Rose Cuttings by Connie Hilker

The Klassy Way to Root Roses (Presented by Connie Hilker, adapted from a method by Diana Klassy.)

Connie was our guest speaker for the 2019 ROSEFEST. She taught us and inspired us!

This is one of many ways to propagate roses and other plants from cuttings. It is simple to learn, and it uses materials that you may already have on hand.


  • Half-gallon milk jug
  • Clear 2-liter soda bottle
  • Food-quality potting media
  • Rooting hormone
  • Pruners
  • Sharp knife
  • Patience!

This method uses the bottom of the milk jug as a pot, and the top of the soda bottle to form a greenhouse.

Cut large drainage holes in the bottom of the milk jug.
Fill the milk jug with moist potting media. Water thoroughly and let drain.

The best rose cutting is a stem with a dead flower on it, with four to six sets of leaves. If possible, get the heel wood where the cutting emerges from the main cane. If you cannot get a heel, cut below a leaf bud. Remove all but the top two or three sets of leaves.

With the sharp knife, score the end of the cutting on two or three sides … cutting only through the outer layer.

Dip scored cutting into rooting hormone. (dampen cutting if using powdered hormone) Make a hole in the potting media, insert the cutting, water thoroughly.
Cover the cutting with the soda bottle top.

Place your container in a protected location … outside, place it the shade (under a bush is a good place); inside, in a window with bright indirect light. No direct sunshine at this point, or the container will overheat and your cutting will die. There should be no need to water your cutting … condensation inside the soda bottle is a good indication that the cutting has sufficient moisture.

Cuttings can produce roots in as soon as four weeks, or as many as eight, ten, or more weeks. Since roots are visible through the translucent milk jug, there is no need to pull cuttings to check their progress. Remove any leaves that fall … the cutting can still root without leaves. As long as the stem is green, the cutting is alive.

When the cutting is showing strong roots, and starts to sprout new leaves, begin to harden off your new rose by removing the screw top of the soda bottle. After a week or two, remove the soda bottle completely and begin to gradually move your rose to a sunnier environment.

Will the Real Seven Sisters Please Stand Up

-Linda Kimmel
Indianapolis Rose Society

There is some confusion about the Seven Sisters Rose, as there are several different roses by the same name. has six different varieties listed. Can we get some clarity?

A Bit of History…

‘Seven Sisters’ is believed to be an old Chinese garden rose which was introduced from Japan to England by Charles Greville in the early 1800s. John Loudon (England), a most influential horticultural nurseryman and journalist of his time, wrote (1844): “The variety of the color produced by the buds at first opening was not less astonishing than their number. White, light blush, deeper blush, light red, darker red, scarlet and purple flowers, all appear in the same corymb, and the production of these seven colors at once is said to the be the reason why this rose is known as the Seven Sisters Rose.”

According to Charles Quest-Ritson, author of “Climbing Roses of the World”, writes “the clone currently in cultivation was likely grown from seeds imported from Japan and acquired by Phillipe Noisette, a London market gardener. Brent Dickerson, author of “The Old Garden Rose Advisor”, writes about R. multiflora ‘Polyantha’, also grown from seeds imported from Japan that “It is evidently quite variable, and the small number of seeding it has given us have sometimes differed from the type so much that none of the characteristics of the original are preserved.” So, is it safe to assume that seedlings of the ‘Seven Sisters’ roses, also R. multiflora, acquired from Japan may have varied in breeding lines and traits? Once the ‘Seven Sisters’ rose was introduced (1815), it took a few years for it to gain in popularity, but eventually in the mid-century, rose sales started to take off. As the public demand exceeded the supply, nurseries started selling knock-off versions of ‘Seven Sisters’, creating even more confusion.

Characteristics (common to the real ‘Seven Sisters’)

‘Seven Sisters’ is a medium pink blend Hybrid Multiflora, once-blooming in the spring or early summer, born in large clusters, with individual flowers being less than 2-inches. Height can reach 10 to 20-ft and can get 10-ft wide. Hardy from zones 4b to 9b but tends to be shorter and smaller in colder zones. ‘Seven Sisters’ is not picky, it will grow well in dry or wet, acid or alkaline soil. Prefers full sun but can tolerate some light shade. Being hardy and disease resistant, as well as easy to propagate, ‘Seven Sisters’ is an ideal rose to grow and share with your friends and rose enthusiast. After all these years, ‘Seven Sisters’ is still an intensely popular rose in the landscape.

