The Rose Annual (1913)

Roses in the United States


In average winters, over a great part of our country, we have a wonderful abundance of sunshine which enables us to grow Roses and to bring them into bloom in the coldest weather, at least a few varieties so lend themselves, and these few sorts are grown in enormous quantities.


Our Rose houses are now constructed on scientific lines, giving the freest possible admission to every ray of light and of sunshine. Very light wrought iron is used for a skeleton, just strong enough to support the slender wooden sash bars and the double-strength glass which form the roof. These modern glass structures are nearly all heated by steam in radiating pipes varying from 1 1/4-in. to 2-in, in diameter; a vacuum pump is used to clear them of the water formed by condensation; a temperature from 56 to 65 Fahrenheit is required according to variety. The houses vary from 200-ft. to 1,000-ft. in length, and are of varying widths running from 60-ft. down to 32-ft., the benches on which the Roses are grown are 4-ft. to 5-ft. wide. The bench bottom is either of cypress boards, 4-in. to 6-in, in width, and spaced 3/4 of an inch apart for drainage, or it is of ordinary porous drain tile; everything possible is done to make sure of a quick drying out of the soil after watering. A few growers use what are called solid benches; these are constructed by first putting in a porous 4-in. drain tile, over this 8-in, or 10-in, of broken stone, and upon this the soil is spread, usually about 10-in., while on the shallow board and tile bottoms only 4-in. to 6-in, of soil is used.


The preparation of the soil is very important, virgin sod wherever possible is used, composted with one-fourth well rotted manure, to which is added a good sprinkling of bone flour. Nearly all our growers now prefer plants grafted on manetti for indoor work, as they produce a stronger growth, and are not liable to the root diseases of own-root stock; some of the yellow-flowered sorts, like Perle des Jardins and Sunburst and some others, have an inclination, as the season goes on, to canker at the union, but nearly all of our forcing varieties do admirably on manetti. Briar stocks, either seedlings or from cuttings, are never used for winter forcing, as this stock has a decided tendency to go dormant in the short days, and nothing alarms the Rose grower more than to see his forcing Roses getting "sleepy" in mid-winter. The young grafted plants are shifted on, absolutely without check, until they are established in 4-in, pots, when they are planted in the soil of the benches, which is done any time from March till the 1st of July, according to the plans or the convenience of the grower.

The Rose plants are spaced 12-in, to 16-in, apart and are kept carefully tied to wire stakes; they are given frequent top dressings of old pulverised manure, both horse and cattle, and also very light and frequent sprinklings of sheep manure, dried blood, &c. Quite a number of growers boil their manures in a vat, with steam pipes, before applying, and certainly get good results. Rose plants treated as above will have attained a height of 3-ft. or over by January 1st. Red spider, thrip, the leaf-roller, and greenfly demand constant attention, as well as mildew and the disease known as black spot; this last disease is the dread of the growers of "American Beauty" (Mme. Ferdinand Jamain).


Only a limited number of varieties can be forced profitably in the winter, and the grower wants to be reasonably sure of a good return per square foot of glass before admitting a variety to his benches. The four Killarneys, White Killarney, Double White Killarney, Killarney Queen, and the original Killarney hold a very large proportion of the space allotted to forcing Roses the country over, with Double White and Killarney Queen entering their final test the present season. Double Killarney has been discarded because of its faded colour, and Pierson's Dark Killarney is too slow in growth; if the splendid growth of the former could be combined with the glorious colour of the latter, we should have little left to desire in a red Rose.

Richmond is still our only red at present, and likely to hold first place for some time to come; Meteor, a lovely red Rose, was discarded long ago because it required too high a temperature, making it expensive to produce; and My Maryland, a lovely pink, must be kept at 65° or it will go to sleep in mid-season.

Radiance, an American introduction, is in considerable favour and is being grown in good quantity; the new yellow varieties are in high favour, Mrs. Aaron Ward being a great favourite with flower buyers, being especially adapted for corsages and for table bowls.

