Roses in the garden

This is the Portland Rose Garden managed by the Portland Rose Society.

Planting a rose in a Colorado garden.

Roses do great in Front Range Colorado, partially due to the dryness of the air which discourages the fungal diseases you see in eastern roses like black spot.  You just need to ensure you have your clays well mixed with organic matter to create space for air and water to get to the rather hungry roses.  I have found that tea roses and other hybridized roses can withstand a good amount of drought as well.  While they may not flower as much as those in a spongey damp, they also attract less Japanese Beetles with their less succulent stems.

Planted in 2021

The roses I’ve chosen this year are from David Austin Roses.  The company founded in the UK, also grows in the US for sale here.  While many Colorado nurseries may carry the roses, I’ve decided to try a bare root mail order.

Claire Austin: This rose will climb the new arbor in the vegetable garden and along the fence.     This along with the Pink Lemonade Honey suckle – It will be a lovely site. Check out the Claire Austin from Gardeners World Climbing rose section. Training this one will be a challenge as climbers have two kinds of shoots.  There is the framework main stems that are tied to the horizontal.  This allows the flower bearing side shoots to grow veritically.  These should be pruned each year back to their first set of leaves in later Autumn.  For information on pruning climbers, Monty Don explains it best.

A light Claire Austin Rose in early June
Claire Austin Rose in early June.

Emily Brontë : This gorgeous shrub rose that will grow to 4′ h x 3.5′ wide, will have the fragrance of an old english rose and will stand next to  a new garden structure if I can talk the hubby into a new arbor at the entrance to the mediterranean garden. For now, the rose will be in a large glazed pot. In Colorado terra cotta pots dry out too quickly.  So you can opt for a glazed pot, fiberglass pot or even a plastic pot from the nursery.  Just be sure both have good drainage holes at their base.

Want to find this goodie?

Emily Bronte – First year 2021, in large plastic pot on the patio.

Planting a bare root rose.

The plants arrived well packed and ready to be set in water. Its important to get them in as soon as you can and allow them to soak for a few hours.

Each of these plants will get a different treatment.  On the very sunny side of the house the Claire will be planted in the mostly clay ground and get some extra water retention with a good dose of compost and organic mulch. A watering line will also be extended to provide drip irrigation to it and the peach tree that is its neighbor.

To plant, make a hole 2x the width of the root mass and at depth that will put the graft union where the roots meet the shoots 1″ below the soil surface.  Dig up some room for composted manure into the hole at the base.

Its also recommended to use mycorrhizal fungus to get the roots established more quickly.

The second plant will be grown in a container for the patio area. I’ve chosen a 10 gallon plastic pot and mulched the surface to retain water. Making sure again the root graft is 1″ below the soil surface. To keep it happy a flower fertilizer one every two weeks during growing season will keep it from getting hungry in the limited soil. I have never over-wintered a rose in a container, but regular winter watering will be a must. Containers dry out extremely fast in Winter.

2005 one of the prettiest blooms in the rose garden.

Other roses in the garden

The rose garden I had has been scattered to the winds. Many never made it past their initial replanting in 2009.  A couple do perform beautifully every year, even in conditions that don’t promote much vigor.

  • Hybrid Tea ‘Peace’ Rose is the only name I know. It sits in a pretty shady spot at the patio raised bed.  It does get watered via drip irrigation and is given a bit of rose food at the beginning of growing season each year.
  • Knockout* brand roses are bred to be absolutely hardy with little input. I have 3 out front that perform admirably.  Though they don’t have fragrance and tend to stay under 2′ tall.
  • The only rose to make it in the new rose bed is the yellow rose I call Cheery.  It will need some love from me this year to give it back some vigor it lost with drought in 2020. I can only guess that it is a form of floribunda.
  • Rosa Glauca – providing a flourish of rose hips and cool blue-green leaves.  This year round beauty is drought hardy. It can be weedy as the hips readily create babies. But rose hip tea is delicious!
  • There is a beautiful pink rose that will need a new home this year as the peach tree has taken over.
  • Many other roses have died back and their stock below the tea hybrid graft grows instead of the hybrid.  Some can be quite pretty!

Types of Roses

Jackson and Perkins defines roses in 3 main types

  • Old Garden – tried and true before 1867 flower once
  • Wild roses – species roses are most often pink, rarely red or white, and seldem yellow. Rosa Glauca
  • Modern Garden Roses – these have long season, abundant flowers, but can be less fragrant and hardy.

Rose Varieties

Species Roses — These are roses that have not be hybridized.

