Who Says You Can’t Grow Roses Organically?

I often hear people say they can’t grow roses without chemicals, and to them I say “phooey!” Actually, I say, “of course you can!” All it takes is a little intelligence, and really not much effort at all.

The main thing is to start with root-grown roses, which is to say, roses that haven’t been grafted on to a different rootstock. If they die back, the roots will produce the same rose that died, not some random thorny rootstock. My best source is The Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. They rock! But my favorite rose comes from my mother in law’s garden. Because hers are old and root-grown, I’ve been able to transplant many into my garden. The smell is divine (in fact, an antique-rose specialist identified them as Belladona).

Roses also love compost, and horse poop, too. Plop some around the plant’s base every spring, if you are feeling up to it. Planting a little garlic around the base never hurt, either—it is said that garlic keeps vampires away, even from roses!

Most pests on roses are either weather-related or health-related. Black spot is kind of like blight—it’s caused by too much dampness and rain. Cleaning up dead leaves and pruning back dead branches in the spring will help keep your roses pretty and fresh. If you have Japanese beetles, just pluck them off and drown them in a jar of soapy water. If you have aphids, spray them off with some soapy water or a hard spray from the hose. Again, apply compost and make sure your roses are fully fed a good organic meal and planted in a happy spot—not too much shade.

That’s about it. Here are some pictures of roses from my garden this year. They are blooming earlier than usual—must be global warming!

A lovely, fragrant rose from the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas

A lovely, fragrant rose from the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas.

These are the roses from my mother-in-law. They smell like heaven.

These are the roses from my mother-in-law. They smell like heaven.

Wait, that's not a rose, it's Pumkin the cat!

Wait, that's not a rose, it's Pumkin the cat!

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13 Responses to Who Says You Can’t Grow Roses Organically?

  1. Maya says:

    Beautiful and adorable!

  2. Barbara says:

    When I bought my first rose plant 4 years ago, I was told that I would have to spray them with this and that chemical to keep them nice. I politely refused and have had incredible success growing them organically, just as you have suggested; sunny location, timely pruning, soapy water when needed, and a generous helping from my compost pile. It is thriving and I am ready for more. Thanks for all your wonderful advice, and for your dedication to your job. The organic life is well worth the extra effort it takes to pursue.

  3. Sue says:

    I find that if I ever resort to sprays, I soon find that the beneficial bugs are there and regret it – I just let nature take care of roses now – with the help of organic fertilizer 4 times a summer – Edmunds Roses is another good source for root grown – on-line.

  4. Susan says:

    love the cat!

  5. Heather says:

    You absolutely can grow roses organically! It’s all that my husband and I have ever done. We do not spray at all with anything, and we hand-pick pests like Japanese beetles from the plants. I should mention that this originally started because we were lazy, not because we were necessarily eco-minded; but we know better now. :)

  6. Chris says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s true, Yes, You Can Grow Roses Organically. Also check out the Earth Kind Series of roses. Tough as nails. I never spray mine. Use composted manure teas as fertilizer… They thrive in the deep south…..

  7. Wonderful post Roses grow beautifully chemical free… Feeding 100% naturally nutrients!

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