South Central Texas Rose Growing

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going" has to be the motto of a rose grower. Everything that this area is famous for--heat, drought, alkaline (basic) soils, insects and disease--roses detest. But "if it were easy, anyone could do it," so every spring rose growing enthusiasts plant thousands of rose bushes.

Some areas have deeper soils which are not as alkaline so the rose's life expectancy is enhanced. However, most of us are not blessed with such an excellent planting situation and have to contend with four inches of topsoil and sixty feet of rock. When confronted with adverse soil conditions, the rose grower will "modify" the growing area. The general recommendation is to choose a sunny location, loosen or till the soil, and construct a raised planting bed with railroad ties, bricks, etc., to a height of about eight to ten inches. Four to six inches will do for a mini-bed. Fill it with a loose, somewhat acidic soil mix. A good mix is basically one-third grainy, washed sand; one-third peat or compost and one-third topsoil. (For more information, see the American Rose Society: Soil)

Recommended Varieties for South Central Texas

There are many varieties that just won't do well in the San Antonio area because of the weather and soil conditions. Listed below are some cultivars in each of the major classifications of roses which grow and bloom well in the SOUTH CENTRAL Texas area.


  1. Altissimo
  2. America -- Coral Color
  3. Blaze (Improved) -- Red Color
  4. Don Juan -- Red Color
  5. Handel
  6. Joseph's Coat -- Multicolor
  7. Pinata -- Multicolor
  8. Royal Gold -- Yellow Color
  1. Apricot Nectar
  2. Belinda’s Dream
  3. Bewitched
  4. Bride's Dream
  5. Brigadoon
  6. Candlelight
  7. Charisma
  8. Christian Dior
  9. Chrysler Imperial --Yellow to Orange
  10. Color Magic
  11. Double Delight -- Multicolor
  12. Elina
  13. Elizabeth Taylor
  14. First Prize -- Pink Color
  15. Fragrant Cloud -- Orange to Red Color
  16. Gold Medal -- Yellow Color
  17. Just Joey -- Orange Color
  18. Lady X
  19. Montezuma -- Orange Color
  20. Mister Lincoln -- Red Color
  21. Olympiad -- Red Color
  22. Perfect Moment -- Multicolor
  23. Paradise -- Lavender Color
  24. Pristine
  25. Royal Highness
  26. Secret
  27. Sheer Elegance
  28. Tropicana -- Orange to Red Color
  29. Touch of Class -- Coral to Pink Color
  30. Uncle Joe (Toro) -- Red Color
  1. Caribbean
  2. New Year
  3. Gold Medal -- Yellow Color
  4. Ole
  5. Love -- Red to White Color
  6. Queen Elizabeth -- Pink Color
  7. San Antonio -- Red Color
  8. Tournament of Roses
  1. Angel Face -- Lavender Color
  2. Europeana
  3. French Lace
  4. Impatient
  5. Ivory Fashion
  6. Marina
  7. New Dawn
  8. Showbiz
  9. Summer Fashion
  10. Sunflare
  11. Sweet Inspiration
  12. Trumpeter
  13. Gene Boerner
  1. Archduke Charles
  2. Mrs. Dudley Cross
  3. Autumn Damask
  4. Mutabilis -- Multicolor
  5. Baronne Prevost -- Pink color
  6. Old Blush -- Pink color
  7. Caldwell Pink -- Pink color
  8. Paul Neyron -- Pink color
  9. Marie Pavie
  10. Sombreuil (Cl.)
  11. Jacques Cartier -- Pink color
  12. Souvenir de la Malmaison - Pink color
  1. Abraham Darby
  2. Bonica
  3. Carefree Beauty
  4. Carefree Wonder
  5. English Garden
  6. Mary Rose
  7. Simplicity -- Pink Color
  8. The Squire
  1. Acey Deucey
  2. Baby Katie
  3. Beauty Secret -- Red Color
  4. Child's Play
  5. Cupcake
  6. Dreamglo
  7. Fancy Pants
  8. Good Morning America
  9. Herbie
  10. Irresistible
  11. Jean Kenneally
  12. Kathy Robinson
  13. Kristen
  14. Little Jackie
  15. Minnie Pearl
  16. Mother's Love
  17. Party Girl
  18. Peaches 'n Cream
  19. Poker Chip
  20. Rainbow's End
  21. Red Beauty
  22. Rise 'n Shine
  23. Santa Claus
  24. Starina
  25. Sunblaze Series
  26. Winsome
Rose bushes are graded by standards of the American Association of Nurserymen. Grade I for Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras requires three or more strong canes 3/8 inch or more in diameter, the canes must be 18 or more inches long. Grade 1 _ requires two or more strong canes, 15 or more inches long. Grade 2 has two or more strong canes, 12 or more inches long. Grade 1 plants are recommended.

