Tagawa Gardens Blog

Ever wonder why roses are right at home in Colorado?

Did you know that roses love Colorado? Our mile-high sunshine and low humidity keep the flower colors rich and dense and the foliage less prone to diseases that plague other parts of the country.

And for the record, there’s a reason why the Tagawa logo includes a rose.

For several years before Tagawa’s opened as a retail garden center in 1982, our focus was on growing long-stem roses, the kind available at florist shops. We grew beautiful, fragrant roses! In fact, Colorado was once known for its long-stem roses and cut-flower carnations.  Our last crop of long-stem roses was in 1996. Then we switched to being a full-blown garden center and for growing roses, annuals, and other potted flowers right here on the premises for our community. At one time, roses were our lifeblood. And in many ways, roses are still a very big part of what we do.

It’s one of the reasons Tagawa Gardens is known throughout this region as the place to buy roses.  We’re beginning this season with 230 varieties… many on display now, with many more to come during the next several weeks. In total, our Rose Department will be offering about 6800 plants, many of them planted and grown to flowering right here at Tagawa’s. Told ya we love roses!

yellow roses at tagawa gardens centennial colorado denver

We want to share our love of roses with you, especially if you’ve never grown roses before… or struggled to grow them…  and don’t quite know how to begin.

The new champion of our Rose Department

Richard became Tagawa’s new Rose Department Supervisor at the end of last year when Tom retired.

Richard is a college-trained botanist, and he really gets roses. He has just written an excellent new handout titled “You just bought a Tagawa rose bush. Now what?” The handout is free and available in our Rose Department, along with several other rose-focused guides that address topics like “The Basics of Rose Care” and “Spring and Summer Rose Questions.” These are hot off the presses and you’ll find them in-store. You’ll also find many other handouts online in our Garden Library under “Outdoor.” 

I like Richard’s handouts so much…

…that I’m about to quote from them liberally.  So if you’re tempted by the idea of growing roses… or just want some refresher tips and tricks on how to succeed with roses in Colorado, here are a few things you should know.

Acclimating or “hardening off”

Anytime you buy a plant that’s been growing and displayed indoors, please don’t just run home and plop it into the ground. It needs time to adjust to its new surroundings and issues like widespread temperature changes, lower humidity, wind, and full sun.

Acclimate your Tagawa roses by taking a full week to introduce them slowly to their new environment. Dappled shade the first day, shielded from the wind, and maybe brought into a very protected area for a night or two, depending on the forecast.

Day by day, slowly introduce more potential challenges… a little more wind… a little more direct sunshine. Never forget to keep your roses well-watered (but never soggy) during this adjustment period.

At the end of the week of hardening off, your roses will have adjusted to their new life and will be almost ready to plant. Hardening off can make a huge difference in how well they establish and grow to be healthy and robust.

Time for a little tough love

Once your roses have been acclimated, and before you plant them, prune them back hard!  Using sharp disinfected pruners, remove half of the rose’s foliage and all of the blossoms and buds.

trimming roses at tagawa gardens centennial colorado denver

Ouch!  We know, but you’ll be forcing the plant to put all of its energy into its roots.  Strong, happy roots help make for a thriving rose bush.  It just makes sense.

When it’s time to plant…

…amend the planting hole with one-third compost to two-thirds existing soil.   If your soil is quite sandy, even more, compost is a good idea, so amend 50/50 soil to compost.

Don’t fertilize your new rose when you plant it or anytime during the first season.  Fertilizer can push the foliage to grow before the root system is fully established.  Richard’s handout has excellent instructions on how to fertilize roses in their second season and beyond.

If your rose has been grafted (Tagawa’s Rose Department crew will be happy to clarify), be sure to plant so the graft is set two to three inches below the soil line to protect that tender union from winter weather.

Watering, mulching, and seasonal pruning

When you plant your new rose, water deeply until you know water is getting down to the bottom of the root ball. Throughout the seasons to come, continue to water your roses deeply when the top two inches of the root ball feels dry to the touch. Make sure the water penetrates four to six inches to the lowest roots. Using a moisture meter can help. Water again when the top two inches of the root ball feels dry.

watering roses at tagawa gardens centennial colorado denver

Water at ground level rather than with an overhead sprinkler to help reduce leaf diseases like mildew. Winter watering roses is also a must when the snowfall fails to deliver significant moisture on its own.

A three- to four-inch layer of mulch applied at planting time will help to keep your rose from drying out too quickly.

Summer pruning techniques for roses depend on the type of rose you’re growing. Richard’s handouts have diagrams with excellent pruning advice based on the shape of the rose bush.  Our Tagawa rose staff will also be more than happy to guide you.

And I just had to ask…

I couldn’t walk away from my chat with Richard without asking him what his favorite rose for fragrance might be. He has several, it seems, but “Mr. Lincoln” is near the top of his list.

mr lincoln rose at tagawa gardens centennial colorado denver

Mr. Lincoln is an award-winning rose considered by some experts to be the best red rose on the market. Our Mr. Lincolns will be in bloom soon, so you can see (smell) for yourself!

Our rose department is opening!

Tagawa’s Rose Department is opening for the season starting Friday, April 16th. Hundreds of roses are already up and growing, and many are in bloom. They’ll be available for purchase at their regular price.

With so many to choose from, and so many more yet to come, taking a wander through Tagawa’s roses is a lovely way to spend some time. Whether you’re considering starting a new rose garden of your own, or already growing roses and would love to have more, Tagawa’s Rose Department is the place to be as rose-growing season begins! Say “hi” to Richard. And don’t forget to look for his information-packed handouts. We’re looking forward to seeing you!

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Luan Akin
About 
Luan Akin
Tagawa Gardens Outreach Ambassador

After 30 years as a news reporter for KCNC TV in Denver, Luan Akin was ready for a change. In 2008, she came to Tagawa Gardens and offered to create a brand new position: Garden Outreach Ambassador.

Luan had trained and volunteered as a Douglas County Master Gardener for ten years. In addition to her duties as a news reporter, working primarily out of the Channel 4 News helicopter, Luan also produced and presented a long-running series of stories called “Gardening Together.”

All these years later, Luan now works year ‘round, presenting a variety of gardening and nature-related topics to hundreds of children, HOA’s, gardening clubs, church groups, small businesses and other organizations.

She is an avid gardener, a beekeeper and a proud mom to four dogs who have trained her well.

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