Northern Planting and Feeding Tea Roses

Northern tea roses i.e. those grown in the north, are treated somewhat differently than their more southerly grown cousins.

At this point, let me tell you that some rose gardeners do not believe in this system of rose growing. All I can say is it works for me and I wrote a book about it and have received numerous letters telling me that it works for my readers as well.

The Secret

The “secret” (if there ever was one) is that this plant is already treated differently in various climates around the world. In warmer areas, it is recommended to plant tea roses so the bud union is at or slightly above ground (in England for example). In North America, it became standard to put that bud union two-inches deep to protect it a little more from winter damage. I simple recommend putting the bud union six-inches deep to offer it more protection in my USDA zone 4 garden.

This deep planting keeps that bud union and wood slightly above it alive over the winter and the wood will produce new shoots in the spring to throw brand new flowering canes each year. You do not have to have aboveground rose canes to get flowers.

Are there Disadvantages to This

You betcha. You have to feed regularly which takes up more time and liquid food is recommended for best success. This liquid quickly gets down to the roots (remember they are deeper) to keep the blooms coming. If you don't feed, the blooms fade away as the plant weakens over a few years. So no feed = no blooms.

The big one is that the first flush of blooms from your tea roses will be a week to ten days later than conventionally hilled and protected roses. This is because you're not protecting the buds and it takes the canes a little longer to get up from below ground. The second flush of blooms is pretty much on time though.

Feeding Tea Roses

Gardeners who have trialed this system sometimes forget that the feeding has to change with the planting if they want consistent success.

What are the advantages?

Well, your hybrid tea rose plants don't die over the winter. They may look pretty dead (I cut mine to the ground in the fall to eliminate this dead look) but they're alive below ground and will throw new shoots when the ground warms up.

Cleanup in the fall is easier. There's no digging or hilling or slugging dirt around, messing with fabrics or foam. All you do is whack the rose canes to the ground after the leaves fall off and go back to doing whatever it is you were doing.

Blackspot is reduced as the spored don't have canes on which to overwinter

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