The rose is the national floral emblem of both the United States and England. Rachel and I have a fondness for roses more than any other flower. They’re a living symbol of love and devotion and their beauty lifts our spirits and makes us feel good. We feel fortunate to live in a home surrounded by a garden on three sides.   

June is the month when all roses come into bloom. Whether they bloom just once a year or throughout the entire growing season, June is when they put on their biggest show. Roses have a reputation for being difficult to grow, but they’re really not. The truth is, there’s a rose type that will respond to whatever amount of care your looking to provide, whether it’s a fussy hybrid tea or a carefree Knock Out. Roses are tough and resilient. The trick is finding the right one that suits your style. Even the most easy to care for roses have a few minimum requirements, but they’re not as demanding as you might think. Pruning and deadheading are necessary to keep your roses healthy and in constant bloom. The amount you cut back controls the size and shape of the rosebush. Without pruning, roses become a tangled thicket of unsightly deadwood and non-flowering canes. Deadheading is the process of removing spent blooms. This prevents the flowers from producing seeds which encourages the bush to make more blooms. Don’t hesitate to remove the flowers as they begin to fade. Use hand shears or just pop them off with your fingers.        

Each spring, remove all dead, diseased or spindly canes. Spindly is anything less than the diameter of a pencil. Dead canes will look black or brown. Cut them back until you find healthy tissue. Healthy rose tissue is green with a soft, creamy white center. If necessary cut them all the way down to the ground.  This sounds drastic, but it must be done. Remove any canes that are crossing or rubbing each other. Friction wounds can provide an entry way for insects and disease. You want to open up the bush so that it forms the shape of a vase. Opening up the center improves air circulation and lets in sunlight, which helps the rosebush dry faster and reduces the potential for fungal infections.

What about Knock Out roses? They require very little care. Cut them back to whatever size you want them to be. Just remember not to remove more than one-third of the bush at a time. If left unchecked, Knocks Outs can grow up to six feet tall and several feet wide. Knock Outs don’t really need to be deadheaded but they’ll look so much nicer if you do. Every reference will tell you to make your cuts at 45 degree angles, but don’t get too hung up about that. The point is to make the cut so that water droplets will run off.  It’s not necessary to seal your cuts with glue if you don’t have issues with boring insects. Prune to enhance the natural shape of the rosebush. Don’t worry about mistakes. Your roses will forgive you. Just have fun in your garden and enjoy the beautiful flowers.

Rachel and Ivan Minnis are avid gardeners. They live in Leavenworth. For more information, visit The Minnis Rose Garden on Facebook. Contact them at rnlyes@hotmail.com