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Surprise! Roses Are Easy To Grow

Gardener Charlie Dimmock, Hannah Storm, The Early Show
CBS/The Early Show
Roses are a popular flower. And, believe it or not, they're not hard to grow.

As a matter of fact, with so many varieties for sale, the hardest part just may be choosing the right plant for your garden.

Gardener Charlie Dimmock shows some of her favorites on Thursday's The Early Show.

Groundcover
As Dimmock puts it, this type of rose is "idiot-proof." It requires little pruning and has been bred to be more disease resistant than other types. In other words, these might be considered good "starter roses."

There is no official class of "groundcover roses;" it's a name that marketers and growers have given to any rose that's shorter than average, usually topping out at one to three feet, and likes to spread out. They don't act as a traditional groundcover, such as ivy, that grows so dense it chokes out weeds, but it will spread wide if given the chance. For this reason, the flower is nice as a shrubby border along a path, flowing from a container or tumbling over a wall. These plants put on a good show in the garden, but don't expect huge, long-stemmed blooms.

Shrubs
This is what most gardeners think of as the traditional-looking rose bush. The group encompasses a wide range of roses. As the Web site HeirloomRoses.com explains, "it seems that any rose that does not fit another category becomes a shrub rose."

Gardeners often worry about these plants developing black spot and other diseases or being plagued by bugs. To help control this, Dimmock suggests avoiding a whole bed of rose bushes. Instead, mix roses in with other types of plants so if a rose bush does become infected, it won't spread to all of your roses.

Climbing
As you would guess, these roses can be trained to climb a trellis, a doorway or a fence. They are beautiful bloomers; expect a heavy bloom in the spring with scattered blooms throughout the rest of the season. Climbing roses take two or three years to really mature into full bloomers. To get the most blooms possible, Dimmock says to tie the plant in a spiral formation.

Sometimes you hear the term "rambling rose;" these are slightly different from climbing roses. Rambling roses are vigorous climbers that bloom only once a year.

Dimmock suggests growing climbing roses with another vine such as clematis or honeysuckle so the trellis or fence will have blooms all summer long, even if the roses are not flowering.

Care
Gardeners are sometimes intimidated by roses, figuring they are hard to care for.

Dimmock says they are actually very tolerant plants. They'll grow in the cold; they'll grow in poor soil and they will flower. Roses should be watered frequently. Regular deadheading - cutting off old and dying blooms - is also essential to keep the plant producing more flowers. While this is recommended for all plants, it's particularly important for roses.

To deadhead correctly, Dimmock says you want to take a lot of the stem off along with the bloom; cut next to a node or joint. This will help prevent disease.

Many rose bushes are just finishing their first flush of heavy blooming. This is the perfect time to cut the flower back and then fertilize. Buy fertilizer specifically made for roses and follow the instructions on the box. Unlike other blooming flowers, which like to be fed often, you need to fertilize roses only once. You may choose to do so one more time (after the second flush), but Dimmock warns not to fertilize too late in the year. Feeding prompts new, soft growth, which won't survive the winter and could ultimately kill the entire plant.

The fertilizer you buy will be small grains that you sprinkle over the ground. If the ground is dry, water well and then wait a day to apply the rose food. Because the fertilizer is salty, it will initially draw water out of the plant. Sprinkle grains around the plant and then dig up the ground slightly to mix the food into the soil.

Note: Did you know that you can eat rose petals? Plenty of people cut blooms to arrange in a vase for the kitchen table, but when your bushes are overflowing with blooms, why not pick a couple of flowers and add pizzazz to a salad. Or, glaze the petals with egg whites, crystallize with sugar and sprinkle over a cake. The petals themselves don't have much flavor, but they look beautiful.