While roses (Rosa spp.) maintain an air of mystery among gardeners, many of them are actually fairly easy to grow, and they usually grow quickly, producing blooms in their first season. Watching a rose metamorphose from a bare stick in the pot you purchased from a nursery into a landscape stunner is one of the great pleasures of a home garden.
There are as many cultivars of roses as there are grains of sand (OK, that might be an exaggeration, but it makes the point), but most fall into broad categories, and the category of rose will impact its growth rate.
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Most roses grow quickly and will produce blooms their first year. There are some exceptions.
Roses in the Garden
Roses broadly break down into three categories: old roses, also called heirloom roses; modern hybrid roses, among which the hybrid teas are the most popular; and species, or wild roses, which have grown in the wild for perhaps thousands of years. This is a very broad categorization, but it provides a place to start understanding the growth rate of a particular rose.
Within these categories are multiple varieties, including climbing roses; grandifloras (a subgroup of hybrid teas); floribundas, which produce large flower clusters; polyantha roses, which have smaller blooms; and miniature roses, which can reach mature heights of 12 to 36 inches.
All these types, with the possible exception of some climbers, should produce multiple canes, which carry buds that will flower in the summer after planting. All roses are heavy feeders and require well-drained, rich soil, so proper planting and fertilization is an important factor in plant health and bloom production. Mountains have been written on the best way to plant a rose to promote vigorous growth, but a general overview includes:
- Choosing a location with a minimum of five or six hours of sun per day.
- Ensuring well-drained, loose, loamy soil, as roses will not thrive with wet feet.
- Being sure not to crowd your roses. This will stunt your plants, so be sure to follow the guidelines for your particular rose.
- Adding plenty of compost and organic matter to the planting site.
- Fertilizing with a balanced fertilizer once a month between April and July.
Climbers: A Special Case
Some climbing roses grow canes as long as 20 feet. It takes a lot of oomph to produce healthy canes of that length, so climbers, while vigorous growers for the most part, may offer fewer blooms in their first year or two than bush rose varieties.
Because they are trying to reach their full height, growers recommend not pruning them the first couple of years. Train them on a trellis or other support and trim just for good looks, but otherwise, let them grow. They will likely give you a few flowers their first year and perhaps a few more in their second — then watch out in that third year!
Roses in Containers
If you are growing roses in containers, their growth rate will be diminished unless they are in oversized pots that will allow their roots to really spread out. To ensure more vigorous growth, choose a large pot and fertilize more frequently than you would a rose planted in the garden since fertilizer leaches more quickly out of a container. A container-planted rose — in fact, any plant in a container — will need more frequent watering as well.
You are still likely to enjoy some blooms your first season, but the bush itself won't get as large as a rose planted directly in the garden, so it will produce fewer blooms over time.