‘Seven Sisters’ is the ARS approved registration name. Alternative cultivar names may include: ‘Grevillei’, Grevilli major’, ‘Oizimei’, ‘Rosier Multiflore a Grandes Feuilles’, Rosa thoryi, Rose multiflora f. platyphylla. Most American rose nurseries sell this version as the real ‘Seven Sisters’, so ladies, please standup.

Alias Seven Sisters includes (but not limited to): ‘Red Seven Sisters’ (not registered) and Félicité-Perpétue (HSem).

‘Seven Sisters’ is comfortable on an old farm fence or a formal rose bed. Regardless of where ‘Seven Sisters’ is planted, it will bring you happiness for years. Photo reprinted with permission from Jonquil Junction (Arkansas).

Labeled ‘Seven Sisters’, most likely the “Red” version.  ‘Red Seven Sisters’ is a found rose, hybrid multiflora, once-blooming, hardy zone 6b to 8. Growth habit is similar. Reprinted with permission by Rich Baer, photo taken at a Llama farm in Washington State.

‘Seven Sisters’ Félicité-Perpétue (Hybrid Sempervirens) was hybridized by Antoine Jacques (French breeder) in 1827. This ‘Seven Sisters’ is white or near white with a blush of pink. Its growth, habit, bloom and form are similar to her medium pink counterpart. Hardy between 6b and 10b.Reprinted with permission by Lee Tomlinson, photo taken at San Jose Historic Rose Garden.

Member Profile: Nick Stanley

My Rose Adventure

Nick and Anne Stanley

When your father and grand father were both florists and/or growers, you already have a heritage to follow.

I didn’t really start down that path till around 1997. A friend of ours was growing 30-35 roses down in the Center Grove area and I started observing her in the care she took of her roses.

The next spring I built a raised bed on the north side of our house and started with 16 roses. The north side is not the ideal location but it was all that I had available. I had a friend show me how to construct the raised beds out of treated 4 X 6’s, I brought in some good top soil, and away I went.


A year later 3.5 acres across the street became available. I started the development on that property by building six, 27’ X 6’ raised beds holding 18 roses in each.

Around this time, I joined the Indianapolis Rose Society and they started showing me how to care for and graft new roses. John Hefner and Mark Nolen were tremendous mentors to me.

I then had the rose house built followed by the 16’ X 32’ barn. One of the smarter things I purchased was a golf cart that made trips back to the rose house much easier. Shortly after that I built five more raised beds on the west side of the rose house. It was also about this time that I installed irrigation for the rose beds and grass area around the rose house.

My next project was cutting back the thicket along the Buck Creek directly south of the rose house. We cut down 25-30 trees, and probably 75-100 shrubs. This is where the gazebo now stands.


Shortly afterwards we thinned out the “thicket” behind the rose house and developed walking paths and beds for hostas and other shade plants. A few years later I bought a small Kubota tractor with a frontend loader, and a used Dixie Chopper to cut grass. That required a garage and more beds around the building. The tractor was one of my smartest purchases.

It seems like one project leads to another over the years. I could not have done all of this without the assistance of Francisco Posadas the past 18 years. I’m now trying to cut back beds to help me and my ageing body as I get older. I’ve spent endless hours over the years, but it was truly a labor of love. Now, to sit back with my wife Anne and enjoy it all.

Virginia Bischoff, the Rose Whisperer

-Linda Kimmel

I would like to introduce my good friend and mentor, Virginia Bischoff. Virginia has been an Indianapolis Rose Society member since 1953, 63 years! September 17th, she celebrated her 96th birthday. Happy Birthday, Virginia!


Virginia at a recent rose society meeting. We are all so honored to know her!

