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Rose terms for a beginning gardener

Oh joy! Spring is right around the corner. Time to start thinking about that first rose garden. For a beginning gardener, that means reading up on how to get started with their first rose garden or pruning a rose bush the former homeowner left.

Check out a few tips to help you start your first spring rose garden.
Check out a few tips to help you start your first spring rose garden.
Smelling a spring rose
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Thanks to Rose Magazine, here is a partial list of terms most commonly associated with a rose garden, terms that a beginning gardener should know to deal with an existing rose bush and any remaining stalk (or cane) to help grow a nice spring rose bush with plenty of beautiful blooms.

As Rose Magazine says, “Reading about roses will be more informative if you know and understand these terms”.

Annual - a plant that completes its life cycle in one growing season.

Asexual Production – the producing of a new rose bush plant by any method but seeds.

Balled – a term used to describe a rose bud that has not opened properly and has rotted on the rose bush.

Bare Root - a dormant, pruned rose bush plant that is sold without soil.

Basal Break – a strong, new cane growing from the bud union.

Biennial - a plant that completes its life cycle in two growing seasons.

Blind Shoot - a non-flowering growth that must be removed to enable the rose bush plant to expend its energy on creating flowers for a rose garden rather than foliage.

Bud Union - the swelling on the bottom of a plant stem where the graft on a cane is joined with the rootstock.

Climber - a vigorously growing variety of rose bush that has a cane of up to 20 feet in length. Climbers are often sports of rose bush forms of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. Training the long canes in a horizontal position will produce more blooms. A climber does not attach itself but must be tied onto a trellis or support for the rose bush.

Cultivar - a contraction of the term “cultivated variety”. A rose bush plant that has been bred or cultivated by man and is not found growing wild in nature.

Deadhead - to prune off faded flower heads. Cutting back the stem (or cane) to an outward facing bud will encourage the plant to make more flower buds and blooms. Unless you desire ornamental hips in the fall, all roses should be regularly deadheaded to prolong the growing season and create more blooms.

Dieback - when tips, shoots or canes die, due to disease or damage.

Disbudding - removing excess buds to encourage fewer but larger flower blooms

Dormancy - the temporary stop in growth during the winter months.

Floribunda - produce clusters of flowers all season long and are generally bushier and more disease resistant than Hybrid Teas. They usually grow to about 3 feet high.

Graft - the variety that was used to insert into the rootstock so that they join together and grow.

Grandiflora - tall and vigorous cane up to 8 feet tall, they have the flower form of the Hybrid Tea but the hardiness and clustering cane of the Floribunda.

Hardiness - the resilience of a plant to cold, drought or disease. Any beginning gardener should heed this term.

Heirloom Roses - another term for antique or old roses; those that were introduced before 1867.

Hips - the seedpod or fruit of the rose. Hips are produced in a wide assortment of bright fall colors and shapes and are generally more predominant in old garden roses that flower once a year.

Hybrid - the offspring that is the result of the crossing of two different species, cultivars or varieties; this is usually produced artificially in cultivation.

Own-root - a rose that grows on its own cane roots, propagated through cuttings or seeds, rather than being grafted onto rootstock.

Perennials - a plant that flowers and lives for many years, sometimes dying down in the winter and coming up again in the spring.

Ramblers - Ramblers are not sports like climbers; they are a distinct type of rose. Ramblers have flexible canes and flower once in early summer on canes that grew the previous year. They are very vigorous and can grow 30 feet in every direction.

Rootstock - the understock or base of the plant onto which the variety of rose is grafted. Some common rootstocks are Dr. Huey, Multiflora, and Rosa Canina.

Rose Propagation - to dig up rooted shoots from the main plant or to take cuttings of a specimen plant.

Self-sowing - plants that propagate themselves by dropping seeds to produce new plants the next year.

Shovel Pruning - digging up and discarding an unwanted plant from the garden.

Species Roses - roses that grow in the wild.

Sport - an unusual change in growth or color that can occur on an established variety, usually the result of a natural mutation. A climbing rose is an example of a growth sport.

Spray - a group of blooms on a single stem.

Sucker - An unwanted growth that comes from below the bud union on a grafted rose. This is the growth of the understock and must be removed. Suckers usually have leaves of a different color and shape than that of the cultivar. It is important to rip off the sucker directly from the rootstock; simply cutting it off will stimulate it to regrow.

Wind-rock - winter winds can loosen the roots of roses making them more susceptible to damage. Shortening the long cane of roses in the fall will reduce the risk.

A beginning gardener should check Rose Magazine for other terms on the list not shown in this article.

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