What do I need to start a rose garden?
I want to start a rose garden. What do I need to get started (soil, drainage, etc.)?
As with many plants, your new rose garden will need well-drained soil and lots of sun. Your new bushes will need regular watering as well, but be sure not to locate them in heavy soils that remain wet. I recommend a soil test as soon as your soil is thawed to get an idea of what you might need to add for amendments prior to planting. You’ll get a reading on nutrients, organic matter, and the pH. Kits are available at our county offices, or we’re happy to mail one to you- just reach out to your local county office (yours is in Farmington).
When you are ready to purchase your bushes, be sure to visit local nurseries carrying varieties that do well in your area. There are many varieties of roses, but they are not all able to withstand Maine’s climate. For some recommendations on which types to look for, check out this hardiness study, Hardy Shrub Roses for Northern New England, done in collaboration with UMaine and UVM that may be useful. Also, there are several varieties that are considered invasive in Maine, so be sure to steer clear of those- another reason to visit a locally-owned nursery.
Roses are known for being one of the preferred hosts for Japanese beetles. Be prepared to hand-pick them daily when they arrive each summer.
Growing Roses Successfully by Dr. Leonard Perry at the University of Vermont is a helpful article with more tips to get you started.
Enjoy your new rose garden!