I first met Virginia at the Flower and Patio show at the Indianapolis fairgrounds in the spring of 1991. She had already been a rose society member for nearly 40 years. She was working the Rose Society booth. At the time, I had twelve roses and thought I was a big time rose grower. I stopped and chatted with her. I remember thinking, “that woman knows what I need to know.”  I had been checking out and reading rose books from the local library for information, but there is nothing like talking to a real person that lives in your locale. I took the membership application form and purchased a “Successful Rose Growing in Indiana” booklet ($3.00).  Not sure how I managed it, but I promptly lost the membership application before I got home. I had no idea how to reach the Indianapolis Rose Society. I waited a full year and went back to the Flower and Patio show, specifically to meet Virginia again. I thought my chances were pretty slim, like lightening striking twice, of finding her. But low and behold, she was standing behind the Indianapolis Rose Society booth talking to attendees. The booth was busy with information seekers and I couldn’t get all my questions answered. So this time, I took a membership application and managed to complete it and joined up. Virginia and I became instant friends. I loved to ask questions and she loved to talk about rose growing.  Once, she leaned over to me and whispered, “the secret is in soil.” I have never forgotten that important tidbit of information, because “THE SECRET IS IN THE SOIL.”  To have a great rose garden, the soil must be great. Take care of your soil and your roses will flourish.

After buying a tank sprayer on wheels (not a good Mantis but a less expensive version), a high-maintenance piece of equipment, it seemed something was always broken. As I whined on the phone about my broken sprayer, wasted money and the two weeks wait for a replacement part, Virginia said, “are you going to be home for a few minutes?” “Yes”, I replied. “I’ll be right there”, she said. In about half-hour, Virginia and Francis showed up at my house with an Atomist sprayer. “Here you go, use it as long as you need it,” Virginia offered. I loved that sprayer, minus the long extension cord it required. It was certainly economical on chemicals, requiring half of what I was using. What a kind and helpful gesture from the Bischoffs.

The first American Rose Society National Rose Show and Conference that I attended was in Shreveport, LA (1993), Virginia introduced me to everyone she knew, saying “this is a good one, she is a keeper.”  I was so green, I didn’t know how to read a show schedule, but Virginia saw something in me that was worthwhile.

I was invited to Francis and Virginia’s house many times to look at their roses, talk roses and to observe Francis’s hybridizing program. Francis kept a meticulous log of his rose crosses, focusing on miniatures. When the time was right, Francis would harvest the hips, store the seeds in a refrigerator and then plant the rose seed under artificial lights in his basement during the winter months. I remember looking at several flats of rose seedlings, growing under lights during February and March. What a fabulous site, a few were showing buds and some were blooming!

Francis had six miniature roses that were commercialized and marketed:

‘Ginny’ (1981), was named for Virginia.  It had good exhibition form, as did all of Francis’ marketed roses. ‘Ginny’ was classed as a red and white blend with 45 petals; I remember it as a white with vivid red edges and high pointed center. The cross was ‘Little Darling’ x ‘Toy Clown.’

‘Sadler’ (1983). Virginia said a man gave Francis a $100. to name a rose after him and the rose now bears his last name. The ‘Sadler’ rose is orange-pink with good exhibition form and 43 petals. It was a cross between ‘Fabergé’ (floribunda, Boerner, 1969) x ‘Darling Flame.’

‘Penny Annie’ (1983) was named after Dr. Lyle’s bulldog. It is light pink with 35 petals and classic hybrid tea bloom form.  It is a cross between ‘Little Darling’ x Unnamed seedling.

‘Marty’s Triumph’ (1985) was named after a rose friend, who was battling cancer. It was to signify Marty’s triumph over cancer. The rose is Orange-pink with a mild fragrance. It is a small, double (17-25 petals), flat bloom form. It was described as “a new and distinct variety of miniature rose plant, characterized by bright coral pink buds and blooms with pale pink reverse. It is a vigorous, compact plant with abundant glossy green foliage.” It is a cross between ‘Little Darling’ x Unnamed seedling.

‘JuJu’ (1996) is named after Jack Walter’s (Kimbrew-Walters Roses) grand-daughter. It is red blend with medium-full (26-40 petals) hybrid tea bloom form. It is a cross of ‘Little Darling’ X ‘Black Jade’ (miniature, Bernadella 1985).