Before you dive into the excitement of growing your own roses, let me warn you of certain problems which will sooner or later be encountered.

Pest Control
(Also consult the pest control information on the American Rose Society: Pests)

Blackspot - identified by black spots and yellow colored leaves. It is probably the most common disease in this area. It is usually in evidence when the weather is cool and damp. Once established, it is almost impossible to eradicate for the rest of the season. Normally it is transferred from bush to bush by rain or watering that splashes the spores upward from the soil. The best control is obtained by spraying with Ortho Funginex or Daconil and keeping the lower leaves removed from the bushes. Once blackspot is detected, spray about twice a week and remove infected foliage (from beds as well as from bushes). Prevention is the best cure.

Powdery Mildew - The chief symptoms are buds and top growth covered with a white, powdery material. in time this will cause the leaves to curl. Powdery mildew is usually evident when days are warm and nights are cool. Normally it is non-existent in this area in the summer months. The best treatment is prevention by spraying bushes weekly with Ortho Funginex. If mildew is present, spray about twice a week until eradicated.

Rust - This is a fungus rarely ever seen in this area. It looks like small piles of rust under the affected leaves and should be prevented by spraying regularly with Funginex.

Insect Problems
Thrip - Perhaps the most serious insect threat in the San Antonio area is the thrip problem. These microscopic insects are prevalent during hot, dry spells and will cause the buds to stay closed or only partially open. The most common symptom of infestation is a browning of the petal edges. Thrip are especially attracted to light colored roses.

Aphids - these are succulent, light green insects that cover the buds and new growth, They are sometimes found inside deformed flowers and will leave white streaks on petals.

Cane borers - These insects will enter a fresh wound and cause considerable damage. Paint large cuts with a sealer to prevent this problem.

Corn Ear Worms - These worms will bore a hole into the flower bud.

Cucumber Beetles - This small green and black spotted "ladybug" is common in the San Antonio area. it will be found in and around the bloom and eats holes in the lower, inside portion of petals.

Leaf Cutter Bees - The cutter bee will cut circular holes in individual leaves. They use the "cutouts" to line their nests which can often be found around piles of wood or other debris.

Spider Mites - These are tiny, microscopic pests which are generally found on the underside of the leaves in hot and dry weather. The leaves turn yellow and gray, then brown and drop off.

The single most important factor in creating rose problems in Bexar and surrounding Counties is the high pH range of the soil. A reading of 7 is considered neutral. Above 7 is alkaline and below is acid. Roses grow best in the 6-7 range. Unfortunately, most soil in this section of Texas tests over 8. Another factor that contributes to the high alkaline content of the soil is the high pH of our water, generally even higher than that of the soil. Many nutrient deficiencies are usually associated with our high pH range.

Common rose deficiencies in this area
Chlorosis - this is the most common problem associated with a high PH. It is due to the iron being unavailable to the plant in alkaline soils. Secondarily, it may also be caused by deficiencies of nitrogen, manganese, magnesium or a lack of enough oxygen available to the root system. Iron deficiency will start with a yellowing of leaves. The veins in the leaves will stand out. A short range cure is the application of Ironite or other acidifying mixtures. A longer range solution is the application of a cup of a sulphur compound to each rose bush once or twice a year.

Nitrogen deficiency - A plant that lacks nitrogen will display pale green foliage and veins. Moreover, growth on the top becomes shorter, buds fail to develop in a proper fashion and small and poorly colored flowers result. Nitrogen deficiency is common in alkaline soils. It can also result when straw, hay or sawdust is used as a mulch. As the mulch breaks down, nitrogen is extracted from the soil. Supplemental nitrogen may be added in the form of water soluble products such as calcium nitrate, granular urea or organic blood meal. The use of composted mulch is recommended.

Other problems
Crown and Root Gall - Crown gall can be recognized by a roundish knotty growth at the bud union. Root gall can be recognized by a large nodule on the roots at the bud union. In these cases, cut out the affected portion and spray with Clorox or Lysol disinfectant. An alterative solution is to destroy the plant.

Canker - There are several types of canker. One of the more common types in this area is stem Canker which can be recognized as a dark sooty area near a wound. The best treatment is to remove and destroy the infected plant.

Die Back - Die back is not a disease but a symptom that is connected with many diseases. Two things can be done for die back. First always cut flowers at the base of a leaf axil. Second, when die back is present, cut below it to a five leaf axil or bud eye.

Mosaic - A virus which manifests itself as a yellowish, irregular patterning on the foliage. Mosaic virus is introduced by using either infected budwood or infected rootstock and may actually lie dormant in the bush for several years. Currently, there is no known cure and as long as "variegated" foliage is of no consequence, the bush can have a very productive life.