About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Stop & Smell the Roses

I've heard many times that growing roses in Florida is impossible. Our sandy soil as well as the oppressive heat and humidity of summer does create a challenge unless you know about roses grown on "Fortuniana" rootstock (Rosa fortuniana, 'Double White Cherokee'). This rootstock which was discovered in China by Robert Fortune around 1848 has made growing roses in Florida possible. Hybrid roses grafted onto "Fortuniana" rootstock can thrive in sandy soil, are more resistant to nematodes and can live for decades, while those not grafted may only survive a season or two. They have vigorous root growth and produce larger flowers.

Companies that grow roses on Fortuniana rootstock are Jackson & Perkins, Nelson's Roses and Weeks Roses. Instead of ordering hybrid roses online...purchase them from a local garden center. You'll pay more for them compared to those for sale at your local box-store. But the additional cost is well worth it and with proper care, you'll be enjoying your roses for a much longer period of time.
Antique roses or the modern day Knock-Out(R) shrub roses are for gardeners looking for a more carefree rose that doesn't require a lot of spraying or fertilizing. Many antique varieties can be found at local nurseries. If you're unable to find them in your area, Seminole Springs Antique Rose & Herb Farm in Eustis carries a large variety and is well worth the day trip to visit this unique nursery which also specializes in herbs, butterfly plants and perennials.

The University of Florida provides sound information on Growing Roses in Florida which includes site selection, soil preparation, maintenance, irrigation, fertilization, mulching, pruning and pest management. The Central Florida Rose Society which meets every first Wednesday of the month at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is another great resource. Their web site provides information, as well as lists of easy care roses, their favorites for Florida and how to achieve curb appeal with roses.

If you're interested in a book, my two recommendations are For the Love of Roses in Florida and Elsewhere by Barbara Oehibeck. You can purchase a used (which in many cases is new or in very good condition) copy starting at $9.95 plus taxes and shipping. Another book is from the experts themselves, Nelson's Guide to Florida Roses which can be purchased directly from them for a cost of $12 plus tax, shipping and handling charges.

Before you give up on growing roses in Florida, try growing one grafted onto "Fortuniana" rootstock. You'll be delighted you did!


Stacy said...

Greeetings! We're in central Florida as well (Lakeland) and have been growing fortuniana for 7 years now, never once had a problem with blackspot or any other typical rose issue.

We do have a nasty black beetle infestation that loves to sit on the heads of the newly opened roses and EAT THEM, but some judicious sevin dust usually solves that problem. The beetles appeared the year we planted sunflowers, so AVOID planting sunflowers is the only conclusion we can draw. Stupid beetles.

There's a nursery in Winter Haven, O'Connors Flower Haven, who carry a great many J&P fortuniana roses, along with some Nelson's I think, and lately we've been seeing J&P fortuniana at Home Depot of all places!

Susan said...

Stacy...Thanks for your input on fortuniana roses, and for the name of a local nursery that carries them. I will add your blog to our list of Florida blogs, as well. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.