Easy Elegance are perhaps the easiest of the hardy shrub roses to grow care for, so easy that they are guaranteed for 2 years.
The care and pruning of many of the hardy shrub roses is virtually the same, but Easy Elegance roses are perhaps the easiest. Like a flowering shrub, Easy Elegance are about as close to plant it and forget it as you can get. The key is in the planting.
But first, make sure to select a planting site that will give your roses plenty of sun. Six hours is minimum, as much as all day sun is important in cold climates. Your roses should be protected from wind if possible but still allow for good air circulation. Do not plant closer than 2 feet from a foundation and not closer than 2 feet apart. If you crowd your roses they may not get enough light and air.
Easy Elegance roses have an expansive root system. If you allow plenty of space in well tilled and amended soil, the roots will be strong and healthy to maintain a healthy and hearty rose bush. Adding organic matter to soil that is clay OR sandy will improve the structure of the soil to allow for root expansion in clay soil and water and nutrient retention in sandy soil. The organic matter will also provide needed nutrients for the roses. You can amend your soil with a variety of material: leaf compost; peat moss; composted manure or homemade compost. Be sure to see the Soil Amendments article for complete information about improving your soil conditions.
To plant your Easy Elegance rose, dig a hole at least one and a half times as wide as the root ball and at least as deep. You cannot dig a hole to big if your soil is clay or needs amending. Do not take shortcuts when planting roses, be sure to see complete information for planting a rose. If you expect the rose to be strong, healthy and easy to care for, you have to give it a good start. Adjust the bottom of the hole by adding back amended soil until the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil level. Fill around the roots with the amended soil and tamp firmly with your hands (do not “step” the soil down or it will get too compacted). Water the plant thoroughly. This may create more settling of the soil, so add soil if necessary and water again. Mulch generously, about 2 or 3 inches deep. The area should be mulched at least 2 feet all the way around, but not immediately around the stem of the rose.
In the first couple of years your Easy Elegance rose, like any rose or plant, will need plenty of water. Easy Elegance roses will produce abundant large blooms, flower all season and retain excellent color and fragrance if they receive enough water and nutrients. If you have done a good job of amending your soil, the soil will retain sufficient water and allow the excess to drain. If your hole was not deep enough in clay soil, the roots will be sitting in water that cannot drain away and will “drown”. Water your roses thoroughly and deeply once a week. Less frequent soakings are much more beneficial than frequent light sprinklings. Water in the morning so the leaves have the day to dry out, helping to prevent disease. If possible, use a soaker hose or trickle from the garden hose directly into the ground so the leaves don’t get wet at all. As autumn approaches your plant will begin to prepare for dormancy and will not need quite as much water as when it is actively growing and blooming in spring and summer. Once your Easy Elegance rose has established a good root structure, you will not need to be quite so diligent about watering weekly and deeply. As a matter of fact, Easy Elegance will become quite drought tolerant.
Easy Elegance roses do not need frequent feeding. When you plant your rose, soil amendments such as organic compost or composted manure will provide enough nutrients for the first season. Then each spring when buds are produced, apply an all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer to the soil around the plant. Additional feedings should not be necessary but if you feel you must, an additional feeding in late June may be applied. But do not overfeed! More is NOT better.
Pruning your Easy Elegance couldn’t be easier. In the first year you should not need to prune at all. Only damaged or dead wood should be removed, which should be done as soon as it is noticed. Once the rose is established prune in very early spring. Remove any dead or damaged canes, or any canes that are crossed or growing inward to keep the center of the plant open for good air circulation. If you like, you may cut the oldest canes down by about one third to encourage new growth and more blooming. You may also deadhead, remove spent blooms with a pruner, to encourage reblooming. If you stop deadheading by about midsummer, your Easy Elegance rose will produce colorful orange hips for winter interest.
Each year, mulch should be refreshed around your rose plant. In the coldest climates when done if late autumn, about the time the ground is freezing, added mulch will keep the soil temperature more constant. Repeated freezing and thawing may not bother this hardy rose, but it can heave a root ball up out of the ground. In more moderate climates the mulch should be removed in late autumn to prevent disease, and replaced in May when the ground begins to warm up. Keeping your mulch refreshed will also keep the soil cool and moist in summer, inhibit soil splash when watering, and inhibit weed growth. It is best to use organic mulch of shredded leaves, bark, wood chips or cocoa bean hulls. Rocks tend to heat up in summer, transferring the heat to roots. Excessive heat can stunt growth.
Enjoy your roses! Cut some and bring them inside. Easy Elegance makes an excellent cut flower that will brighten your home and fill it with wonderful fragrance. The blooms will last longest if you cut them when the buds are just beginning to open. Cut early in the morning to cause the least stress to the blooms. If you cut later in the day just get them right into water as quickly as you can. Blossoms that are fully opened can be cut and to “sprinkle” petals off the stem for a luncheon table or with a centerpiece, or collected for potpourri. If you have allowed hips to form at the end of the growing season, you can cut them to use in fall arrangements.
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