‘Lida O’ (1997) is named after Virginia’s mother. It is classed as “yellow”, but I remember it being a creamy pale yellow. Again, it has great exhibition form. I won the best mini rose bowl with a ‘Lido O,’ back in the day when our rose shows were held in the gymnasium at St. Luke United Methodist Church. “Lida O” is a cross of ‘Party Girl’ x ‘Miss Dovey’. Incidentally, ‘Party Girl’ was hybridized by Harm Saville in 1997 and was named after Jan Shivers, a longtime member of the Indianapolis Rose Society.

There were many miniature roses that Francis deemed not worthy because they were too big to be miniatures and too small to be floribundas. Ben Williams, a rose nurseryman, was having the same experience. Ben saw a future for these oversized miniature roses and trademarked the name “Mini-Flora” (1977). Williams offered the name to the American Rose society but was turned down. 22 years later, the American Rose Society accepted the Mini-Flora trademark as a gift; and, the miniflora rose was established as a formal classification of a new type of modern roses (1999). The spelling was changed from Mini-Flora to miniflora to match grandiflora, etc. I only wish that we had some of those beautiful roses that Francis discarded because they were too big for the miniature classification of the day.

Virginia said, “Francis was the hybridizer.” “I liked to exhibit.” Virginia won Queen of the Show at Columbus, OH, 1974, with ‘Uncle Joe’. It was her first and only national queen. ‘Uncle Joe is a dark red beauty with strong fragrance. It was hybridized in 1972 and is a strong contender on the rose show table still today. Displaying nearly 80 petals, ‘Uncle Joe’ has a very large, globular bloom that takes its own sweet time opening.

Virginia served as IL-IN District director for a total of seven years (1976-1983). She finished out a year for a director that became ill, then served two, 3-year terms (6 years). She has fond memories of being the District Director, chuckling “they teased me all the time.” Virginia received the Silver Honor Medal (1973), and Francis received the Silver Honor in 1984. Virginia also received the Outstanding Consulting Rosarian from the District in 1984. At the local level, Virginia served as Indianapolis Rose Society President in 1969 and 1971. Both Virginia and Francis received the Award of Honor (preceded the Bronze Medal) from the Indianapolis Rose Society.

Thank you, Virginia, for being my Rose Whisperer, for whispering rose secrets over the years. I will never match all of your accomplishments in the rose world, but I’m definitely a better rose grower with your friendship and mentoring.


2016 Programs

We have a wonderful line up of meetings for 2016. See list below…

GUESTS: These meetings are open to the public so come and join the rosey fun.




TUES, MARCH 8, 6:30 pm 

Sullivan Munce Center / 205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville

Welcome & Announcements: Linda Kimmel, President

Roll  Call: Teresa Byington, VP

2016 Program Highlights: Humberto DeLuca

Intro Board and Rosefest: Teresa Byington

Program: Mark Nolen / Spring Care & Pruning

Roundtable: John Hefner / 2015 Rose Experiences

Door Prizes/Raffle


TUES, APRIL 12, 6:30 pm 

Sullivan Munce Center / 205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville

Welcome & Announcements: Linda Kimmel, President

Roll Call: Teresa Byington, VP
Roll Call: Your Favorite Rose Garden Book

Mini Program: Monica Taylor / Growing Roses in Containers

Mini Program: Teresa Byington / Rose Companions

Roundtable: John Hefner /  Chemicals & Midge Controls

Door Prizes/Raffle


TUE, MAY 10, 6:30 pm  

Sullivan Munce Center  /  205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville

Welcome & Announcements: Linda Kimmel, President

Program: Dr. Mark Windham / University of Tennessee     

Rose Rosette Disease and Other Major Rose Issues

Roundtable: John Hefner / Fertilizer and Soil Amendments

Door Prizes/Raffle


SAT, JUNE 11, 9:30 am-5pm


Details here.

Hamilton County Fairgrounds

2003 Pleasant St, Noblesville, IN


RSVP only (see info below)

Mark & Cathy Nolen’s home

7457 Donegal Lane

Indianapolis, IN 46217-5478

RSVP: 317-859-4142

Pitch-in: Bring your favorite wine and a hearty appetizer.


