Yes, you can grow roses in the Southwest. In fact, the Southwest is ideal for roses in many ways. We have ample sun, long days, and a dry climate that reduces that the chance of mildew and fungus problems. Roses aren’t exactly a low water plant but they are more drought-tolerant than you might expect. Indeed, they can be overwatered and drown.
Plan for roses.
Roses are often relegated to “rose beds,” but can be easily grown throughout the landscape – especially the durable heirlooms and miniature roses which can be tucked in many corners of the landscape. Add roses to your winter planning palette. Order plants now so that they will arrive in time for planting in your zone.
Planting times for roses
If you live in low desert (USDA Zone 10), February is the time to plant.
Middle desert (zone 9), plant bare-root or container grown around mid-February.
High desert (zone 8), plant bare-root around March first, container grown after mid-March.
Cool Plateau (zone 7, 6), plant bare-root after April first, container grown after May first.
High Mountains (zones 5, 4), plant bare-root in late April, container grown in late May.
I have somewhere around 15 rosebushes in my landscape at any given time. Note the imprecise number of listed. As I have mentioned before here and there, even the best gardeners lose plants occasionally. It happens to all of us. It is just part of life. I have also moved a number of times and don’t dig up all my roses (just a few favorites). Javalina have gotten in the yard and seem to think rose bushes are the best thing since sliced bread. Well, compared to prickly pear thorns, I guess they might have a point (sorry about that pun).
Hybrid roses, especially some of the newer varieties and many of the grafted ones only live for around ten years. And finally, when I was just starting out, I lost roses to improper pruning. Now that I know how to do it right, I will share with you kind readers in my next post. Hint: Pruning roses is a matter of getting the right time, right amount, and right place.
If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my lectures. Look for me at your local Pima County Library branch, Steam Pump Ranch, Tubac Presidio, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including the latest, “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening,” written for Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press, $23).
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