Every childhood has a smell. For someone, that smell is the one from marshmallows, for others, freshly cut grass or the scent from the meadow brimming under the August sun. For me, childhood is equal with roses. My mother grew them, and perhaps this is the reason why I decided to introduce them to my garden.
Let me show you how to grow roses from seeds, and who knows; perhaps you will succeed in bringing a part of your childhood back to life.
What Are Roses?
I believe that this is a pointless question, but still, here are some facts about this popular flowers.
As we can see, roses are not very demanding. However, the whole process of growing them demands your attention, and you should carefully follow these steps so that your plants grow strong and healthy.
Choosing The Cultivar
This is perhaps the most significant family I’ve been writing about so far. There are tens of thousands of varieties and hybrids, so which one you will choose is entirely up to you. However, not to leave you stranded, here are a few favorites from me.
Rosa 'Madame A. Meilland' is one of the newer cultivars, and it is known for its resistance to diseases, and this is why it is so popular.
'Mister Lincoln' known for its vibrant red-orange shade, its scent can be felt up to 10 feet away.
‘Wedgwood’ is great if you want one variety which can be either a climber or a ground-cover
In any case, ask your friends for a recommendation. Those people who live near you, such as neighbors can provide you with excellent insight into the quality of the soil. It shouldn’t differ too much when it comes to this so that you can plan accordingly. Also, you are going to ask them for one more favor.
Obtaining The Seed
Going to a gardening center and buying seeds I a walk in the park. Open the package, plant the seed, and that’s it. But, I don’t like taking shortcuts. I love to do things on my own, even if it requires a bit of preparation.
Now, about that favor from neighbors. Once flowers of roses wilt, you will notice that small, acorn-like fruits remain. These are called hips (they don’t lie, the same as Shakira), and contain seeds of roses. This is what you will need to grow your flowers.
Good time for picking them is once they are brown and dry. About a handful will be enough for a few plants to grow. About ¾ of seeds won’t sprout at all, so we need more than that.
Preparing The Soil
In case that you asked around, or there are already flowers in your garden, you have a pretty good picture of the quality of the land. In general, if your other flowers are blooming and progressing nicely, you don’t need to adjust anything. However, things are a bit different in case that roses are your first plants.
First of all, you should check the pH level of the soil. Doing so is child’s play if you have a pH measuring unit. Those are cheap and easy to use. Just check the numbers at several locations in the garden. If the result is slightly off the chart, don’t panic. 5.8 is still good value for roses.
Only in cases of extreme miss such as 8.4 which is highly unlikely, you should use certain measures to adjust the pH. Keep in mind that when the value is below 6.0, you need to add limestone, and when it is over 7.0, sulfur will be needed.
The matter of water retention is far more critical and tightly connected with the amount of organic matter within the soil. To improve both of those factors, add manure, compost or any other kind you are already using. Till it thoroughly, so it mixes with the soil well.
Of course, you need to keep in mind the whole time that your roses will need sunlight. Full sun is the best, and in case that temperatures go off the chart, there is a cure for that as well.
Mulching is highly important when it comes to growing roses. Apply this before planting, and it will settle nicely by sowing time. Ground tree bark is excellent for this purpose, since it will hold the moist within the soil, and will keep it cool as well. This is important during hot periods in summer.
Preparing The Seed
Now, we got to the fun part. The whole process of germinating is not simple for roses, but it can be done. Begin with preparing two paper towels, hips and 1 ½ tsp of 3% of hydrogen peroxide mixed in 1 cup of water.
Start by removing the seeds from the hip, and place it into the mesh and wash them under a stream of water. This will remove any organic residue, which can prevent the germinating process to begin. After this procedure, soak the seeds in a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide.
This is done to remove any potential fungal spores which can cause diseases later. Some people suggest that this fungus will weaken the shell of the seed, making it easier to crack and stem to appear, but I’m not convinced of this.
Next, take the paper towels and water them lightly. You can use a dripper for this. Spread the seeds evenly and put them in the refrigerator. This is done to imitate winter conditions. Don’t worry; seeds are hard enough to sustain low temperatures. Wrap towels with seeds in a plastic bag, since fruits and vegetables can release chemicals which can harm the seeds.
How long this procedure will last depends on the outside conditions. Usually, early in the spring, the seeds begin to sprout. Therefore, wait until the temperature outside is at least 70oF. The next step is to start growing roses in containers so that they can be transplanted later.
The First Place
Now, take a trellis with compartments, since this will make things a lot easier, so find one and fill it with the neutral potting mix. There are those which are specially made for starting seeds, so using it would be wise.
The depth on which the seed is planted should be about 1/4”. The easiest way to do so is to poke a hole with a finger and plant the seed. Cover it with soil and water.
This is where things can be tricky. Roses have rather extended sprouting period, where some cultivars will need up to two or three years. For the whole time, you should keep it at a constant temperature between 60 and 70oF. Also, the soil should be moist, but don’t overdo it. Keep the trellis where it will get at least six hours of sunlight per day.
After sprouting, two leaves usually appear, but this doesn’t mean that you can rush it to the garden. Those are not the leaves we are looking for (yes, a Star Wars reference). Only when there are more leaves which resemble rose ones more, you can consider moving it to the container.
There, it should spend another year or two to get stronger, and once the container or pot becomes too small, you can finally take a shovel and start relocating.
The Final Moving
So, after a few years, the soil where you wanted to plant roses should be nicely worked out. Bacteria and other critters should decompose all of the organic material, so you can proceed with relocating.
The best time for doing so is once you are entirely sure that frosts and cold periods passed, and that there is no danger from freezing.
Dig a hole which is large enough for the plant to fit. While you are digging, remove any rocks or stones you come across, since it will tangle the roots, and make them provide the nutrients at lower rates.
Don’t leave lower sections of the stem exposed. It is better to plant it a bit deeper since erosion can make it vulnerable to frosts and wind. You can strike a stake next to it, to support the stem.
Caring For Roses
Watering once in a while is necessary for roses. They need water but don’t love to have wet feet. If you are uncertain, see how the plant progresses. Keep in mind that wilted and yellowish leaves are signs of both overwatering and too little water. If the soil is dry and cracked around the plant, apply water.
Fertilizer can be used several times during the hottest months. Food used for pet rabbits is an excellent source of nutrients so that you can choose either this or something based on alfalfa meal. Phosphorus will improve the plant, so something which contains this element is great as well. Remember that some varieties won’t bloom during the first year.
Pests And Diseases
Since the beautiful scent roses are spreading, they are attracting numerous bugs, both useful insects, and pests. Since you want to draw in first and repel the latter, here is what you can do in case of:
As I mentioned, roses won’t tolerate too much water. If this happens, they can be infected by several kinds of fungal diseases. It is always the best to keep the area clean of weeds, and not to overwater. Still, here are some of the most common ones.
So, there we have it. Learning how to grow roses from seeds is not difficult, but will require some time to get the first results. In any way, once those flowers start opening and spreading their scent, you will forget all of the troubles, I’m sure of it.
As always, if you have any advice, opinion or question, feel free to use the comment section below.