The awful truth about roses

Choose wisely to minimize problems with roses.

Want to know the awful truth about roses? They are a lot of work—if you don’t choose the right ones!  With our mild winters and balmy spring and autumn weather, Atlanta’s climate seems ideal for successful rose gardening. It would be, if not for the summertime.  Unfortunately, our hot, humid summers provide the perfect environment for a multitude of disease and pest problems that affect many varieties of roses.

Potential rose gardeners, both young and old, have thrown in the towel when confronted with the weekly chore of spraying chemicals to combat black spot, aphids, Japanese beetles and a never-ending army of insect pests and diseases that can plague roses. Many dedicated rosarians adhere to a strict calendar once the plants begin to leaf out and form buds, systematically applying home remedies, and organic and synthetic formulations—all in hope of that perfect rose from an unblemished plant!

Luckily, if you are a rose fancier, you don’t have to give up or succumb to such a rigid schedule. The solution is twofold—provide the best possible growing conditions for roses and select appropriate kinds of roses for Atlanta’s climate and soils.

Categories of roses

Roses are categorized a number of ways.

  • First, all roses that have evolved from 1867 to today are considered modern roses. There are ten classes of modern roses, including hybrid teas, polyanthas, floribundas, climbers and shrub roses. 
  • Old-garden roses (also known as antique or old-fashioned) were in existence before 1867. Species roses, damasks, Chinas, Bourbons, and Noisettes are few of the fifteen classes of old-garden roses.

Merely being labeled “modern” or “old-garden” does not indicate that one category of rose is easier to grow.

Temperature, climate and soil conditions all play a part in determining which rose is going to be less demanding than another.

Photo credit: Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

About the author

Mary Kay WoodworthMary Kay Woodworth is Executive Director of the Georgia Urban Ag Council. In her spare time, you can find her digging in the dirt, pulling weeds, and writing garden-related articles for publication.