Herself's Houston Garden

Conservation through cultivation

Tea Roses

When I first put in the tea roses the neighbors all wandered by and said ‘you can’t grow roses here except for knock outs’. They told me the mealy bugs would attack them and I’d have to keep them in pots and bring them in in the winter.

The roses have thrived so far. Time will tell if the neighbors really are correct.

Winter in Houston is fine for roses, some colder years they drop their leaves, in warmer years they bloom right through the year.

I prune them in February. I’ve had a little black spot, a few aphids and mealy bugs but nothing serious. Soapy water has taken care of the aphids and removing the mealy bug and spraying with orange oil has kept that in check.

I’ve lost some tea roses to leaf scorch – dry windy weather dries out the leaves faster than the rose can supply water to them. The leaves then wilt and over the course of a couple of weeks the entire plant wilts and dies. Leaf scorch bacteria can also kill roses, it is spread by leaf hopper insects. So protect from wind and water frequently in dry spells.

Roses love full sun and water. Given full sun they will fight off most attacks of insects, fungus and mold. They will not do well in shade or even part shade down here. I’ve been told, but have not confirmed that milk mixed with water sprayed on roses cures blackspot. Get the lowest fat milk you can find and use 1 part milk to 8 parts water.

Roses love acid, the more rain and less watering from the hose the better. If it is a dry year add some vinegar ( 1 Tablespoon per gallon ) or acidic plant food to the soil around them.

Rose petals can be eaten and are used in jellies, honeys and vinegars. To make rose sugar: mince rose petals, cover with two parts sugar and leave in the fridge for a month, strain petal parts from sugar before serving. Rose hips can be made into a tea.

I’m growing ‘Tropicana’, ‘JFK’, ‘Peace’, one yellow, one pink, and one red Jackson and Perkins that I don’t have positive ids on. ‘Mrs Dudley Cross’ and ‘Mrs BR Kant’ are both highly recommended teas for the gulf coast area.

And just because you thought roses were a fairly boring plant, let me warn you about sporotrichosis. It is a fungus that can be found on roses, sphagnum moss, and other tropical plants. If you have a cut and get some of this fungus in the cut small painless bumps appear. If this happens, see your doctor as it can spread and become a serious lung disease. Sporotrichosis is also known as the rose gardeners disease.

Roses are extremely easy to propagate. Snip off the last 6″ of a stem. Remove the leaves on the bottom of the stem. Place the stem in soil in the late fall. Cover with a large glass ( a mayonnaise jar works well ). Remove the jar in the spring when new growth appears.

Black spot is a problem on roses especially in our humid climate. Yellow roses are especially prone to black spot. Black spot ( Diplocarpon rosae) first appeared in the US in 1830.

The ones still with me are doing just fine during the 3 months of drought and 100’F days of summer 2011

See also:
Pruning roses
Mealy bug
Leaf scorch on roses

More Information:
Controlling Mildew with Milk/Water
The Field Report
Rose Propagation by Dr. William C. Welch