“Drought tolerant”, “desert plant species”, “drought resistant landscaping” – that’s not for me, you might think: Giving up on your roses might be a thought too painful to contemplate. And what you have heard about xeriscape designs seems to be a lot of “zero-scape” to you… Roses are thirsty – aren’t they?
I noticed the water-drop symbol by the names of many roses at WATER WISE BOTANICALS in Escondido (formerly Daylily Hill). That meant that these are “water-wise” – what are these roses about?
Tom Jesch of WaterWise Botanicals explained to me that we can indeed create a lush yet water-wise garden without depriving ourselves of these beauties. Have you ever noticed, along old highways in California, old abandoned farmhouses that still have a large rose bush clambering up its side? Nobody has cared for it in decades, and yet it still thriving. So what’s the secret?
The right selection
At Waterwise Botanicals, the roses with the water-drop symbol are the best of their shrub roses- those that flower the best, are most durable and the most water-wise.
English and Austin roses tend to be less water-wise, as well as many of the older European, double and heavily petaled varieties, or ones that have a growth characteristic very similar to Hybrid Teas.
The right establishment
For the first 2 weeks after planting: Water your roses almost every day, and deeply; thus they get their roots down deeply. Add extra nitrogen fertilizer for the first 3-6 months to develop lush foliage.
For the next weeks/lasting 2-3 months: Go to a deep watering schedule: 2 days on, 2 days off, 1 day on, 1 day off, and then repeat that cycle. It’s the repeated deep watering that gets the roots deep so that eventually the watering cycle can be stretched.
After 2-3 months: Go to a cycle that is 2 days on (or 2 cycles on 1 day, 1 morning/1 evening), then 5-6 days off; repeat cycle.
If you keep this schedule for the first 1-2 years (consider also how dry your weather is; wet winters speed up the establishment of your plants) you will have established roses that can do very well by receiving a good deep watering (two days in a row, or twice in one day) and then off, for up to 10 days or more, during the hottest part of the summer, in most California coastal, and coastal inland valleys.
For your next project, consider these (these look more like Rockroses without their early demise and unruly spread):
Rose Nearly Wild (see above); height 2’ by 3’ spread; hardy to -15° . Full to part sun. Rose pink, white center blooms during spring to fall.
Rose Sharon’s Delight. Height 2′ , width 3′. Hardy to -15°; full to part sun. White blooms during spring to fall.
Visit the fabulous demonstrations gardens and naturalistic pond at WaterWise Botanicals, and see many more exciting roses at www.waterwisebotanicals.com