Caring for roses in the Arizona Desert
This list has been compiled by several members of our forum. Of course- everyone has their favorite ways to grow roses and the outline below is simply to give you some guidelines.
Roses in the desert do best with afternoon shade. If you must plant on the west side or out in full sun, make a shade cloth canopy for them for the hotter summer months- June through Sept. Wherever you put them, the need more water than you think is enough! More water=happier roses, as long as drainage is pretty good. Some mild fertizlier often, and more water, water, water. They'll live with less water, but they like more better!
You can grow roses in full sun even here in Phoenix, some people even have them on a western wall, that gets blasted by the intense sun all day long. Water is, as noted, a major element. Many varieties seem to appreciate a little sun relief in the summer hot'n'dries. Some don't bloom as well in shade, but some find it safe to say that many hybrid teas appreciate it. It also helps keep the ground a little cooler so it doesn't dry out as quickly. If someone is new to rose growing is going to have more success with some shade to get the nicest blooms. Not solid shade but filtered shade, from a tree, whatever- you'd be amazed at the difference even a 25% shade structure makes in how your roses get through the summer months.... they will think they are in a resort! :)
Mulch- don't forget to mulch your roses heavily. It helps keep those roots nice and cool. 4-6 inches of mulch on top of the rose beds makes all the difference in the world in our summer sun. They do much better and it helps on the water bill! Pine needles are an excellen mulch, if you are lucky and can get your hands on alfalfa hay, perhaps with the 'proceeds' from sheep, goat or horse (allow the horse proceeds to cool down and break down first) use it to mulch your roses. Roses like the alfalfa as it breaks down. You can also use leaves and bark mulch from eucalyptus or straw as mulch. Anything thats organic that is available works best.
Roses should be pruned in January- after they have finished blooming.
Feeding- Roses are heavy feeders and appreciate being fed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A good rose food works fine, or you may use fish emulsion, 1 Tablespoon for each gallon of water, 2 gallons of the mixture per rose- except minatures- give them 1/2 gallon per plant. This may be fed until the temperatures reach into the 90-100's, then switch to Miracle Grow (or your favorite rose food)at 1/2 strength. If you use any high nitrogen fertilizer at full strength in the high temps, you can severely burn your rose roots and foliage. Fertilizing should be done in the late afternoon when the sun is setting. This will reduce the possibility of the fertilizer burning the rose foliage.
If you get spider mites, use a strong show of water to rise off the top and bottoms of the leaves of each bush. Since it is so hot and dry here, it is best to do this in the late afternoon. Our extremely dry climate makes this acceptable and it works well, unlike other areas where afternoon watering may cause problems.
Continue feeding 1/2 strength of your favorite rose food until December. In December you will be enjoying lovely roses in your garden and cut and in vases in your house.