TUES, AUGUST 9, 6:30 pm

Sullivan Munce Center  /  205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville

Welcome & Announcements: Linda Kimmel, President

Roll Call: Teresa Byington, VP

Mini Program: Carol Tumbas / Rose Fragrance

Mini Program: Edible Roses

Roundtable: Humberto DeLuca / Diseases this Season and How to Deal With Them

Door Prizes/Raffle



Sullivan Munce Center  /  205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville

Welcome & Announcements: Linda Kimmel, President

Roll Call: Teresa Byington, VP

Program: Eloisa Garza / Prison Garden Program

Roundtable: John Hefner / Fall Care & Winterizing / pH Soil Testing

Everyone who wants a soil test, bring a cup of soil in a non-metal container.

Door Prizes/Raffle


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 6:30 pm 

Sullivan Munce Center  /  205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville

Welcome & Announcements: Linda Kimmel, President

Roll Call: Teresa Byington, VP

Program: Diane Brueckman / The Future of Roses

Roundtable: Humberto DeLuca / 2016 Successes & Failures

Door Prizes/Raffle

Rosefest 2016: Timeless beauty for today’s gardens

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Indianapolis Rose Society invites you to a day filled with roses!

June 11 / 9:30 am – 5 pm
Hamilton County Fairgrounds
2003 Pleasant Street / Noblesville, IN

CONTACT: Monica Taylor at or 317.514.7284

Schedule for the day…

  • Tea in the HCMGA Rose Garden: 9:30 -11:30 am (Free)
    • Sponsored by the Hamilton Country Master Gardener Association.
  • Rose Display in Exhibition Center opens at 10:30 am (Free)
    • Public is invited to judge the rose displays.
  • Lectures 12:30 – 4 pm ($10) (Tickets required)
    • $10 ticket – entrance to all three lectures! Limited seating for lectures. (Tickets will go fast… let us know if you want them, here or contact Monica @
  • Rose display winners announced at 4 pm.

Speakers … 

Take a look at this rose dream team…

Peggy Martin of New Orleans, LA
12:30 – 1:30 pm | Program: Old Garden Roses
Peggy is the VP of the Heritage Rose Foundation and owner of the original Peggy Martin Rose, the rose that survived Hurricane Katrina.

Carol Tumbas of Bloomington, IN
1:45 – 2:45 pm | Program: Hardy, Sustainable Shrub Roses
Carol is the former President of the Indianapolis Rose Society, a well respected rosarian and grower of more than 500 roses.

Gaye Hammond of Houston, TX
3 – 4 pm | Program: Earth-Kind Roses
Gaye is a noted expert of the Texas A & M Earth-Kind Program and lectures nationwide about growing roses in no spray conditions.

Additional Information

  • Roses and rose products will be available for purchase.
  • Roses and rose arrangements from member’s garden will be on display.
  • The public is invited to judge displays.
  • There will be educational resources on roses and rose culture.
  • Download flyer here.   



CONTACT: Monica Taylor at or 317.514.7284

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2016 Message from the President: Linda Kimmel

The Indianapolis Rose Society board of directors welcomes you to new year in roses. It promises to be a full, busy and satisfying year. We challenge you to bring a friend to every meeting! 


Humberto DeLuca, Program Chair (2nd Vice President), has been working hard, along with the input from all of the board, to outline a great year in programs and events. Most programs will have two mini-programs and a round table discussion. John Hefner is taking the lead on many round table discussions.

Expect an outstanding program about Rose Rosette from Dr. Mark Windham, University of Tennessee. Mark could do standup comedy; he is that funny. He is also that educational! You will learn about the newest research on how to combat and prevent the dreaded Rose Rosette disease. Dr. Windham is an absolute treat. I have heard him speak several times and I never tire of him.

Teresa Byington and Monica Taylor have poured their hearts and souls into the First Annual Rosefest. It will be held at Hamilton County Fairgrounds, Noblesville, in June. There will be a tea, rose show display and educational programs eligible for CR and MG credits. Bring roses for display. Bring yourself to learn from the great lineup of speakers, including the knowledgeable Peggy Martin (Vice President of the Heritage Rose Society), our own Carol Tumbas (past President of the Indianapolis Rose Society) and the charming and dynamic Gaye Hammond (Earth Kind Rose Trials in Texas). This is one fantastic line up! Call it the “dream team” of rose programs. Do not miss out on this exciting new venture.

Donna Hefner has assumed the responsibilities of Treasurer. We know our money is in good hands with Donna! We appreciate her stepping up to take over this very important role. Renee LaFollette has once again, accepted the role as editor. The editor keeps us connected through the newsletter. We thank Renee for her long term commitment. We have a sundry of committee chairs, serving in a lot of different and important capacities. We thank them for taking on these important roles.

In addition to the annual fertilizer program, Mark Nolen is serving as membership chair (new position). He has contacted every single member of the Indianapolis Rose Society, cleaning up our roster and has already recruited a new member. The personal touch helps! Cathy and Mark will be hosting a wine and roses garden tour at their home.

Another big event for 2016 is the Arrangement Judging School & Seminar. It has been over a decade since Indianapolis has hosted such a school. If you have any desire to attend, whether just to learn or to become a judge, please let me know. We would love to fill the room!

Diane and Roger Brueckman (Roger is the IL-IN District Director), will be visiting in the fall. The Brueckmans’ are a lovey couple. You will enjoy their program, personalities and updates on the District/ARS business.

Let us share the year 2016…. share the joy, share the love, share the friendships and share your roses. We are going to have fun and it will be more fun if you are there.

Linda Kimmel, President


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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We wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day filled with love and roses.

We also want to invite you to join us for the first meeting of the 2016 rose year!

LOCATION: SullivanMunce Center
205 W Hawthorne St / Zionsville


  • Welcome and year overview: Linda Kimmel / President
  • Monthly program details: Humberto DeLuca / 2nd VP
  • Introduction to Rosefest 2016: Teresa Byington / VP
  • Program: Spring Care & Pruning: Mark Nolen
  • Roundtable Discussion / Recount 2015 Rose Experiences: John Hefner / Facilitator
  • Door Prizes/Raffle

We have so many exciting events coming up that we are excited to share with you.

Can you keep a secret??? One of our events is a Wine and Roses Party in a most beautiful rose garden of one of our members. Can you guess who?

It is no secret that we hope you will join us. It won’t be the same without YOU!

No More Rose Divas … by Linda Kimmel

13JulyMW_W2-A_7The rose, queen of all flowers, has a rather haughty reputation: difficult to grow, prone to diseases and pests, and dies after a few years. There are still a few divas around, but many rose varieties are not obstinate or impossible to grow.

In the words of Peter Schneider, author of Right Rose, Right Place, “If you can grow a marigold, you can grow a rose.”

The rose is one of the most decorative and adaptable of all flowers. Today’s roses have a wide variety of brilliant colors, repeat bloom cycles, various shapes, luscious fragrances, disease and pest resistance and winter-hardy characteristics. Why waste time humoring and pampering a few rose divas? There are just too many good rose varieties on the market to waste time and money on the frail and demanding.

Busy gardeners with busy lifestyles demand low-maintenance roses. As much as we love our gardens, there is simply less time for spraying, pruning and laboring in the garden. We want the garden to be a beautiful, tranquil place to visit, not a place that enslaves us with work, and ultimately frustration. You can have a beautiful rose garden without the fuss. There are many rose cultivars that require simple, routine garden care. Rose hybridizers, such as Dr. Griffith Buck (in Iowa) and Kordes Söhne (in Germany) had the foresight to recognize the changing times in the rose industry, hybridizing roses with the fabulous low-maintenance characteristics we desire.

The sensational hit, the Knock Out™ rose (R. ‘RADrazz’) (introduced in 2000), and the Knock Out™ family of roses Pink (Rosa ‘RADcon’), Rainbow (R. ‘RADcor’), Sunny (R. ‘RADsunny’) and Blushing (R. ‘RADyod’), hybridized by William Radler (in Wisconsin), have been the most successful family of roses on the market in years. These roses are great, no doubt. Nevertheless, I have grown a little bored with them — small, single blooms (with four to five petals) and no fragrance. Beyond Knock Out™ roses, Bill Radler’s hybridizing program is evolving; he is producing some new fantastic roses with heavier petal counts, strong fragrance and the hardiness of the Knock Out family.