Sunburst has fine forcing qualities, and is a wonderful keeper, lasting splendidly on or off the plant. Lady Hillingdon has its admirers, and is planted in good numbers in the East; it is best in mid-winter. The writer predicts a great future for Sunburst as it is a strong grower, with handsome foliage and grand bud, a fit companion for the best grade of Killarneys, but Mrs. Aaron Ward holds a place of its own with the ladies, and is deeply entrenched in their affections.

Antoine Rivoire is largely planted and is growing daily in popularity; a bunch of it is a beautiful sight, its canes are long and stiff, its foliage ample, and the flower is lovely in colour and form; this is the variety travelling under the synonym of "Mrs. Taft"; the explanation of the synonym is that the bundle of Antoine Rivoire reached this country without a label!

Mrs. Geo. Shawyer is destined to find a place, for it is one of the most vigorous growers, producing large quantities of buds on long stems; Rose Queen, Melody, Mrs. David Jardine, and Rhea Reid, are all grown in limited quantities; in certain localities one or other of these sorts flourishes amazingly, but with the majority of growers they have been disappointing.

American Beauty (Mme. F. Jamain) is grown by the hundred-thousands; some places are given over entirely to this one variety. It brings the highest price of any cut Rose, and is eagerly sought on account of its fragrance, its long stiff stem, its grandly beautiful leafage, as well as the loveliness of the bloom. An incident in the history of this Rose may be familiar to some of my readers. The late Hon. George Bancroft, the historian, was a great lover of the Rose, and after his demise a beautiful variety, without a label to disclose its identity, was found growing in his garden. A former countryman of yours, Mr. Geo. Field, discovered the value of this Rose for forcing, and the provisional name of American Beauty was given to it, which name has clung to it ever since, and now it would be impossible to change it.


It might be interesting to tabulate the qualities that a Rose must have before it can secure a place as a forcing variety.

1. A strong, clean, free growth.
2. A long, shapely bud, erect and pointed.
3. Not too many petals, or it will not open well in dull weather.
4. A resistant texture, that will make it a good keeper and shipper.
5. A strong stem and good foliage.
6. The colour must be true; if pink, it must not shade into lavender; if red, it must never "blue";  if yellow, the tone must be intense.
7. It must produce bloom freely, otherwise it cannot be grown profitably.
8. And it must not show the slightest tendency towards going dormant in the winter.
9. It should be fragrant.
10. It must prove popular.

Do you wonder that, out of the thousands of Roses existence, so few answer our requirements for winter forcing in America? La France, Mrs. W. J. Grant, and its sport, Joseph Lowe, Wellesley, Papa Gontier, Liberty, Mme. Hoste, Mme. Caroline Testout, Muriel Grahame, Golden Gate, Sunset, Sunrise, and Mme. Cusin, have all had extensive trial but are now discarded. Catherine Mermet, and its sports, The Bride and Bridesmaid, had the longest run of popularity, but they have practically passed off the stage. Kaiserin Augusta Victoria is a favourite for summer growing under glass, but in our Northern States it produces few flowers during the five coldest months.

Our firm has made a speciality of testing new Roses, both our own seedlings and the importations, and many and grievous have been our disappointments. The writer has seen charming Roses at Lyons, interesting varieties at Trier and Luxemburg, grand novelties in England, and seductive seedlings in Ireland, yet how few of them gain a foothold in America!­

M. Pernet-Ducher's novelties not yet disseminated have great promise, especially in the line of yellows, and as they are close kin to Sunburst and Mrs. Aaron Ward, we hope for some clear, bright shades of golden hue; and in the Irish Rose fields last July it did look as if the ultimate had been reached; critical judgment fails one in that genial air, but it does look as if Killarney has some fine cousins who will immigrate to this country at some not far distant day!

Garden Roses are a different matter; our country is so large, our climatic conditions so various, that a congenial home can be found for any Rose in existence within our borders, and our own Pacific States stand unrivalled in the magnificent blooms produced.