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Village of AsharokenThe small but powerful Village of Asharoken

"A Rose is a Rose is a Rose..." by Joan G. Hauser          June 2009

There are more than 100 species of roses. Artists and poets have extolled their beauty. In their "Language of Flowers", Victorians assigned multiple meanings to each color and combination of colors.  It’s also the flower of our state and the nation. Symbolically, a rose can represent a belief in socialism or a celebration of the Virgin Mary, as well many kinds of romantic love. And we can grow them with ease on Long Island.

There are six broad categories of roses:

Hybrid Teas—large, classically shaped blooms, usually one to a stem.

Floribundas—Masses of blooms, usually smaller than Hybrid Teas.  Low to medium in height.

Grandifloras—a combination of the first two.  Large, well-shaped blooms generally in clusters of three to a stem.  Usually taller than Floribundas.

Miniature or Tom Thumb Roses—true roses with miniature flowers and leaves.

Old Garden Roses and Shrubs—Large, full, and often highly scented.  May bloom once or all season.

Climbers and Pillars—tall growing.  Superb for covering fences, arbors, and trellises.

Begin your rose garden by choosing the right space—one that has direct sunlight for at least six hours a day, provides excellent drainage, and has soil with a pH between 5.6 and 6.5.  Both air circulation and protection
Pink Promise, a 2009 All-America Rose Selection
Pink Promise, a 2009 All-America Rose Selection
from high winds by hedges, walls, or shrub borders are essential.

Bareroot roses should be planted in the early spring while container grown plants can be planted at any time till early September. Fertilize in early spring only after four to six inches of growth appear.  Do not fertilize after July 15th in New York State lest pre-winter wood hardening might be delayed.

Roses are responsive to deadheading.  Cut after bloom by taking the stem down to the first 5-leaflet leaf. For continual blooming varieties, whether Old Garden roses or more modern hybrid varieties, deadheading will allow the plant to continue forming new shoots, leaves, and blooms. For “once-blooming” varieties, deadheading will help the plant to form new green growth.

Prune roses in the spring when the forsythia blooms to remove unhealthy wood, all wood thinner than the diameter of a pencil, crossed canes, and wood that is preventing good air circulation in the center of the bush. 
Cinco de Mayo, a 2009 All-America Rose Selection
Cinco de Mayo, a 2009 All-America Rose Selection
During the summer, remove dead or damaged growth.  In the late fall, mulch around the base of each plant to protect roots.

The most common rose diseases are Black Spot and Powdery Mildew. These can be discouraged by planting resistant varieties, pruning lower on canes, destroying fallen leaves, and spacing plants so there is plenty of air circulation. Some Long Island insect pests that attack roses are Japanese beetles, spider mites, aphids, thrips, leaf rollers, and midges. For more information on specific problems, check out the Long Island Rose Society at  Not only do they offer general information, but local experts and their phone numbers are listed to help you get answers to questions.

This year’s All-America Rose selections are: Carefree Spirit (the only shrub rose that flourishes under a non-spraying regimen.  Its blossoms are deep red with white markings, turning pink as they age.); Pink Promise (A fragrant hybrid tea with large pink blossoms. A percentage of the sales of this continual bloomer will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.); Cinco de Mayo (Ever-blooming clusters with the fragrance of fresh-cut golden apples that blend smoked lavender and rusty red- orange.)