Golden Fairy Tale…

The dark green glossy foliage of Golden Fairy Tale™ (R. ‘KORquelda’) provides a lovely backdrop for the bright yellow sprays of blooms. Supports or cages can be helpful in supporting the canes, keeping the sprays upright and showy.

The Fairy Tale™ family of roses are the new kids in the garden, but splashed on the scene like rock stars. They are hybridized by Kordes Söhne of Germany, and described on their website as “charmingly robust” as well as “new, enchanting  varieties with charisma and charm.” Although some retail  nurseries could be accused of fiction writing when describing their roses, this description accurately portrays these lovely romantic-looking roses.

There is so much to offer your garden palette: brilliant colors, bi-colors, blends, full and heavy blooms with countless petals, and that “to die for” fragrance. Wonderful heady rose perfume wafting in the air adds that extra delicious dimension to your garden experience.

Growing Roses: Tips for Success

A mix of Old Garden Roses and shrubs, including ‘Pink Grootendorst’ (left), apothecary’s rose (R. gallica officinalis) (front-center) and ‘F.J. Grootendorst’ surround the entrance with a welcoming fragrance.

A mix of Old Garden Roses and shrubs, including ‘Pink Grootendorst’ (left), apothecary’s rose (R. gallica officinalis) (front-center) and ‘F.J. Grootendorst’ surround the entrance with a welcoming fragrance.

Do your homework. Choose a foolproof rose to start. Select a plant that has the size and shape that works best for your area of the garden. That may seem obvious, but some of my worst mistakes have been choosing a large rose for a small space or vice versa. Choose a great location. Roses like morning sun. Give your roses at least eight hours of sun daily. Although some roses will tolerate light shade or dappled light, most do better in full sun; plants are bigger, stronger, healthier and more floriferous with plentiful sunlight. Six hours of sun may be sufficient in areas of more intense summer heat.

Roses like fresh air. Give your roses enough space to grow to their full potential and to allow good airflow through the foliage. Good air circulation prevents diseases that thrive in moist environments, such as black spot and powdery mildew.

Choose own-root roses. Own-root roses are grown by slips or leaf cuttings of the desired variety. For best selection of varieties, own-root roses may need to be purchased via mail-order, and will arrive in small banded containers or liners. Although they will appear disappointingly small and scrawny to start, own-root roses will catch up quickly with their budded counterparts, and are more winter hardy and vigorous. The aboveground portion of the rose can die back completely in winter; new spring growth from the root will be true to the variety. Besides winter hardiness, the roses tend to be healthier and develop into fuller shapelier bushes. Bud unions of grafted roses can be vulnerable and easily damaged by a cold winter, and often require protection to survive. Suckers are often undesirable growth from the rootstock and should be removed.

Planting own-root roses is similar to planting any other container grown plant. Keep the soil and roots intact, and plant about 1/2 inch deeper than it is in the container. For a banded-size rose, the hole needs to be about 10 inches by 12 inches deep. Use native soil and mix in a little organic matter in the bottom of the hole, such as bonemeal, rock phosphate or bulb booster. Because the surrounding soil has microorganisms and microfauna maintained in a delicate balance, there is no reason to disturb it.

Check the pH. Depending on your  soil type, you may need to make some minor pH adjustments. The soil should be slightly acidic. An acceptable pH range is 6.0 to 6.9, with 6.5 being ideal. How do  you know the soil pH? Test it with an inexpensive meter, or through your local extension office.

No fertilizer in the first year. During the second and subsequent years, you may mix organic fertilizers into the topsoil surrounding the rose bush. Apply twice yearly, once in the spring and again midsummer. In addition, a general all-purpose fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer, such as 12-12-12 may be applied. No special fertilizer is necessary; buy whatever is on sale at your local nursery or hardware store, and use sparingly.

