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How to grow stop-and-smell-worthy roses

By Linda Guy, Bellingrath Rosarian

During this time of year, the roses bloom in Bellingrath’s Rose Garden and the Gulf Coast is inundated with springtime rains and our notorious humidity. That combination leaves us – and other rose growers – warding off the dreaded black spot. Black spot is the primary fungal disease that plagues rose growers in humid climates, and is also the biggest chore, because there is no effective shortcut to dealing with it.

The key to preventing black spot is a preventative maintenance spraying schedule and using rose varieties that are disease-resistant. Taking time before you see a problem is key to insuring a healthy rose garden.


Steps for creating a preventative maintenance spraying schedule:

  1. Apply a contact and systemic fungicide every 11 to 14 days.
  2. Alternate two systemic fungicides (such as Propiconazole or Armada) every 11 to 14 days to combat black spot.
  3. For an established rose garden, add a contact fungicide – such as mancozeb (sold under several trade names, most notably, Dithane) – to every tank.

*Always follow label directions for application rates. Also, many of these fungicides are not often available in local garden centers, but they can be found online.


Tips for planting a disease-resistant rose garden:

If you are beginning a rose garden or looking to change out some disease-laden roses, you can plan ahead by planting disease-resistant rose varieties. Many of these varieties have cut-flower qualities which are lacking in other shrub varieties. A few disease-resistant varieties in the Bellingrath Rose Garden are:

  • Mother of Pearl
  • Lady Elsie Mae
  • Sunshine Daydream

Roses are not the most low-maintenance plant, and maintaining a healthy, disease-resistant rose garden requires taking preventative measures. However, by using a regular spraying schedule, and by swapping out old disease-ridden plants with new disease-resistant varieties, it’s possible to create a successful rose garden, which can be very rewarding. All of your hard work will make you want to take time to “stop and smell the roses.”


Linda Guy is an accomplished rosarian and has been sharing her wealth of knowledge with Bellingrath Gardens and Home for more than 31 years. She cares for Bellingrath’s Rose Garden, which contains over 2,000 roses in more than 75 varieties, and has her own 300–400 roses at home. Linda has a master’s degree in religious education, has taught rose seminars for continuing education at the University of South Alabama and speaks at garden clubs around the area. To top it all off, Linda has also been a consulting rosarian and horticultural judge with the American Rose Society. Visit the Bellingrath Rose Garden to see a few of Linda’s many accomplishments.