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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Rose Gardening in Containers

Growing roses in tubs, barrels, planters or other containers is a reflection of how today’s society wants both versatility and mobility in their home and garden designs. Portable rose plantings are not only a decorative addition to any part of the outdoor living area. They are also a perfect way to change the look of the landscape from month to month or year to year.

Roses in pots extend the scope and possibilities of gardening. Wide walkways can be highlighted with tubs of roses spotted here and there. Steps to the front or back door can be graced with the beauty and fragrance of roses. Miniature roses can dress up window boxes in the summer, and then be brought indoors in winter to perk up the house.

Patios, decks and terraces have become favorite spots for entertaining and relaxing on warm summer days and evenings. Planters teeming with the color and fragrance of the world's favorite flower add to the pleasure of these moments. At night, a white or pastel rose, such as Cherish, French Lace, or Rose Parade illuminates a dark setting. Bring color right down to the swimming pool with pots of roses set around the perimeter.

If you have a spot for a hanging basket, fill it with miniature roses for a continuous display of summer color, then move the basket indoors for the winter. Select a trailing variety and let the flowers cascade from tree limbs, overhangs, and brackets.

For gardeners “without a garden”, containers make it possible to grow roses on balconies, terraces, and rooftops that are high above city streets. The limited gardening space that comes with condos, town houses and brownstones can be multiplied with portable planters.

Movable roses should be the shorter?growing varieties of the modern?day hybrid roses because they are more compact and have great flourishes of flowers throughout the summer. Good selections are New Year, Showbiz, Impatient, Intrigue, Sun Flare, Mon Cheri, Marina, Charisma, First Edition, Cathedral, Bahia, Electron, Redgold, Gene Boerner, Angel Face, Europeana, Garden Party, Sarabande, or Ivory Fashion.

Tree roses of all sizes are perfect for containers and should be placed wherever an accent is needed. Plant colorful geraniums, sweet alyssum, or other annuals at the base to fill in the void, soften the lines, and create two levels of interest.

Containers can be any shape—round or hexagonal—as long as they are 18 inches across and 14 inches deep for proper root development (except for minis, which can grow in smaller containers). Use pots made of plastic, clay, terra cotta, ceramic, metal or wood. All they need to be effective is drainage at the bottom. If you're working with a planter that does not have drainage holes, add a thick layer of gravel at the bottom of the container so the roots do not become waterlogged. Pots can be heavy and difficult to move about, so casters are an excellent addition.

All roses need at least six hours of sun each day. Ideally, place movable roses where they receive morning sun and some protection from the midday heat. Also, try to keep them out of drying winds. If the plants receive uneven sun and start growing in one direction to reach the light, rotate them often to keep their growth straight.

Roses in containers will need more water than the same roses in the ground. Not only are all sides of the container subject to drying sun and winds, there is also no ground water to fall back on. Watch planters carefully and water whenever the growing medium starts to dry out. Water until moisture runs from the bottom of the container. A layer of mulch on top of the planter will help keep the roots of the roses moist and cool.

Planting medium for containers should be rich and well drained. A packaged or homemade mix of half organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, and half perlite or vermiculite is ideal. Just as roses in pots must be watered often, they must also be fertilized frequently. Feed each week with a soluble fertilizer at 1/4 strength for even growth and flowering.

When winter comes, move the pots into an unheated but frost?free area, keep the soil slightly moist, cover with plastic and return them to the outdoors in spring.

Roses—Breeding and Toughness

The thousands of different roses available today all trace their heritage back to 12 dozen or so species-roses that grow in the wild. The process of developing and obtaining new roses is called hybridization. In this process, the pollen from one plant fertilizes the ovary of another. The plants from the resulting seeds will all be different.

This process can happen naturally, thanks to bees and other pollinating insects. Man can also create hybrids, and in the last 100-plus years, has raised it to a fine art, continually improving both flowers and plants. The overall procedure is lengthy—the time from the initial crossing to when the plant is introduced to the public is seven to ten years of painstaking work.

Before the cross is made, the hybridizer selects the parent plants, taking into account color, form, hardiness, disease resistance, foliage, etc. Next, the outer petals of the selected parents are removed, exposing the reproductive organs. All roses have both male and female parts. In the center of the flower are the female organs—pistils and bare pollen?producing anthers.

To prevent self?pollination, the anthers are removed on the "mother" plants. The anthers on the "father" plant are harvested, labeled, and stored. About a day later, a sticky substance forms on the stigmas. The anthers release the dust?size pollen at about the same time, at which point it is brushed on the stigmas.

The rose is now labeled with information such as date and parentage. A bag is placed over the pollinated flower, protecting it from any further pollination. If fertilization occurred, the area beneath the reproductive organs begins to swell. This is the hip, or fruit, of the rose. It ripens in several months, is harvested, and the seeds removed.

