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Green Gardening with Heirloom Roses

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

It's not surprising that many green gardening enthusiasts often favor heirloom plants. These plants tend to be hardy and reproduce true to type. Among heirloom plants, roses are particularly popular.

Why Grow Heirlooms?

Heirloom roses are prized for their fragrance and intriguing and colorful blooms. Heirlooms are typically hardy and some can grow in partial shade. Some heirloom roses may naturalize and revert to a wild climbing form. Heirlooms produce flowers in different sizes, and shapes. Depending on variety, they can bloom in clusters, or show off huge fluffy blooms of subtle to bright colors, while others have variegated blooms that can add visual interest to your garden.

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Green Gardening: Caring for Heirloom Roses

You can buy heirloom roses from suppliers who specialize in raising them. Heirloom roses are typically grown from their own roots, which mean they are not grafted on to another plant. This traditionally promotes hardiness and resistance to disease. Most likely, your supplier should include planting and care instructions with your heirlooms.

Roses should be seated on a mound of dirt at the bottom of a hole deep enough to allow coverage to a point below where branches first appear on the trunk. It's also a good idea to know your USDA hardiness zone, so you can tailor rose care to your climate. Roses usually prefer a slightly acidic, well drained soil. Although bare root roses should be immersed in water for at least 24 hours before planting, your roses should have well-drained soil once they're planted. Heirloom roses are subject to garden pests, particularly aphids. You can control aphids with organic insecticidal soap or by introducing beneficial insects such ladybugs to your garden.

Given proper care, your heirloom roses can add a touch of historical charm to your garden for many years to come.


US National Arboretum

About the Author
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with an avid interest in gardening and horticulture. She earned BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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