Garden Fails: Learning From My Rose Garden Mistakes

By Mary Ellen Ellis | February 9, 2021
Image by olympuscat
by Mary Ellen Ellis
February 9, 2021

Garden fails may be disappointing, or even embarrassing, but they are totally normal. Yes, you can learn a lot from books and classes, but you only really learn how to garden by trying it. Trying can inevitably mean failing. Even those of us gardening for years still make mistakes in the garden. Take heart from that fact and get back out there to try again. 

Rose Garden Mistakes

I make mistakes in the garden every year, including big ones and little ones. Roses, however, are always high on my lists of failures. The truth is that roses don’t have to be hard to grow. They have a difficult reputation, but once you learn what they need – through trial and error in my case – they’re reliable bloomers. 

Here’s what I didn’t know about growing roses when I decided I would grow some just because I always wanted roses in the garden: 

  • They need a decent amount of sun, between six and eight hours per day. 
  • Rose roots need a deep hole and prefer loose soil.
  • They should have uniformly moist, but not too moist, soil.
  • Roses love being pruned.
  • Disease-resistant varieties are best.

A Short List of My Rose Garden Fails

I listed the above facts about growing roses because these are the areas in which I failed before learning. Here are some of my rose garden fails: 

  • I knew my first rose bush would need sunlight, but I still chose a poor spot. I didn’t realize a rose could get too much sun on hot afternoons and I baked that first plant. I now know that morning sun is best and a little shelter from late day sun is ideal. 
  • That first plant also suffered from the way I put it in the ground. I admit I got a little lazy digging and also didn’t bother to amend the soil. Roses prefer loose soil. My soil tends toward heavy clay. I needed to dig a nice, deep hole to fit the roots and to loosen up and add some organic matter to the soil to make it really happy.
  • With my second rose bush, I got the first two elements right. Then, I overwatered it. I had read that roses like moist soil. Well, I forgot to consider the heaviness of my soil and I ended up with root rot. Now I monitor conditions and adjust watering as needed. 
  • Roses need to be pruned, that I knew, but I hesitated to prune them too hard those first few years. When I finally mastered heavy pruning in the early spring, my rose bushes really took off and produced massive amounts of flowers. 
  • When first growing roses, I neglected to choose my varieties carefully. Instead of doing my homework, I picked the ones with the colors I liked. I then lost a hundred dollars in bushes to diseases that destroyed the leaves. Now I only use disease-resistant roses to make gardening easier. 

I can’t tell you how many times things went wrong in the garden over the years. Every time you make a mistake though, you get one step closer to becoming a master gardener, so don’t give up.

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