Looking for part one, here it is.
Where to purchase roses? What kind of roses to purchase? These are two excellent questions for the Utah gardener. Let’s focus on where today:
I feel I have tried it all, independent nurseries, big box home improvement stores, body bags from Walmart, body bags from big box stores, mail-order bare root roses from David Austin, mail-order rooted cutting from High Country Roses and Heirloom Roses, old roses purchased from Red Butte Garden… I could go on but that might actually be it!
Spoiler alert: don’t pick up anything that doesn’t come from an independent nursery and even then…
I will start with the cheapest, most tempting options and move on from there.
Body bags, aka bare root roses from the supermarket ($7-$15). I experimented this spring with four of those which I planted early in my little green house in tall David Austin pots with the required fluffy potting mix. Two Coral Dawn, one Heirloom and one Livin’Easy. I regret to inform you that they all ended up on the compost heap. Why? Failure to thrive was not the only problem. I will content that this really was a case of “I told you so” because all but one of these shrubs came with Mosaic Rose Virus. Therefore, learn from my mistakes, a ten foot pole might not be enough to keep these so-called roses away.
Big box stores: 1 gallon to 5 gallons containers, sometimes labeled by name, sometimes labeled ‘rose”. I am not a rose snob so I won’t be making big statements against big box stores but I will tell you this: When it comes to roses, stick with Lowes. It sort of rhymes which might help us remember this crucial piece of advice. Of the four Home Depot roses that were gifted to me by one of my son’s teachers, none survived past year 2 and all of them looked sad. Some also were afflicted by the MRV. Lowes was a mixed bag. With more water most of the Lowes roses might have had a chance. At this point I have three Moondance roses and one Rugosa from Lowes. I am leaving them be…
Mail order roses:($15-$25 plus S&H) These come in two flavors; bare root or very small rooted cutting. From my small but intense experience I can only recommend bare root roses (I tried David Austin). Bare root roses from DA are an excellent way to acquire larger amounts of roses to set up a new rose garden. The roses you receive, own root or grafted are good through and through and if they are not DA will most likely replace them. It is easier to obtain own-root plants through mail order as well. Rooted Cuttings on the other end are a mixed bag. Utah is too hot and too dry for such puny plants. The season is too short for the plants to reach critical mass by the fall and you find yourself with a quart size plant depending on you all winter. For some that sounds fun, not so much for me. The worst part? They are not actually saving you much money once you factor in the shipping charges. Why then might anyone want to buy such plants from High Country Roses or Heirloom Roses? Incredible selection, for collectors these 2 stores are an essential resource when looking for specific plants.
Quart sized roses: ($9-$15) You may find those very small roses at Home Depot covered in bee -killing chemicals, walk away. You may also find very interesting, rare, old, climate appropriate quart size roses at the Red Butte Garden spring sale. These roses come from High Country Roses in Colorado. Since you are able to assess the quality/size of the plant you can make an informed decision. I bought three roses at the sale. A Canadian Explorer rose, Barronne Prevost and Madame Plantier. I am very happy with the last two (so far), the first I gave to a friend . I do not plan on buying such small plants ever again though, but that’s just me.
Container Roses from an independent nursery: $25-$40. Here is your best bet for success. You get fantastic options, help from the staff and you can return the plants that do poorly (I have many times). … Just remember, don’t buy too early as everything on the nursery floor was a bare root rose in February-March of that year. All my show stoppers came from Western Gardens but I also enjoy Millcreek gardens and Glover nursery.
Next time: what rose to choose for your Utah garden-