Many people with organic gardens want to know how to grow roses organically. The answer is usually- with difficulty! Although they are some of the most beautiful and traditional of all garden flowers, roses are not easy to grow in an organic garden.
Because roses suffer from so many pests and diseases there is always a temptation to rely on chemical solutions.
In this article we will take a look at how to grow roses the organic way – without giving in to the chemical temptation.
Your first object is to start out with a hardy variety of roses if possible – that is, if you don’t already have your roses established in your garden. This means choosing varieties that are more like the wild rose and less hybridized, such as gallica, rugosa, and ramblers with small flowers.
There are companies which sell hardy varieties of rose that will do well in organic gardens and don’t need any spraying.
All this may be bad news if you were looking forward to your garden being full of long-stemmed tea roses with huge blooms, but if you think about it, it does make a lot of sense to choose the older varieties. In the same way, like pedigree animals, if plants are selectively bred for their appearance they can start to display weaknesses.
The principle of an organic garden is to take a step back from our human desire to be in control of nature to that extent.
In any case, the smaller flowers can be beautiful too, especially if they are deadheaded regularly so that flowers keep on and on coming over a long period.
When you have chosen your roses, let’s now consider how to grow roses organically and successfully even though those annoying pests appear. One thing to note; it is better to plant your rose bushes dispersed in different places around the garden instead of having a dedicated rose garden where they are all close together. This can help prevent diseases such as black spot spreading from one plant to the next.
A significant part of disease prevention when you are considering how to grow roses is your method of pruning. It is very important to cut stems cleanly, on a diagonal, when pruning. A straight cut edge or a ragged edge to the stem allows water to collect.
Fungal infections can then settle and thrive in the damp conditions and so invade the plant.
If your roses still suffer from fungal infections or black spot, it is possible to buy organic sprays for these diseases. However, these are not always the instant solution that chemical sprays will tempt you to use. . It is better to assist your plants to fend off succumbing to the disease in the first place.
In addition to disease, roses have insect pests such as aphids. If you are unfortunate, aphids can completely infest a rose bush. The best way to deal with them organically is to introduce a predator such as ladybugs (ladybirds) into your garden.
You can buy a ladybug farm and a feeder so that they stay – although you should not feed them too well, or they will not need to go eating your aphids!
It is also a good idea to have small flowering plants and herbaceous perennials around your roses. This will create a barrier to prevent fungal spores blowing up from the soil onto the leaves of the roses.
Plants that are in flower in late spring and early summer will attract insects that feed on both nectar and aphids, providing another line of defence against these unwanted pests.
Nasturtiums will attract aphids away from your roses, while plants of the allium family (onions, leeks, garlic) will repel nematodes. Rosemary, thyme and geranium will help to attract beneficial insects.
If you can let at least one of your rose bushes go to hips instead of deadheading it, you will find that birds are attracted to the hips. The birds will be another line of defence that can be of help to you to grow roses successfully in an organic garden.