JARS v58n3 - Roses and Rhododendrons

Roses and Rhododendrons
Dr. Mark Konrad
Sewickley, Pennsylvania

Some would say that growing rhododendrons and roses together is an unlikely combination. But I have not found this to be so.

A few roses scattered around your rhododendron garden can be quite complementary. The relatively long blooming seasons of roses often fills a void in the mid and late summer giving visitors something to appreciate at this time.

Roses seem to be tolerant of a wide pH range (the ideal is between 5.5-6.5). Other considerations are these:

1. Roses prefer as much sun as possible.

2. The plants do best in a rich soil with adequate fertilization.

3. Good soil drainage along with good air circulation is also recommended.

To reduce the amount of maintenance the following is helpful.

1. Propagate by cuttings. This allows the plants to regenerate from below in case of winterkill.

2. To help reduce disease and insect infestation scatter the plants around the garden rather than using group plantings.

3. Arrange to have a simple spraying routine. This can be done on a very casual basis when walking through and enjoying your garden.

A simple method of propagation is to use 2 1/4-inch (5.6cm) peat pots placed inside 10-inch (25cm) white hanging containers. A peat-perlite combination used for the medium. To maintain humidity until rooting occurs, a thin plastic cover is used which is secured with a string attached to a rubber band. Cuttings can be taken from mid to late summer. Rooting usually takes place in a matter of weeks.

Summary: The value of roses as companion plants to a rhododendron garden has been generally described but the above information does not include all aspects of rose culture.

Dr. Konrad is a member of the Great Lakes Chapter.