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Monday, October 22, 2012

Why Can't I Find a Decent Looking Rose at the Nursery?

Q. My roses are not what they should be.  Not sure why but here is what I think. The plants we buy are not the same quality purchased 10 years ago, no matter the cost. The alkaline water has destroyed the soil and I am not using enough soil sulfur.

A. I do not agree. Rose producers, such as Weeks Roses, ship good quality roses when they leave their production facility. What happens to the roses after they leave their facility has some impact on the quality of the rose that you can purchase.

First is the shipper. If the shipper is a good one, they can arrive in the nursery in good condition. Damage to plants can occur in shipping.

Secondly are plant brokers. Sometimes plant materials are handled by so-called “middlemen”,  typically called plant brokers. Sometimes the brokers ship directly from the producers. Sometimes plant brokers have their own facilities and hold plant materials for a period of time. Damage can occur during plant brokerage.

Finally the retail outlet may mishandle the plant materials in the nursery prior to sale. Shopping at mass merchandisers or those companies which offer the lowest possible price will affect the quality of the plant. They shop around for the best possible deal they can get. This can mean the plants that have been held for quite a while because they could not be sold.

Anytime you hold plant materials for long periods of time the quality of those plants would be affected. Count on it. This is why the producer can start with high quality material and end up with a garbage with their name on it at a retail outlet  six months later.

There is definitely a difference in quality among producers of roses. But all these other factors will affect the quality of the product available to you. To avoid this as much as possible, do your rose shopping when shipments of roses first come in to the store. Minimize the time they stay at a retail outlet. Buy roses from a reputable grower such as Weeks Roses.  I know at least one nursery in Las Vegas carried Weeks Roses this past spring. They probably had trouble selling them, particularly in this economy because they cost more.


Lastly, buy varieties of roses that do well in our desert climate. I have attached a list of roses that do well here for you to look at. I also posted this list on my blog.

Roses for Hot Dry Climates

The alkaline water does not destroy the soil. Water high in sodium can damage soil structure, be toxic to plants and cause serious growing problems.  Unless you are using softened water from your water softener, local water used for irrigation should not be a problem.

 The five tenets for growing roses successfully in the desert include: start with good quality plant material; choose the right microclimate in your landscape; amend your garden soil at the time of planting; cover the soil with wood mulch after planting; and use appropriate management which includes irrigation, fertilizer applications, pest control and pruning.

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