Everything can come up roses
If you were to ask a bunch of experts to make a list of the 20 best plants to grow in warm, humid climates, I'd be surprised if any recommended roses. And yet the rose-lovers among us continue to do all we can to grow these gorgeous blooms, knowing all the while that the climate is not always on our side.
Although roses can handle the heat, they don't deal as easily with the humidity. But, thanks to the efforts of generations of tropical and sub-tropical rose gardeners, there is lots of wisdom to share about how to succeed. And succeed you will, if you follow their advice.
The first thing to do is to choose appropriate varieties. Try not to be utterly seduced by the glossy catalogues and beautiful websites. As well as colour and fragrance, look for attributes like "disease resistant", or "suitable for warm climates", or "black spot resistant". Even better, buy your roses from reputable growers in your area, or from the local garden centre who, hopefully, sources roses from a local supplier.
Every year, new varieties are released, some good, some not so good. Not surprisingly, it is often the old tried and true varieties that are the hardiest in our climate. I have a few favourites. Mr Lincoln is a deep red with a rich fragrance - perhaps the best red rose there is. Iceberg is a classic white, very hardy and free flowering but not as strongly perfumed as some others.
Double Delight and Peace are gorgeous, as is Seduction. And then there's Just Joey, Apricot Nectar, Perfume Passion, and so, so many others. Violina is wonderful - her huge, loosely-formed flowers are beautifully scented, and she is a very tall, vigorous grower.
Roses need a sunny position, at least six hours per day, good drainage, and plenty of well-rotted organic matter in the soil. To minimise the risk of fungal diseases, ensure that there is good airflow around the roses - they don't like to be crowded by other plants.
Roses are heavy feeders, so fertilise frequently with your favourite organic fertiliser throughout the year. Spray fortnightly with a seaweed solution to help prevent fungal diseases, and use organic Eco-Fungicide if necessary.
Roses are pretty drought tolerant. As with many plants, a deep watering once a week is better than a light sprinkle every day, as it will force the roots down into the soil.
Good companion plants for roses include chives, marigolds, yarrow, scented geraniums, parsley, thyme, lavender, sage and catmint. But don't go digging around too much around your rose bushes - keep companions a minimum of about 30cm away.
Cut flowers or remove spent blooms 5mm above an outward facing leaf node to promote more blooms.