Photo courtesy of Dave and Deb Boyd
Member rose, peony and clematis garden Listing last updated on 05 Dec 2023.
Billings, Montana 59101
USDA Zone: 5a (-20 to -15 F / -28.8 to -26.2 C)
We grow mostly hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras and minis. We are in the Yellowstone River valley (about a half mile from the river). Elevation is 3500 feet and the climate is semi-desert. Average moisture is approx 13 inches per year. Humidity is usually very low. Blackspot is not a problem but powdery mildew can be. There are aphids occasionally. Leafcutter bees love to use our roses for building material. Rose slugs are around but are only a problem after a warm winter. Earwigs get to be problem in late summer. Ours haven't read 'expert' opinion that they won't munch on roses. Earwigs do quite a bit of damage and are worse on the clematis. I haven't sprayed fungicide in a couple years but continue to spread slug/earwig bait.
Most of our roses are grafted on Dr. Huey. The doctor does fine here. I don't have the time or inclination to find out which roses will perform well in our soil/climate on their own roots. Dr. Huey gives us a dependable baseline. I assume that most have rmv though only a few show symptoms. Just as I am not jumping on the 'own root' bandwagon, I'll go along like I have since the 60s. I'll keep the roses we have whether they have rmv or not. I refuse to get paranoid about it. I won't blame grafted roses or rmv if a rose doesn't thrive for us.
I plant the bud union 2 to 4 inches below ground level. We mound our first year roses and some of our tender established roses. I do this to keep them cold as much as to protect them from it. I wait until mid December when, hopefully, the ground is frozen. Our roses are tough and I don't worry about them being exposed to single digit temperatures without protection. Naturally, Mother Nature likes to throw us curveballs. We had a week of cold weather after Thanksgiving with lows at -15°F and highs in the positive single digits. She was kind enough to send us snow to pile on the roses before the frigid stuff got here. We haven't lost a rose in 12 years since I began protecting new roses the first winter.
Most clematis grow like weeds here in Montana. I always liked seeing them in other people's yards but never thought of growing them. Deb liked them and wanted some. We have around 40 of the rascals in the yard now.
The only peonies we grow are the fernleaf variety (P. tenuifolia rubra plena). They are wonderful plants and the first thing to start growing in our yard. I haven't heard of anyone with good luck growing them in zone 6 or warmer.
I began washing foliage on our roses with a hard, fine water spray in 2005. We had a spidermite infestation and I wanted to knock them down with water every other day. I had washed foliage every week or two for years with good results as far as having healthy foliage. I noticed something odd. I had quit using fungicide in 2004. I tried using fungicide for several years and didn't like how the foliage looked. It seemed better without using fungicide. I had faced the fact that powdery mildew would become a big problem again. The worst of our powdery mildew magnets (Timeless, Granada, etc) showed no sign of it while I washed the foliage every other day to get spidermites under control. I experimented and found that the foliage wash kept our roses clean if I did it twice a week. PM began to show if I only washed once per week.
Washing foliage is time consuming. It takes about 3 hours to hit all 160+ roses and the clematis. I concentrate on the underside of leaves and only give the tops a quick spray as I go through. It does make for getting soaked and getting laughed at when I get a faceful of water. A bonus I found is that the clematis benefit as much or more than the roses do. We are constantly asked how we keep our clematis foliage so healthy. Clematis foliage would get powdery mildew pretty bad and would look pretty humble by season's end before I washed it regularly.