Roses are one of the most popular plants among Georgia gardeners even though growing roses in the southern climate can be challenging. Their large, fragrant blooms can be cheery and dramatic. Proper site preparation and planning and knowing which rose varieties to choose is the key to success.

Before getting to the fun part of choosing a rose variety to grow, let’s talk about growing conditions. Every single rose, whether bush or climber likes lots of sun. “Lots of sun” means at least 6 hours a day of full sun shining directly on the plant. Secondly, whether you are planting roses in a bed or a border, they need good air circulation. How do you give a plant good air circulation? You space the rose bushes about four or five feet from one another, and from any fences, houses, walls or other plants. This gives the leaves room to dry out from rain, watering or morning dew. Damp leaves are a breeding ground for disease and fungus.

Just as important, is the composition and condition of the soil in your rose bed. If you’ve got clay, you’re going to need to amend the soil to allow air circulation there, too. The problem with clay is that it is so dense that the water does not drain away well, and there are few air pockets where the roots grow. Mixing in humus like compost, shredded bark or leaves, composted pine bark, even bagged “soil amendment” will lighten up the texture of the clay to let water drain away and air to reach the roots.
I wouldn’t be a good county agent if I didn’t recommend doing a soil test. Follow the fertility recommendations from the test and add amendments, if needed.

When it’s time to plant your roses, dig a hole in the prepared soil, making the hole about three times wider than the container the rose plant came in. If you’re planting a bare root rose, make the hole at least 24” to 30” wide. Set the plant in. Shovel the amended soil back in and gently firm the soil with your foot around the plant. You want the soil to be in good contact with the roots, but not compacted.
Water in well, and keep the rose watered weekly throughout the first growing season or two.

Now, for the fun part! What roses do well in Georgia? That’s another of those multi-part answers. Roses
in a perfect situation are long lived and hardy plants. They come in a wide variety of colors, types, and flowering habits. Varieties of roses can be classified as: Hybrid Teas- the most frequently used type for cut flowers, Floribundas- create dense clusters of tiny flowers, Grandifloras- similar to hybrid teas but with smaller flowers, Old fashioned roses- include many traditional European varieties, Standard (tree) roses- tall, upright form of grafted branches on a trunk, and Climbing roses – require supports to hold their long canes, do well on a trellis or arbor.

With good site selection, bed preparation, and variety selection, you can enjoy the beauty of roses in your landscape for years to come. For more information of rose selection and care, contact me at or 706-795-2281.

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