Growing long stem roses is something you can do in your home garden but you might find it a bit time-consuming.
It also depends on the weather (which is why most long-stemmed roses are grown in greenhouses).
Grading Long Stem Roses
Long stem roses are graded according to the stem length and the bud size. The longer and bigger the better. Once you get into the 24″ length, you’re talking high quality with bud sizes of one inch or more.
Anything less is of lesser quality but still acceptable. Note that growers get paid more if they produce longer stems than if they produce short stem roses.
Developing Long Stem Roses
There are two ways you produce a long stem roses. The first is pruning and the second is climate control.
Some rose varieties are more suited for long stem production but the climate and pruning are primary considerations.
- In pruning, you only allow one bud (the central larger one) to remain on the stem.
- All other buds are carefully pruned off.
- This is basic gardening and almost all plants respond the same way.
- Take off the secondary buds and the main flower bud will get larger.
Hybrid Tea ‘Kitchener of Khartoum’ image courtesy Wikimedia
The Big Problem In Home Gardens
The main key to producing these roses is climate control and this is where home gardeners start to have problems. Because the production of these roses is inside greenhouses, optimum conditions for stem elongation and rose growth can be created.
- You want to create an optimum temperature of 27C with a relative humidity of 60-70%.
- Hotter or cooler temperatures will reduce the stem length because of increased stress on the plant. Essentially what you are trying to do is maintain a stress-free environment where the variety of rose can reach its genetic optimum growing size.
- Carbon dioxide supplementation is one of the grower tools for increasing growth and making the leaves larger and more productive (darker green leaves sell better as well). Without this growth promoting technique, growing long stem roses is more difficult.
What This Really Means to Backyard Gardeners
In general, it means that it is very difficult to create a florist quality long stem rose in the home garden.
You can increase the length of your rose stems by feeding heavily (compost and weekly fish emulsion feedings) and by pruning off all the secondary buds so each stem only has one flower bud.
But without a lot of extra care, growing long stem roses will likely remain in the hands of greenhouse growers for the next little while.