Growing Roses in Florida

“I am looking to plant a few bushes in South Florida in the Spring. Is that the best time of year for me in this zone?
Also please, what type (Floribunda, Tea…) is best for long-stem cutting similar to that in a florist?
Thank you.




Hi Steven,

Thank you for the email about growing roses in Florida.  Roses can be and  are grown successfully in Florida thanks to the Rosa fortuneana and Dr. Huey  rootstocks. Grafting a rose onto these assures that the plant will thrive  and prosper. Florida roses are grown in Florida specifically for Florida  soil and climate. These roses are very resistant to nematode damage and well  suited to the sandy soils of this state.

The biggest mistake most Florida gardeners make is planting rose bushes that  are field grown in climates very different from ours and budded on  rootstocks which are not productive and do not live long in Florida. If you are going to plant roses in your Florida garden, buy roses grown for Florida Gardens.

Because Florida has a 12-month gardening climate, the rose is an evergreen shrub that will grow and bloom for 5 – 20 years in the garden if cared for properly.

To start, planting is best done in November in southern Florida and in December or January in northern Florida.

Roses should be planted where they will receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight, preferably where they can receive the morning sun because it will dry the dew on the leaves and lessen the chance of black spot.

Roses should be planted in rich, but well-drained soil. Since sand drains too quickly and does not hold nutrients well it should be improved by adding amendments such as peat, composted cow manure, and compost. Add as much as 4″ to 6″ of any or all of these amendments to improve your soil.

Roses are heavy feeders and a wide variety of fertilizer is recommended to feed them. The secret to feeding Florida roses is to apply fertilizer once a month. It is recommended that newly-planted roses should not be fertilized until new growth emerges, although one-half cup of Milorganite may be applied as a top dressing on new plantings.

Water your roses well once a week unless the rain does it for you. Water in the morning so that the leaves are not wet during the night. Wet leaves can host foliage diseases.

Some varieties that will do well in Florida are:
–Abraham Darby:  Shrub, English Rose (Austin).  Always in bloom – large apricot/pink blooms.  Very fragrant. Can become large shrub or grown as a small climber.  Give it plenty of room.
–Anna Olivier:  Bermunda Mystery Tea Rose.  A very free flowering low maintenance landscape plant.  Light yellow creamy white roses have attractive form and are good for cutting.  Sweet fragrance.  Bush will grow to about five feet tall by four feet wide.
–Ballerina:  Hybrid Musk.  Medium pink blooms with a white eye.  Blooms in very large clusters.  Can grow to be about 6′ tall by 6′ wide.  This variety can grow in a semi-shady location.  Not a good cut flower, but adds good color to the border.
–Belinda’s Dream:  Shrub.  Well rounded shrub that is very disease resistant.  Medium pink buds have form similar to a hybrid tea but open to a large rose with old garden rose form.  Good blooms for cutting.  Holds well. Moderate fragrance.  Can grow to about 5 feet tall by 5 feet wide. Considered a carefree rose.
–Carefree Beauty:  Shrub.  Grows to be about 5 feet tall by five feet wide. Not a cut rose – more of a landscape type shrub to add color to the garden. Attractive clear medium pink blooms all year.  Very disease resistant.
–Dortmund: Shrub (grows like a climber).  Bright red single type blooms. Very decorative, beautiful foliage.  Robust grower.  Can be grown without spraying.
–Fairy Queen:  Shrub.  This low growing shrub will add color to your garden and is so easy to grow that it will propagate it’s self. Also looks great when grown in pots.
–Iceberg:  Floribunda.  Large bush, reaching heights of 6 to 7 feet. Brilliant white single type blooms in clusters, adding a bright spot in the garden.  Flowers are not particularly good for cutting, but does add charm to informal arrangements.
–Knockout:  Shrub.  Add beautiful color to your landscape.  Large loosely formed brilliant red blooms displayed against disease free foliage.  Large bushes, will reach five feet by five feet.  Can be grown in a semi-shaded location, but bloom count will somewhat decrease.  Can be grown without spraying.
–Louis Phillippe:  Old Garden Rose, China.  Also known as the Florida Cracker rose.  Red/Pink blend.  Slow growing but can become a very large, sprawling bush.  Holds well and is a reliable bloomer.  Very disease resistant and carefree.  Can be grown without spraying.
–Maggie:  Old Garden Rose, Bourbon.  Also known as Eugene Marlitt.  Deep fuscia to bright crimson blooms.  Large bush, somewhat sprawly.  Reblooms reliably.  Strong fragrance.  Can be grown without spraying.
— Apricot Nectar:  A wonderful floribunda with an equally wonderful fragrance.  Continuous bloomer.  Strong healthy growth produces a well rounded, attractive bush.  Full petaled blooms that open slowly makes it a great choice for th e bouquet.
–Moonstone:  Hybrid Tea.  One of the best hybrid teas for Central Florida. A robust grower, heavy bloomer.  Large white blooms edged in light pink. Highly recommended.
–Our Lady of Guadalupe:  Floribunda.  Beautiful foliage frames large sprays of slivery pink blooms.  Always covered in blooms – a great focal point – Adds lots of color to the garden.  Nicely shaped blooms are good for cutting.

When you go to buy your rose bushes remember that:

–You should buy your roses from a reputable nursery to prevent disappointment and poor quality rose bushes; Roses are graded with numbers: 1, 1 1/2 and 2. Number 1 bushes are the best (strong roots and vigorous canes). Number 1 1/2 will be of middle quality, and Number 2 will be weak and slow to produce good blooms;

— Many rose bushes have “All American Rose Selection” on their tags. This means that the rose has been tested and has outperformed other varieties under an assortment of soils and climates and will undoubtedly perform well in your garden.

I hope this information helps you out.  If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.


© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


3 thoughts on “Growing Roses in Florida

  1. Live in Venice n thinking of moving back to East side again n wondering what area along E coast of Fl is best counties for growing long stem roses again as I had gorgeous long stem roses in Charlotte NC at my sons home n I planted 16 of only planted strong fragrant roses…

  2. An of them should be okay as long as you control your fungal pathogens. North Carolina is a bit less humid than Florida, so you will likely see an increase in mildews and the like.

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