  Innocence, Purity


Orange  — Enthusiasm


Red & Yellow Blend  —  Joviality


Pale Blended Tones  — Sociability, Friendship


Red Rosebuds  —  Purity


Rosebuds  — Youth


Single  Roses  — Simplicity


Two Roses Wired Together  —  Coming Marriage or Engagement











Deadheading Roses

Deadheading Roses
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 year of Rose Growing Experience 


The subject of “deadheading” or the removal of the old blooms from our roses seems to generate some controversy much the same as pruning them. Basically, when it comes to deadheading your rosebushes, I recommend using a method that gives you the results you are looking for. Should you be told that you are doing it “all wrong”, do not immediately believe that you are.


I witnessed and was taught various methods of deadheading by my Grandmothers and my Mother as a young man. I not only witnessed and learned each method but also saw how the rosebushes responded to each method. For my mother, a side concern of deadheading seemed to be how the overall bush looked after the deadheading routine, as far as its overall shape and harmony with the garden or bed the roses were in. Deadheading was not only the removal of the spent blooms, it was also a time to shape the rosebush and consider how and where the new growth would come in.


My grandmother, Mary May, would walk around her rose gardens at deadheading time and take a particular spent bloom in her hand. With a quick motion she would “snap” the bloom off. This would leave a bare stick of a stem standing up in the air a little ways above the foliage. There was no shaping of the bush done with her method, as all she really cared about was the pretty blooms. The looks of the overall bush really did not seem to matter so much to her. She felt that she got repeat blooms quicker using her method and stuck with it.


My grandmother, Molly, would prune off the spent blooms down to a healthy looking leaf set junction with the cane. It did not need to be a five-leaf junction. The pruning point could be at a three-leaf junction as long as the cane looked sturdy and healthy there. Although she did not really concern herself with the overall shape of the rose bush, her method always left the rose bush looking better without all the remaining stems sticking up in the air all over the place. Well, in my opinion anyway!


Over the years, I honestly do not remember the differences in repeat blooming being that great with any of the methods. I do remember my grandmother Mary May that used the “snap-off “deadheading method, complaining sometimes that a new big bloom would sag or “flop over” as its stem was too weak to support the new big rose bloom


I have heard and read that deadheading to the first 5-leaf junction when pruning Hybrid Tea roses is a “myth”. Yet I have observed first hand the problems that can come about by not doing so, especially with large blooms. There have been times when I have pruned, or deadheaded, back to a second five or more leaf junction just because the cane looked too small in diameter to support a new nice big bloom.

One rule of thumb that I have read about was deadheading to the first 5 or more leaf junction where the cane diameter is approximately that of a pencil. There is no need to get out any form of measuring device to check the diameter. It is simply a matter of what looks sturdy when comparing the diameter of the cane or stem at the point considered for deadheading, and the diameter of the stem for the bloom that is to be deadheaded. If the bloom being deadheaded was a nice big one and did not sag or droop, then that same diameter of cane should be sufficient to support the new growth and bloom. If the bloom being deadhead did have a droopy nature, perhaps it would be best to prune back to a larger diameter leaf-set to cane junction.


With Floribunda and Grandifloras I learned to prune back to a sturdy looking leaf-set to cane junction. The five-leaf rule does not need to apply with these wonderful bushes. Nor does it apply to deadheading my miniature rosebushes. Still of concern with these rosebushes is keeping an eye on where the new growth will come in at, or in other words, deadhead to a leaf-set junction where the new growth will go in the proper direction for the particular bush. When the overall rosebush has a tight center portion already, it would be best to deadhead to a point where the new growth will go out and away from that tight center growth area. For my floribunda and grandifloras I prefer to have a full looking bush so I will deadhead to a point where the new growth will come more into the center area of the bush at times.


One key thing I recommend before deadheading any rosebush is to step back and take a good look at the current rosebush. Then do your deadheading looking towards where the new growth needs to go to either achieve or maintain the shape that you desire for the overall rosebush.


As one of my final touches after deadheading, I seal the ends of all the freshly pruned canes with Elmer’s White Glue. This helps to keep the cane borers or cane boring wasps from entering into the tender fresh center pith of these cut cane ends causing the death of the cane, a portion of the cane and even sometimes the entire rosebush. It is important to use the non-water soluble White glue and not the school glue so that the hard seal is maintained over the cut end of the cane and does not wash off. Some folks tell me they have used wood glue for this but I cannot recommend its use, as when I used wood glue it caused significant cane die-back from the point of its application. I have been informed that some formulations of wood glue may contain chemicals that will cause the die back of the living tissues.


My final touch to the deadheading process is to water each rose well and gently rinse down all the foliage on each bush that has been deadheaded. The roses do seem to appreciate as well as respond to this final touch.


Find a deadheading method that gives you the results you like and stick with it. No matter what method or technique you choose, enjoy tending to your roses! They enjoy the time you spend with them and will reward you in full measure. 



Honey Bouquet - Floribunda Rose - Photo By Stan V. Griep_C2011
Honey Bouquet – Floribunda Rose – Photo By Stan V. Griep_C2011

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