Home & Garden

Hocus pocus in the rose garden

“Now you see it, now you don’t,” would be an apt description for some roses. The fawned-over flowers disappear in gardens all over Puget Sound from disease, improper care and neglect.

The Tacoma Rose Society says it doesn’t have to be that way.

“The Magic of Roses” is the theme of this year’s annual rose show put on by the century-old club on Saturday inside Jackson Hall on MultiCare’s Tacoma campus. The show is an opportunity for the public to see roses at their best as specimens and in floral arrangements.

The members of the TRS say there’s no sleight of hand needed to grow beautiful roses. But, it helps when you have the combined wisdom of an entire group to guide you. So we asked some members of the society to share their recommendations on rose varieties and growing tips for Puget Sound gardeners.

Master Rosarians Margaret Leisner, Barbara and Bruce Lind, John Moe and Jo Martin, along with consulting rosarian George Heger, reached a consensus on their favorites.

Top roses for the Northwest

Julia Child, Dick Clark, South Africa, Day Breaker, Flower Carpet.

The reddest roses

Veterans Honor, Grand Amore, Liebeszauber, Opening Night, Ingrid Bergman

Top hybrid teas

Elina, Gemini, Savoy Hotel, Love & Peace, Sunset Celebration.

The pinkest roses

Savoy Hotel, Mary Rose, Memorial Day, Andrea Stelzer

Top scented roses

Margaret Merril, Rose de Rescht, Neptune, Double Delight, Sheila’s Perfume.

Top needs of roses

1. Ample water.

2. A rich sandy loam soil with good drainage.

3. A minimum of six hours of sun (morning sun is best).

4. Regular applications of balanced fertilizer if the pH level is correct (6.0 – 6.5).

5. Puget Sound’s climate often requires an annual application of lime, usually in the fall.

Top pruning tips

1. Use sharp bypass pruners and wear gauntlet gloves.

2. Remove any small, crossing or diseased canes to keep the center open for good air circulation.

3. Cut to healthy wood.

4. Sterilize tools between bushes with Lysol spray.

5. Pruning is a year round process. Check the TRS website for pictures on pruning various types of roses and additional information.

Preventive rose health tips

1. Start with healthy, disease resistant plants.

2. Provide good air circulation.

3. Provide regular watering (no overhead watering).

4. Use a preventive spray program.

When disease strikes

1. Blackspot, powdery mildew and rust are the top three diseases affecting roses in the Northwest. They can be treated with a variety of products available at local nurseries or “big box” stores.

2. Always follow the directions on the container. Avoid using insecticides when pollinators are active.

3. Diagnosing diseases can be difficult. The TRS’s consulting rosarians offer their services for free. Names can be found on their website, tacomarosesociety.org. They also provide tips for proper and safe application of sprays.

4. The TRS website also has links to other rose diseases and pests and how to identify and treat them.