Hate to spray? Spraying roses is my least favorite job in the garden. Some rose varieties are much more prone to fungal diseases, so start with disease-resistant varieties, and skip the spray routine. Be willing to tolerate a small degree of pests or diseases. Skip the insecticides altogether. Encourage beneficial insects and birds to help maintain a balanced ecosystem. Good horticultural practices (such as plenty of sun, fresh air, applying mulch, stripping lower leaves from the bush, watering in the morning and keeping the garden clean of debris) all prevent diseases.

A mix of roses and perennials in various shades of pink makes a striking border.

A mix of roses and perennials in various shades of pink makes a striking border.

A mix of roses and perennials…

Plant companion plants. A monoculture, or concentration of roses, allows pests and diseases to multiple rapidly. A mixed culture of roses and companion plants is beautiful, as well as helpful preventing disease and insect problems.

Prune established roses in the spring. Remove any dead wood. Shape plant as desired.

Deadhead. Removing spent blooms will encourage reblooming. Stop deadheading in late summer or early fall, allowing plants to harden off for winter.

Apply mulch. Organic mulch helps to prevent weeds, conserves moisture, improves the fertility and conditioning of the soil and provides winter protection for the roots. It also helps to inhibit soil-borne diseases by preventing fungal spores from splashing onto the plant during watering. Plus, mulch just looks pretty, adding that finished, elegant look to the garden.

Top 10 Low-Maintenance Roses

There are literally hundreds of great rose cultivars — making a “Top 10 List” is difficult. I will only recommend roses that I have had firsthand, personal experience growing. Every rose grower could create their own “Top 10 List,” with an endless mix of varieties, depending upon the microclimates of your garden, preferences, likes and dislikes. Below are just a few of my favorite low-maintenance roses. All of the roses listed are repeat bloomers, disease resistant, winter hardy and most are fragrant.

  1. Quietness has lovely blushing-pink blooms, is heavily petaled and has a sweet fragrance.
  2. Sombreuil has creamy white blooms with many petals and an intoxicating scent.
  3. Golden Fairy Tale has blooms that are bright yellow with pink edging and is deliciously fragrant.
  4. Lion’s Fairy Tale has blooms that are light apricot-pinkish in color, fully double and sweetly fragrant.
  5. Carmella Fairy Tale displays striking apricot-colored blooms with a mild scent.
  6. Orchid Romance is very heavily petaled (up to 75 petals) with a button eye reminiscent of Old Garden Roses. Blooms are pink with lavender undertones and give off a strong fragrance.
  7. Dainty Bess is the only hybrid tea to make the list, with four to eight light-pink petals with maroon  stamens and a spicy fragrance.
  8. Carefree Spirit shows off with scarlet single blooms, which have a white throat and vivid yellow stamens. It is a blooming machine.
  9. Peggy Martin is a large-flowering climber that needs a lot of room to spread; it is best covering a fence  or large trellis.
  10. Colette is an apricot-pink large-flowering climber, with very full double blooms that are quartered and emit a strong tea fragrance.

13JulyMW_W2-A_4‘Sombreuil’ was originally hybridized in 1880, and introduced in the U.S. in 1959 as a “climbing tea,” but reclassed by ARS in 2006 as a large-flowering climber. In my garden, ‘Sombreuil’ grows more like a large shrub, reaching a height of 5 to 6 feet. It’s creamy white blooms repeat all summer long, with an intoxicating fragrance.

‘Orchid Romance’ rose

13JulyMW_W2-A_6‘Dainty Bess’ was introduced in 1925, and is still going strong in the rose market. Blooms are unusual and beautiful, typically 4 to 5 inches across. The shrub blooms in prolific sprays, all the while flaunting a mild, yet spicy fragrance. The bush is upright, grows to 3 to 4 feet in height with green leathery foliage.

Carefree Spirit (R. ‘MElzmea’) is a blooming machine, a great landscape shurb that grows about 4 to 5 feet in height and 4 feet wide. Dark green glossy foliage provides a backdrop for large scarlet sprays.

Article from State-by-State Gardening May/June 2013. Photos by Linda Kimmel.

Originally appeared in the May/June 2013 midwest editions of State By State Gardening Magazines. Reprinted with permission of State by State Gardening Magazines, which publishes 19 different state and regional magazines in the South and Midwest. (