Many people think that growing roses is difficult and time consuming. But, the amount of time required can vary from very little to a great deal depending on how many and what type roses you grow. If you wish to grow roses for exhibition in rose shows, then you will likely have many different types and cultvars. This will require a considerable amount of time and effort. But, if you just wish to have some color in your landscape and have a few roses for cutting, you can do so with minimal effort (see "no spray" roses in the TRS Favorites list).
There are many reasons why we grow roses. They include: (1) increasing the beauty of your landscape, (2) having flowers to cut and to give to friends and neighbors, (3) they have a very long blooming season (in East Tennessee from early May to late November), (4) roses are the national flower, (5) roses are perennials and, with some care, will produce for many years, and (6) just the joy of watching them grow and develop in the garden.
Roses have been on earth for several thousand years. The Roman's revered them for their beauty and fragrance. Many of the older roses are classified under the general heading of "Old Garden Roses." Roses developed more recently are referred to as "Modern Roses." For purposes of our local gardens, we think in terms of the following types of roses:
Choosing the roses for your garden from the above types is one of the many pleasures of growing roses.
Planting new roses requires some care to ensure that the rose will perform well for many years. This is covered well for bare root roses in an article available from the American Rose Society website (http://ars.org/About_Roses/planting_bareroot.html).
After your roses have been chosen and planted, they require some maintenence throughout the growing season. These chores include (1) regular watering and fertilizing, (2) deadheading, (3) treatment, as needed, for insect pests and fungus diseases. The most annoying of these is the need to spray for fungus and insect pests in the East Tennessee area. If you really don't want to do this, you should probably limit your choice of roses to those that have the best resistance to fungus disease. A list of the roses that have proved to have outstanding resistance in the Tennessee climate has been provided by researchers at the University of Tennessee. These roses are given in the listing under TRS Favorites on this website. Note, however, that most are shrub roses such as Knockout, Pink Knockout, and Carefree Sunshine. As the growing season ends, it is good to let some blooms form hips rather than deadheading, and then after the first hard freeze cut the bushes back by about one-third, clean out dead wood around the bud union (where the rose is budded to the rootstock), and then add some mulch to cover the bud union for winter protection. This will ensure that the annual spring pruning is relatively easy.
Spring pruning will normally occur in mid-March in East Tennessee. A good indicator is to prune when the forsythia is in bloom. You can see a PowerPoint presentation on pruning by clicking here. There are also several good articles on the web describing the pruning process. For example see http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/roses/prune.html; http://gardening.about.com/od/rose1/a/RosePruning.htm; http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1205.html.
See Growing Tips for more information on pruning.
Growing roses is really not that difficult, and the rewards are worth the time and effort that you put into it. Remember, you decide how involved you need to be in your rose garden by the choices that you make. Good luck and have fun growing, cutting, giving and showing your roses!
For a look at a slide presentation entitled "Roses for the Home Garden" click this link.