How to start a rose garden, the fundamentals

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

Recently SW Rankin News spoke with the President of Mississippi Old Garden Rose Society's (MSOGR), and Pearl resident, Betty Miles Newman. Newman discussed the fundamentals of rose gardening to provide the valuable knowledge and skills needed to make a successful attempt.

Newman explains that “[for] someone who is interested in roses the first decision they need to make is how much time [they] will be able to devote to this. That will help determine what kind of rose they are looking for. For someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to attend to a garden, they will either want some type of old garden rose or knock out rose...the mature size is a significant consideration, as well as how much sun it requires.”

Unfortunately no retail gardening supply stores in the Southwest Rankin area carry old garden roses at this time. A new plant must be ordered online. An alternate route of obtaining the rose of choice is to procure a root clipping from a local garden. Either way, there are multiple online retail establishments who sell old garden roses. A couple of Newman's favorites are Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham Texas or Chamblee's RoseNursery in Tyler Texas.

Newman further offers that “there is information on the Rose Society’s website that actually shows how to make a cut for transplanting.”

The second decision is location. The prime areas to plant roses take into consideration sun/shade, space, soil and water accessibility. For an initial soil assessment, Newman recommends using what is called the “Mason Fruit Jar Test.” A sample of the dirt is obtained, put in a fruit jar, water is added and allowed to sit for twenty-four hours. The results tell you how much clay, how much silt, etc. A soil sample (about a pint in size) can be tested at the Rankin County Extension office.

As far the requisite sun and shade, Newman explains that “roses need six hours of direct sunlight. Some roses will take less sun, so look at your site, figure out how much sun it gets.” This will help narrow down the type of rose to plant.

Additionally, site drainage is an important consideration and can be determined by performing this simple test: dig a four inch hole in the ground, fill it with water, and time how long it takes to drain.

The third, and final, consideration is when to plant. Newman explains that “September is actually when the rose year begins because that is when gardeners prepare their planting site for future roses and begin shopping for roses.” February through October are the best months to plant container roses and January, February, November and December are the months to plant bare-root roses. Fertilizing roses are best any months of the year with the exception of October through December.

It is Newman's hope that this information is enough to encourage any potential rose aficionado to begin the journey of successfully cultivating their beloved flower.

For further information on how to successfully start a rose garden, visit or the Rose Society Facebook page.

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