Roses in the desert?

Bonnie Nowicki, Quail Creek resident
Everything’s coming up roses. Some of our Quail Creek neighbors are growing pretty amazing roses. Perhaps you are not aware that growing roses in the low desert is actually easier than in other temperate climates. An added bonus is less disease and fewer insects. Roses provide beautiful color during October through June. The hot summer only slows down the flower size.
I wish to focus on container grown, repeat blooming, “Old Garden Roses” (Chinas, noisettes and teas). Most are propagated from cuttings, a real plus, as opposed to being grafted onto another variety of rootstock. Old Garden Roses, also called antique roses, existed before the introduction of the first hybrid tea rose in 1867. They require less maintenance and the average size is 4’x4’ and can be planted any time of the year.
Water container roses two-three times a week in cool weather and daily in hot weather. They require less total fertilizer but need more frequent applications. Small amounts of a slow release fertilizer every six weeks is sufficient. Water thoroughly before and after fertilizing to prevent burn. Roses don’t go dormant in our climate but they need a rest from the hot summer. Removing spent blooms to the first five-leaflet set is a good practice. Ideal pruning time for repeat blooming antique roses is in January but leaves are not stripped from the canes.
Two ‘Old Garden Rose’ suggestions are Madame Hardy, a white, 100 medium-cupped petals, light green leaf upright bush, with a strong rose scent, and Monsier Tillier, an orange-pink, spicy herbal tea, with 50 medium petals, medium green upright bush. Both have very high ratings and when mature both can reach five feet. You may have to order online if they’re hard to find.
Perhaps you’ll want to add a lovely rose bush to your landscaping. Stop by our local U of A Extension Center located at 530 East Whitehouse Canyon Road; a quick ten-minute drive from Quail Creek. The Master Gardeners are eager to show off their beautiful roses and gardens and share their knowledge and answer your questions. Great gardening information handouts and bagged soil, compost and mulch are also available. The center is open from 8:00 a.m. till noon, Monday-Friday. The phone number is 520-648-0808. Take a gardening break and come for a visit.