© 2019 Gardeners of Greater Cleveland

Stuart Kline, American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian

Growing Roses

By Carol Poh


Growing roses in northeast Ohio was the subject of an illustrated talk by Stuart Kline at the October meeting. Species roses, old European garden roses, hardy repeat-blooming roses, shrub roses, modern roses (including hybrid tea, floribunda, grandiflora, climbers).


Kline, who has been growing roses for 60 years, is an American Rose Society consulting rosarian. Established in 1892, ARS is the oldest and largest single-plant horticultural society, with more than 10,000 members. During his talk, Kline circulated the society’s bi-monthly magazine, American Rose, and its annual Handbook for Selecting Roses. The Buckeye District of ARS dates to 1932.


To source roses, Kline recommended helpmefind.com. (The site is also useful for sourcing clematis and peonies.) He explained the pros and cons of buying budded versus own-root roses (the former may not be winter hardy, the latter are often more winter hardy). Kline is a proponent of buying own-root roses from reputable nurseries by mail order in January—no later—for the best selection. He has a low opinion of Knock Out® roses and of roses sold by big-box stores. For what to plant and where, he recommended Right Rose, Right Place by Peter Schneider (Storey Publishing, 2009).


Roses need not be intimidating, said Kline: think of them as just another shrub. They need 5 hours or more sun daily (“not 4½ hours, not 4¾”; a.m. sun is better than p.m. sun); good drainage, including placement away from the dripline of trees; a planting mix composed of equal parts good quality topsoil, compost, and sand. Do some digging—don’t put “a $40 rose in a $2 hole.”


Proper care requires mulching (2-4 inches), fertilizing (10-10-10 or 12-12-12—“the plant doesn’t care which”) in May, June/July, and August; and watering when the soil is dry 2-3 inches below the surface. To avoid the dreaded black-spot, avoid overhead watering—or water in the morning, allowing time for the leaves to dry before nightfall. Kline discussed the other perils that can beset roses: powdery mildew, downy mildew, aphids, Japanese beetles, and spider mites. He was loath to recommend specific commercial products to annihilate these. Prune roses in April, cutting the stem back to healthy tissue. Clean leaves out of rose beds before winter.

May 14th Program Speaker