The seeds are then cleaned and stratified, a process in which the seeds are placed in small containers of peat moss and stored at 40 degrees F. for six weeks, before being planted. Growing in a greenhouse, the first flowers may appear within seven to eight weeks after germination, giving an indication of this new plant's potential.

A hybridizer may look over as many as a hundred thousand seedlings each year, with 99 percent discarded at some point during the first growing season. What makes this part of the job even more difficult than it sounds is that sometimes a promising?looking seedling will not do well when budded onto rootstock and grown outdoors. Conversely, an average?appearing plant may exhibit something special when bud?grafted and grown on.

The seedlings that pass muster are now ready for field testing and evaluation. More than just one plant is needed for this, so the original seedling is propagated. In order to have additional plants exactly like the parent, new ones are started by taking a cutting of a piece of stem that is the bud, or eye, found at the point where the leaf joins the stem. This is grafted onto a rootstock—a rooted cutting of another rose.

Grafting is necessary because on their own, many of today's complex hybrids root poorly or erratically. Most garden roses are grown on a variety of multi-flora rose. Buds are taken from dormant plants in late fall and grafted the following spring or summer.

It is as budded, field?grown plants that these new roses really begin to "show off." More are discarded and a few are budded in larger quantities for further testing. Only about 100 make it to the second budding.

This process continues for at least another two to four years until only a handful remain. Some of the most promising are entered for judging by the All?America Rose Selections (AARS). Four plants of each variety are sent to the 23 different AARS test gardens around the country for two more years of observation. Once a company is ready to introduce a variety, large quantities of plants are budded and grown to marketable age –a period of another two years.

Long and arduous, the process of hybridization is now complete. The new variety—superior in any number of ways, be it color, fragrance, foliage, hardiness, disease resistance, etc—is now ready to bloom and grow beautifully in yards all over the country. Who knows? It may be the best seller, the one topping PEACE, a variety which has sold over 20 million plants since 1945 with one found in nearly every home rose garden.

One characteristic that most people expect of a rose is fragrance. Watch someone walk by roses in full bloom. First, there'll be an exclamation over color or beauty, but inevitably, the head will bend in expectation of that special scent we've come to expect.

Many years ago Alice Morse Earle wrote, "The fragrance of the sweetest rose is beyond any other flower scent, it is irresistible, enthralling; you cannot leave it. I have never doubted the rose has some compelling quality not shared by other flowers. I do not know whether it comes from some inherent witchery of the plant, but it certainly exists."

Elusive and mysterious, the fragrance of roses and the romance surrounding it is legendary. For instance, Cleopatra supposedly entertained Marc Anthony in a room filled with 18 inches of rose petals, and the sails of her ship were soaked with rose water so that "the very winds were lovesick." In the 1300's, Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, whose beauty ritual included quantities of rose water, was, at the age of 72, able to successfully woo the King of Poland. At a 17th century Persian royal wedding, rose petals were floated on garden canals filled with rose water. Such lavishness attests to both the literal and figurative power of rose fragrance.

Some of the mystery and illusion of rose fragrance may, in part, be due to the fact that there are actually over two dozen different kinds of rose scent, with some roses having a mixture of these various perfumes.

The seven basic scents that are most often found in hybrid tea roses include rose, nasturtium, orris, violet, apple, lemon and clover. Some of the other scents are fern or moss, hyacinth, orange, bay anise, lily?of?the?valley, linseed oil, honey, wine, marigold, quince, geranium, peppers, parsley and raspberry.

In general, the most highly scented roses are ones that are either darker in color, have more petals to the flower or have thick, velvety petals. Another correlation is that the red and pink roses are most likely to smell like a "rose”, while white and yellow blooms lean to orris, nasturtium, violet, or lemon. Orange?shaded roses will usually have fruity scents such as orris, nasturtium, violet, or clover.

Rose fragrance will be strongest on warm, sunny days when the soil is moist because that is when the production of the scent ingredients increases. Often, a rose that is fragrant in the morning is no longer so by late afternoon. Another interesting aspect to fragrance is that it is affected by disease. Mildew, especially, will cause a loss of scent.

MISTER LINCOLN is one of the best roses for potpourri because it keeps its strong scent after drying.

No discussion of roses and fragrance is immune to the argument that the "new" roses just don't have the strong, sweet smell of the "old" roses. Nostalgia withstanding, "it ain't necessarily so."

Dr. W.E. Lammerts, a rose scientist, performed an in?depth analysis in 1951 and found that quite a few of the older rose varieties were either only moderately scented, or had no scent at all. In 1956, Dr. James A. Gamble reported in the American Rose Annual that on examination of 3,900 rose varieties, both old and new, 25% were scentless, 20% strongly scented, and the rest had some scent.