We are wild about roses! There’s nothing quite like stuffing one’s nose into a big dewy rose bloom and taking a long sniff! That’s why we are always offer a huge selection of old-fashioned favorites and new additions every spring.
Our bare root roses arrive in February, and our potting crews get right to work planting them in containers. All are sold in pots, rather than bare-root, which protects their roots from breaking and drying out.
You can find our best selection of roses in March and early April when our potting process is complete.
Rose flowers are hard to resist, so when they bloom, our selection fades. Please call in advance to find current availability
At Portland Nursery we divide our rose selections into eleven Rose Class subsections.
At least 6 hours a day. Attempting roses with less sun is an uphill (and generally losing) battle.
Good air circulation is essential to keeping disease at bay. Plant roses at least 3 feet from other plants. Prune out branches that grow toward the inside of the plant.
Roses will perform best (lots of flowers & limited disease) if they are fertilized. Choose a fertilizer that is labeled for use on roses. Whether the food is organic or synthetic, liquid or granular, follow the directions on the package exactly.
Water in the morning so leaves can dry (on sunny days) before night-time. Use enough water to soak the roots completely, but do it just once a week for established plants. If temperatures are very hot, water more often.
Roses can be moved in autumn without too much trouble. They should be moved later in autumn, the middle to late part of October or the first part of November. More precisely, it is best done once the season has definitely cooled off but before it has rained so much that the soil will be saturated. Before digging up the rose, have the new site prepared. This means get the soil loosened and mixed with compost.
It would not hurt to add a bit of bone meal or organic granular transplanting fertilizer, but quick acting fertilizers are not recommended for this. Cut the rose bush back to about 18 inches tall, pruning as you otherwise would in February. Then dig up the plant, keeping as much of an intact root ball as you can manage. Move the plant promptly to the new spot, making sure the soil level as it relates to the bush stays the same; don’t bury the stem.
Water it in afterwards to settle the soil, and apply a thin layer of mulch; again, don’t bury the stem. The plant shouldn’t need further care until spring growth starts.
Some shrubs handle this sort of treatment better than others. Roses, butterfly bushes, Hydrangeas, and willows survive transplant fairly easily. Established large shrubs such as Viburnum or Hibiscus syriacus have a harder time. Established conifers often transplant poorly and don’t have a particularly high survival rating. Part of the trick is to get an intact root ball of sufficient size for the shrub. Dwarf plants often move easier than their larger counterparts.
A customer asks:
“My roses are starting to develop disease, with black splotching on the leaves. What to do?”
This one is familiar to most experienced rose growers. It is one of several diseases that affect roses, and is usually called black spot (Diplocarpon rosae). As shown above, the leaves develop black blotches and the surrounding tissue turns yellow. The disease can cause significant defoliation and reduces the vigor of the plants, and can eventually kill them.
Cultural treatment is your best defense for this. This means picking infected leaves off the plant, removing fallen, infected matter under the plant, providing adequate air circulation and plenty of direct sunlight, and keeping the leaves dry when watering the plant. Overhead sprinklers are a big ‘no-no’ with roses.
Try spreading the frequency of watering out as far as possible between deep soakings. Also, be careful of companion plants requiring more water than roses like. Some roses are more susceptible to disease than others, with wild and shrub roses showing much better resistance than most floral hybrids (hybrid teas, grandifloras, etc.).
Fungicidal sprays can also be used to help control the spread of this disease, but do not kill it off entirely. We sell several sprays that can help, including copper soap, flowable sulfur (don’t confuse these two with the dormant sprays) and Fung-onil.
Another of those leaf diseases that rose growers are familiar with is popping up its head now. Commonly called rust, there are a number of diseases that all look similar and have similar consequences. Rose rust (Phragmidium sp.) is common and many perennials in the mallow family (especially hollyhock, but also Mallow and Lavatera) get the undersides of the leaves affected by their version of this disease (Puccinia malvacearum).
These diseases can cover leaves and drain the plant’s energy, and can cause leaf loss when heavily infected. Fungicides such as Immunox and sulfur can lessen the damage, and it is a good cultural practice to remove heavily infested leaves and avoid wetting the leaves.
Modern climbing roses are no more than very tall-growing versions of shrub roses. Most grow to about 8-12’ tall, and require tying and support. They will not twine around a post on their own. Climbing roses that are grown only vertically will produce flowers only on the tips of their growth, so for best flower production, train upward and then outward. Any rambler roses we may carry (30-40’ and one bloom) are kept in the Heritage subsection. Pictured below, one of our favorite climbing roses:
One of the newest races of roses, bred by David Austin. These combine the very large, densely petalled look and heavy scent of antique roses with modern virtues of smaller sized bushes and repeat bloom. Many grow as the Hybrid Teas, upright and shrubby, but a few, like ‘Graham Thomas’, grow to be very large. Sometimes growth is spindly the first couple of years, but eventually they form a strong plant. Pruning - Most are thinned of crossing and weak growth. Then cut back the remaining canes by 1/3 of the total growth.
Flowers occur in clusters and are typically smaller than Hybrid Tea roses. Used for cutting and garden display. Often plants grow in a more shrubby round shape. Disease resistance varies. Pruning - Remove all twiggy and crossing growth. Shorten remaining canes to ½ the original length. Cut just above the nearest outward-facing bud. One of our favorite Floribunda roses:
Grandiflora roses bear very large multiple roses at the ends of strong tall stems. Generally they have larger bloom and a much taller habit, often over 5’ tall, with good disease resistance. Their long stems and classic rose form lend them well to cutting and using in arrangements. Pruning - Prune like the hybrid teas, but leave selected canes at 24-36” long. One of our favorite Grandiflora roses:
These are roses which have been in cultivation since 1850 or earlier. Moss roses, Musk, Bourbon, Alba and Damask roses are found in this group. Many of these are very large shrubs (think blackberry brush) with incredible old-rose scented flowers. Some will bloom only once per season for a few brilliant weeks in spring, and a few will repeat bloom. Pruning - Plan to have a pair of sheers in one hand and a tome on old roses in the other!
We carry a select few Heritage roses. Here are some examples:
Our favorite Heritage roses:
The most popular rose by far, providing a tremendous range of color, fragrance, form, and disease resistance. It is generally long stemmed with a single rose per stem. Pruning - Select the 5 to 7 most robust canes and remove all other to the point of origin. Prune the selected canes to 18-24” long. Cut just above an out facing dormant bud or leaf scar.
One of our favorites:
These roses vary greatly in growth from ground cover roses to large shrub roses. Most require less maintenance than other types. Generally, they are marketed as disease resistant. To be used as a summer flowering shrub in the landscape. Usually mediocre cutting flowers. Pruning - Varies by cultivar. Please ask for details at Information.
A few of our favorite landscape roses:
These are like smaller versions of Hybrid Tea Roses. They have mini flowers rather than a mini plant. Although, the plant size is generally in proportion to the flowers. Micro mini roses are available seasonally through the color department.
A few of our favorite miniature roses:
Our hardiest and most disease resistant roses. Many are five petaled and many form enormous rose hips. The range in height and color is vast. Most repeat bloom. Pruning - None required, though some may be desired. Do not spray. One of our favorite Rugosa roses:
These are “wild” roses, as they occur in nature, and are not a hybrid. Most grow large and have only one annual bloom. These are for large gardens. Pruning - Little or none required. One of our favorite wild roses: