Success with Lenten roses requires some advance planning. Here are a few guidelines to aid your endeavor.
- Choose the right spot. Lenten roses need light shade and well-drained soil. Plants prosper from the Upper to Lower South and into Central Texas. North Florida and coastal gardeners need to provide full shade, fertile soil, and perfect drainage. Sam says that calls from customers who have lost plants usually reveal that they have used automatic sprinklers that kept the roots too wet.
- Don't plant too deep. The crown of the plant should be sitting on the surface of the soil. If set too low, the plant will decline. Likewise, years of heavy mulching or a buildup of fallen leaves will have the same effect.
- Give them a good start. Prepare the soil deeply. Work plenty of organic material such as compost, mushroom compost, soil conditioner, sphagnum peat moss, or rotted manure at least a foot deep into the planting bed. Also mix in a timed-release fertilizer at the rate recommended on the label. If your soil is acid, add a half-cup of dolomitic lime per plant as well. In winter every year after, sprinkle a handful of lime around the plant.
- Choose the right colors. Although the dark purple or slate (sometimes called black) Lenten roses are intriguing, they don't show up well in the garden. White flowers carry the best at a distance. Pink and rose colors add interest during a season when flowers are so rare.
- Groom plants in small gardens. If your plants are close to a walk or terrace, remove any ragged foliage that has been damaged by winter. The flowers will show up better, and new growth will quickly emerge.