Bare-root roses

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It's the time of year to start buying and planting bare-root roses. I love these types of roses, especially because they're easy to grow and inexpensive. Roses add so much to any type of landscape, including beautiful color.

When choosing your roses, purchase them from discount stores, nurseries or even mail order places. Roses come in grades, including 1, 1-½ , and 2. The grades are based on age, 2 being the youngest. I only buy No. 1-grade rose bushes because they are heartier and survive the summer heat better. These are usually 2 to 3 years old, and each rose bush should have at least two to four strong and healthy canes.

Bare-root roses that have spindly canes or roots, or have started to leaf out, will have a lesser chance of survival. Try to make sure the bark on the canes is plump and green, not dry or shriveled. Do not purchase roses that have been dipped in wax, because the wax can cause burns on the rose in the summer.

Some of the best types are as follows:

Don Juan, which is red and blooms in the second year;

Gene Borner: pink, and may be grown as a shrub rose;

Showbiz: red, easy to grow and requires very little work;

Mr. Lincoln: large, red, also easy to grown here in the Valley;

Chrysler Imperial: red, Hybrid Tea type;

Margo Koster: Light-pinkish tone, small rose

Before planting, be sure to soak the rose bush in a bucket of water and a capful of liquid seaweed for 12 to 24 hours. This plumps up the roots and canes.

When choosing the locations to plant them, the east side with morning sun is preferable. Plant each rose bush 3 to 4 feet apart in a location with at least six hours of sun a day.

Dig a hole at least 18 inches deep by 18 inches wide. Fill the hole halfway with water, and make sure it drains out at the rate of at least 1 inch per hour. In the center of the planting hole, add 1 to 2 cups of rock phosphate, 1 cup of soil sulfur, 1 cup of gypsum and ½ cup of bone meal to the bottom of the cone. Mix this in with two shovels of soil and dig into a cone shape. Insert cloves of fresh garlic into the cone to repel insects, near the bottom. Face the bud union to the east. The bud union looks like a knob, or slight swelling at the base of the trunk that shows where the variety was joined to the rootstock.

Next, remove all the packing sawdust and trim any broken roots. Spread the rose's roots over the cone and backfill with 50/50 mix of soil and compost. Keep the bud union about 2 inches above the final grade.

Water slowly and deeply to prevent air pockets and to keep the plant from drying out. If the rose seems to settle too deeply, lift the plant and add more of the 50/50 mix and continue to water. Water at least every other day, for the first two weeks.

I like to protect the canes from drying out by covering them with straw or moist peat moss. I remove these coverings when new growth shows.

Roses love companion plants like garlic, artemisia, day lilies and moss rose. Remember to fertilize regularly with my Extreme Juice; start when the new growth appears.