Rose Buying: Good and Bad Sources
All Rose Bushes are not created equal. Some are diseased or stunted. Some are big and healthy. A good bush can give you up to a two year headstart on a healthy garden plant.
Rose Informational Page

by Bob Bauer
Mass Market Garden Departments of Stores
I'm talking here about places like Home Depot and Lowe's and big 'Everything' chains like Wal-Mart, KMart, Target and Fred Meyer etc. etc....... Places that have garden departments in the spring and summer. This is where the majority of people buy their roses. Why? because they are much cheaper and more readily available than most other suppliers. What you will find at these places are the same 200 varieties that you will find everywhere. Mostly they are All America Rose Selections from the past 30 years and the top selling 'favorites' of all time such as 'Peace', 'Double Delight', 'Fragrant Cloud', 'Tropicana','Queen Elizabeth' and 'Mr. Lincoln'. Notice something with this list? Yep, they are MOSTLY Hybrid Teas. The great majority of the roses sold at these places are Hybrid teas, with a few floribundas, grandifloras and maybe some Austins or Romanticas thrown in for good measure. Other types of roses are rare here, and predictably they will be the absolutely most common varieties of their classes: Like the polyanthas 'The Fairy' or 'Margo Koster',or the Bourbons 'Zepherine Drouhin' or Madame Isaac Periere. Or the Hybrid Perpetuals 'Frau Karl Drushki', 'Paul Neyron' and 'Baronne Prevost'. You will NEVER find Noisettes, Gallicas, Mosses or even Hybrid Musks. However, if you really check every bag or pot and keep your eyes opens there are some great gems here and there in amongst the 100 pots of 'Peace'. It is worth looking and checking. But you really need to know what you are doing in order to make the best decision here. Also it is very important to beware of scraggly and diseased looking plants! Don't EVER buy them. And don't EVER buy a bare root rose that does not have healthy thick green canes. If the canes are brown and dried out looking, the rose is dying or dead. If it doesn't look healthy and happy now, it will not perform well in your garden. Even if it does come out of it, it may take up to a couple of years to recover it's full vigor.
How to Grow Page
Round, Bulbous and Hardy
Margo Koster (Polyantha)
Rose Specialty Nurseries
Roses By Mail -- The province of the rose addict. This is the place for people 'in the know'. The selection is awesome. Over 10,000 varieties in every category of rose ever hybridized is available somewhere by mail order. Some of the mail order companies are huge and sell roses in the millions, i.e. Jackson and Perkins. Others are small businesses employing 5 to 20 people. And some are tiny home businesses with one full time employee/owner and a little bit of part time help. The Majority of these companies have one thing in common: they love roses! They love everything about them, and want to be immersed in the business. It is a tough business, and most of these small companies don't make a lot of money, but taken as a whole, the level of rose knowledge is truly awesome. The prices are all over the map, but generally more expensive than the Mass Market companies, plus you need to include shipping costs. Also the business practices of these companies are all over the map, so you have to do a little research to know how to separate the reputable from the slackers.

Many rose specialty nurseries sell roses that are grown on their own roots instead of being grafted onto root stock from another variety. Be advised that these roses are generally more healthy in the long run, but usually take an extra year or two to really get going. Also many of these nurseries will be selling plants that are considerably smaller in size than those that are grown by the big growers. But you usually don't have to worry about the health of the plant just because it is smaller, they will eventually take off and get up to full size. It will just take an extra year or maybe two. Don't let this dissuade you from buying however. Sometimes these places are your ONLY source for a particular cultivar. Many of these small growers have their own hybridizing programs, especially those nurseries that are selling miniature roses. You will be able to get some of these varieties ONLY at this one source.
Very Fragrant and Long Lasting
'Auguste Renoir'
Small Flowers In Quantity
Penelope (Hybrid Musk)
Your Local All purpose Nursery
Most nurseries provide the local market with bare root roses from the big suppliers that have been potted up and fully leafed out. Sometimes in full bloom. They will in general be the most expensive of the sources considered here. The selection is less than mail order, but greater than the 'super store' garden center. That said, the great advantage to buying from this source is that they will most likely have the healthiest, biggest and best specimens. Also, you get to have the thrill buying it now and taking it home and planting it immediately. Some of these roses will be in bloom when you buy them, so you can have instant garden if you wish. Many of these nurseries have an annoying habit of selling miniature roses at a higher price than other roses, when in the rest of the rose world, miniatures are far less expensive.

Occasionally you will find a local nursery that specializes in roses, or has a plant buyer on staff who really knows a lot about roses. If you find this nursery, you have hit the gold mine, a nursery like this one can really point you in all of the right directions and really help you with interesting and unusual varieties, as well as keeping up with the latest and greatest that the rose world is offering this year. Get to know the people there, and support them by spreading the word among your friends. The more successful they are, the better off YOU will be. I would go so far as to say that you should buy locally whenever it is possible. With a big and healthy fully leafed out number one grade rose bush, you can save a year or more of time to get your bush up to full size.
Blooms Look Like A Starburst
'Jean Giono'

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