By: Justin Butts
Roses are excellent flowers for the Coastal Bend, as they’re hardy perennials that can survive the worst of our summers and our coldest winters. Best of all, roses in our area bloom throughout the year.
There are many types of rose plants—they can grow as a small bush, a gorgeous hedge, a rambling ground cover, a towering climber, in containers, in miniature versions and even as a small tree. There is a rose to fit virtually any landscaping need, but there is an important distinction to consider when selecting your new plants: antique roses versus hybrid roses.
Antiques, also known as “historic” or “old roses,” have been handed down for many generations. Antiques suitable for the Coastal Bend are generally hardier than hybrids, more drought- and heat-tolerant and less sensitive to pests and diseases. Antiques flower prolifically with a massive show of blooms. Most notably, antiques offer that powerful rose aroma, compared to hybrids which have minimal scent.
Hybrid roses include all varieties developed after the famous La France rose in 1867, the first rose hybrid. There are thousands of varieties on the market, available in a limitless array of colors, sizes and shapes. They offer a smaller number of nearly perfect flowers throughout the season rather than a big show of blooms, and have longer, straighter stems, making them ideal for cut flowers.
Check with a knowledgeable local nursery employee for the best rose type and variety for your needs. If you want to take your rose game to the next level, visit the South Texas Botanical Garden to view its lovely rose collection.
A Need-to-Know Basis
Spacing, 1’ to 8’. Height, 1’ to 12’. Spacing varies by variety. Plant in February in full sun in extremely well-drained soil. Add copious compost to soil when planting, with several cups crushed oyster shells for calcium. Fertilize with pastured poultry manure when planting, then again with several cups around base after first blooms. Roses require lots of water; once per week in cool weather and twice per week in summer. Compost with native leaf mulch.
Take cut flowers as desired throughout the year. Prune in February. For most roses, minimal pruning is required—simply trim the dead parts of the stems and any branches that cross. Prune hybrids more heavily, up to one-third of the plant, to stimulate new growth. For climbing roses, do not prune for several years, then only to train along trellis. Rose plants can live up to 30 years if treated well.
Roses are a favorite for so many due to their long-lasting showing and simplicity. They are a perfect fit for any sentiment when ordering through your local florist. However, for the do-it-yourselfers, they can be a quick and easy arrangement. I would suggest using 12-14″ single stem roses for a small 4-5″ vase. Cut the roses about 2″ taller than the vase before inserting. Tip: to keep roses fresh for days, snip the ends at an angle and change out the water daily.
– Tyra Craig, Owner of Golden Petal Florist @goldenpetalcc
The first hybrid rose, named “La France” by nurseryman Jean-Baptiste Guillot, appeared in 1867. All modern hybrid roses come from this legendary plant. However, La France was a complete accident. Some random seeds had fallen into the soil and sprouted this new hybrid. Guillot knew he had something special and presented La France to the world. Since 1867, thousands of pages have been written by rose experts trying to determine the parents of La France.