Issue: May 30
Roses will even grow at high altitude New Mexico locations.
Q. Are there any roses that will grow in Cloudcroft?
A. Indeed there are roses you can grow in Cloudcroft (and other high elevations/northern/cold parts of New Mexico). Roses also grow well in the lower and hotter regions. In each area the gardener must provide proper growing conditions and to some extent select types of roses best adapted to their particular environment.
In Cloudcroft and other high areas, you can even grow hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses like the rest of New Mexico, but you may need to provide some winter protection. Other types (species and cultivars) may be even easier to grow. Rugosa roses, shrub roses, species roses, and (believe it or not) miniature roses may be good choices.
Rosa rugosa and related cultivars are hardy, fragrant, adapted to a variety of soil conditions, and produce large attractive rose hips (fruits) that are ornamental during the winter or may be used for jellies or rose-hip tea. (Rose hips are high in vitamins.)
Various shrub roses available on the market are often easy to grow (not as particular about pruning) and produce abundant flowers. When I lived in Montana I tried some of the Explorer series roses from Canada. These were named after Canadian explorers (Hudson, Cabot, and others) and were selected to be hardy under cold Canadian conditions. These should do well for you.
While in Montana I also grew several species type roses (Rosa rubrifolia and Rosa spinossisima). Even though these did not rebloom like the hybrid tea roses, I enjoyed them for their foliage characteristics. R. rubrifolia had a reddish cast to the foliage while R. spinossisima had a frilly, serrate small leaf and also black rose hips. These were extremely hardy. They survived a winter with temperatures to minus 40 degrees (with snow cover). The native Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii) is another species to consider, but be aware it will spread underground and emerge several feet from the original plant.
Finally, do not forget the miniature roses. They are called miniature because they have small flowers, but some can produce surprisingly large plants. There is a great variety of these from which to choose. In addition, most of these are hardier than the roses commonly grown by gardeners. In fact, miniature roses require the winter dormant season to grow well (this explains why they often do poorly when grown as houseplants without a cool, winter rest period).
Roses can be grown in Cloudcroft and most other areas of New Mexico if they are given sufficient light and water in the growing season. Proper soil preparation is also an important part of growing roses anywhere in New Mexico. Those mentioned above are only a few of the roses you can try growing in your area. You will find some that you enjoy very much.
For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h.
Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Agricultural Science Center
1036 Miller Rd. SW
Los Lunas, NM 87031
Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.