Hybrid Tea Roses –  Long-stemmed with many petals.  Popular and easier to grow.  6-7 week cycle of bloom.  It’s subgroup Grandiflora are clustered blooms of 3 – 5 flowers and continuously blooms like a floribunda. These shrubs are bigger than the regular Hybrid tea.  These roses are also found in miniture form.

Hybrid Musks –  rosa ‘ballerina’ – not scented but huge trusses of flowers.  Individual blooms are single and great for pollinators. Multi-tonal quality where new blooms are deeper pink bud, and fading to white on older flowers.

English Roses:  David Austen Hybridized roses, full blooms with old rose look and longer flowering period and attractive scent.  This is a shrub rose.

Floribunda roses have a continuous bloom and very easy to care for.  They have a large cluster of flowers. Roses similar to this are Polyantha roses which are shorter and smaller blooms.  Long blooming with little maintenance needs.  Miniflora forms are smaller in size but not as small as miniture hybrid teas.

Some other roses hybridized in France, are Bourbon and Centifolia roses.

Bourbon roses first grown in 1817 are a cross between China roses and Damask roses. They have full blooms, in white pink and red.  Very fragrant. Repeat blooms.

Centifolia or Provence roses have a unique bloom in white to pink. Resembling a cabbage or peony, they have tightly overlapping petals.  The roses weigh down the stem creating a drooping appearance.  These roses only bloom in early summer but have a great scent used in perfumes and oils.

China roses came to the west in the late 18th century and are considered part of the new garden rose family.  They are fragrant and colorful.  With yellows and bright reds, soft pinks they delicate petals are showy.  But being delicate they need extra care in winter.  Its recommended they be grown in pots in colder areas and given shelter.  But its a repeat bloomer and disease resistant.

Old Garden Roses

These include Damask and Gallica Roses.

Damask roses date back to biblical times and have 2 varieties.  Summer and Autum.  These are very fragrant and used in oils.  White to deep pink in color.

Gallica Roses date back to the 12th century and are scented like Damask roses.  But they are also used for medicinal purposes as their petals have an anti-bacterial property.  These are very colorful with pinks, purples, reds and striped.  They are more tolerant of lower light and cold. Sometime called the French or Provins rose.

Alba Roses are one of the oldest garden roses dating back to 100 A.D.  These are distinctive with blue-green foliage.  Pink and white blooms appear in late spring and early summer.  One of the easiest to grow, as these are cold hardy and very disesase resistant.  They can also tolerate shade.

Climbers, Ramblers, and Bushes.  Roses are also described by their habit of growing.  Climbers are more structured than the vigorous ramblers.

Pruning Roses

Summer pruning deadheading:  remove spent flowers and 6″ of stem on English roses.

Rambler Rose: I learned today that I may be the cause of my rambler roses to not bloom.  These flower on the long limby stems of new growth in the next year.  So the place to prune is the old wood.

Climbing Rose: Only the side shoots should be pruned annually in Fall.  These can be cut back to the first set of leaves.  The framework shoots can be cut back to the ground if they become overly woody and stop producing side shoots.

Tea Rose:  These can be pruned in dormant season.  Remove all dead wood.

Wishlist Roses

Queen of Denmark plant with clematis integrifolia – ‘Twinkle’ which can be cut back to the ground for new growth.

Queen of Sweden is a lovely David Austen rose.  Gorgeous pinky white from center.  Almost peony like.  Great scent of myhr.  Can be used as a hedging plant, cut flower.

Charles Darwin is a David Austin yellow rose.

Iceberg Floribunda Rose

Problems with Roses

Japanese beetle can make a gorgeous rose bush look awful in only a couple days. They will eat buds, petals, and leaves. Usually not to a point of destroying the plant. But UGLY!

Japanese beetle adults love rose petals

If you have a lawn, treating the larval form of the Japanese beetle in June using GrubGONE! will get rid of the pests before they become adults, and will save your turf from grub damage. There are other grub killing products as well. In my CSU gardening course they said baits do more to attract beetles than trap them. So they are best used in an area that doesn’t have plant beetles like — like a parking lot HA.


Pretty green caterpillars also like rose petals. I just move these over to a plant I’m not as fond of – and they seemed just as happy to munch away on it.


For the most part I do not treat for aphids and just let the lady bugs go to town. When too many aphids appear on my hybrid teas (don’t attract pollinators) I use a combo rose feed and systemic pest control product. I never treat my Glauca roses because they do have pollinators visiting and the systemic treatment can kill anything collecting nectar.

But for the most part roses are quite happy to grow in Colorado as long as you water regularly and give them some feed.


An amateur gardener who loves to watch the garden grow.