February is good time to start with roses

By PAUL GOSNELLMy Nassau Sun logo


Have you completed your New Year’s resolutions yet? Or, should I ask, have you put aside most of those for some other time? If one of your resolutions was to either start or revitalize that rose garden, I hope you haven’t given up hope. February is a wonderful time to be in the rose garden preparing for an abundance of color in early April and throughout the summer.

Roses often take a tough rap about how hard they are to grow and maintain. As the kids say, “Bummer.” Not so! Roses are tough plants and can withstand much adversity. Generally, it is the grower who weakens long before the plant will. Some of us call growing roses a hobby, others a “mission.” The goal remains the same: to grow one of God’s most beautiful floral creations.

And now that mission has become easier for the average enthusiast. The tendency toward shrub roses, multi-purpose roses for mixed beds and easy-care roses has continued and intensified. New varieties that make fewer demands on the gardener and simplify garden tasks have been successfully introduced in Europe (and have found their way here) and in this country.

There is much more talk of the sustainable rose garden, a garden that features low-maintenance, highly disease-resistant varieties and also environmentally aware practices and materials that minimize the use of chemicals. Earth Kind (a rose type developed by Texas A&M), easy care, or carefree roses are the latest “buzz” words in the garden. While Old Garden Roses, or OGRs, remain a choice of some growers and are highly resistant, their popularity seems to have dwindled.

For a “birds-eye” view of a very new rose garden, come see the Knock Out roses planted at the UF/IFAS Nassau County Demonstration Garden at the James S. Page Governmental Center. We’ve planted four varieties: Knock Out Double Rose (Rosa hybrida Radtko), Knock Out Rose Pink (Rosa Radcon), Knock Out Rose Rainbow (Rosa Radcor) and Knockout Rose (Rosa Radrazz).

As C. Austin Miles said, “What a joy to tarry there!”

Learn more
For more information on how to care for your rose garden, go to the Nassau County Extension Service’s Web page on roses: nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/landmatters/roses.html. The page includes tips about pruning roses and fungicide treatment.


Paul Gosnell lives on Amelia Island and is an active Master Gardener volunteer.



Master Gardener volunteers are trained by County Horticultural Extension agents and are required to serve 75 volunteer hours in year one of their accreditation and 50 volunteer hours annually in all subsequent years to maintain their certification.

Nassau County master gardeners serve under the direction of Rebecca L. Jordi, UF/IFAS Nassau County Horticultural Extension Agent. For information on the master gardener program and application requirements, contact Jordi at 548-1116 or rljordi@ufl.edu.



Knock Out Double Rose

The Knock Out Double Rose is among the featured roses at the Nassau County Extension Service's Demonstration Garden at the James S. Page Governmental Complex. It is resistant to rose black spot and is tolerant of downy mildew.