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2021: The Year to Create Your Rose Garden

BY: Mary Jo Broussard, Mobile County Master Gardener

The fragrance of a rose is unmistakable and remarkable yet many think of growing their own roses as an impossible task. This could not be further from the truth.

Roses are perennials like many other perennials we grow with absolute success. They differ little in their needs: sunlight (6+ hours per day), good soil, good nutrition, good air circulation and the right amount of water. Simple enough. A challenge we face with roses is disease and insects, but how many of us have grown tomatoes or other plants without those concerns in Mobile County? None, I’d venture to say.

Okay, here’s how to do this successfully.

Cramoisi Superieur Rose, Photo by Mobile Botanical Gardens

Get the right rose to begin with, forgetting the Hybrid Teas (way too much care needed), go with an Old Garden rose instead. Some of these have been around for over 100 years, they require no spraying and little care, aside from deadheading rose hips to encourage repeat blooms. And Oh! That fragrance!

Some of my favorites are Cramoisi Superieur, Archduke Charles, Lady Banks (no thorns), Quietness, Old Blush, Martha Gonzales, Marie Pavie, Carefree Beauty, Caldwell Pink, Prosperity, Belinda’s Dream and Louis Phillipe to name a few. These run the color spectrum; some are shrubs and others are climbers. All repeat-bloom except Lady Banks. I also recommend the newer variety Drift roses. I have grown them for several years with absolutely no care except watering. (Editor: Several of Mary Jo’s favorites are available at Plantasia – see Garden events.)

Again, the key on the Gulf Coast is to give your plants plenty of sunshine, remember that our frequent rains will delete fertilizer to all your plants so care that you keep them fed and most of all to prevent diseases such as black spot, give them plenty of room to breathe and have good air circulation. This is no different than many of your other plant requirements.

Pruning is a good thing and easy to remember, Valentine’s Day or close to it. Begin by cutting out all the dead limbs. Next cut out limbs that rub or cross another one. Then cut back all remaining limbs to 1/3 height of shrub or climber. As you trim the limbs, favor the bud growth pointing away from the center of the bush, cutting the limb just above that bud. That way, your new growth will allow for more air circulation, not crowding toward the center.

When watering your roses, water only in the morning and aim at the base of the plant, not the leaves. Never water in the afternoon as that may leave water on leaves overnight, and with our natural humidity level could lead to disease.

It really is that simple and easy to remember. So, where do you find these beauties? Mobile Botanical Gardens will be featuring a selection at their upcoming sale. If you want a wider selection, you can order from Antique Rose Emporium.

Go smell the roses!

Spring Garden Events

What: 2021 Festival of Flowers, LoDa Style

Theme: All Creatures Great and Small

When: March 12-13, 9 am – 5 pm

with downtown area garden tours 10am-2pm

Mar 12, LoDa ArtWalk 6-9 pm

Where: Cathedral Square, Mobile

Fee: Donation of your choice

More info:

What: Guided 2-hour Garden Walk (half-mile)

See 75 newer varieties of camellias, 40 egrets

and hear the Great Blue Herons

When: March 13-14, 10 am - Noon

Where: Clark-Root Gardens, 2100 River Forest Rd, Mobile

Fee: Free

Register by calling: 251-753-0348

(leave name, phone # in case of event cancellation)

What: 2021 Plantasia, MBG Spring Plant Sale

In Person Shopping: Thur Mar 18 (1pm-4pm)

Fri Mar 19 and Sat Mar 20 (9 am-1 pm)

Where: Mobile Botanical Gardens MarketPlace

5151 Museum Drive, Mobile

What: Easter Egg Hunts on the Great Lawn

When: Saturday, March 27, 2021

Host: Bellingrath Gardens

Where: 12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore

Fee: Adults, $14. Children 5-12, $8.

More info:

What: Walk the Mobile Japanese Garden

Accessible entrance through trail #1

Where: 700 Forest Hill Drive, Mobile

When: Daylight hours daily

Fee: Free, but donations appreciated

More info:

What: Become a Mobile County MG in 2021

When: Classes (early August-early Nov)

Every Wednesday: 9am - 2:30 pm

Fee: For materials used in 12-week training

Where: 1070 Schillinger Rd N, Mobile

Or call 251-574-8445 or email

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