Thursday, November 28, 2013

Growing Roses in Kihei

a hybrid tea
  There are countless varieties of roses that can be grown successfully in Hawaii. However, it takes some experimenting to determine the right varieties to grow in our different climates and soil conditions. Roses also grow well in containers - I recommend a 15 gallon size or larger.

Dick Clark
a grandiflora
A nice selection of bare root hybrid roses are normally available at Walmart just after New Years and again in the early summer. In the late winter or early spring Kula Hardware and Nursery brings in a huge selection of bare root roses.

Judy Garland
a floribunda

Cecile Brunner
a traditional (but not the original) Lokelani rose
Cecile Brunner is an antique climbing rose - it was hybridized in 1894.
In Hawaii the buds are used in string leis.
The Green Rose
known as Lokelau in Hawaii

This is another antique rose thought to be in cultivation since the mid 1700's. Lokelau originated in China and was introduced to the rose market in 1856. Plants were available at Lowes in Kahului during the spring. Lokelau flowers are used in haku leis.
Coffee and coffee grounds are recommended for roses - I spread them on the top of the soil. I fertilize the plants once a month with an organic all-purpose fertilizer or twice a month with fish emulsion or Grower's Secret.
Pink Promise
a hybrid tea
and...this is why they're called rose beetles
So far the rose beetle has been the only predator. They eat lace like holes in the leaves and sometimes the flowers. In my opinion, the best remedy is to keep the plants well fertilized. I sometimes spray the leaves with fish emulsion or Grower's Secret and that helps too.
Christian Dior
a hybrid tea
with severe powdery mildew damage
Another problem for roses is powdery mildew which is ever present in the air in Kihei. Christian Dior and Chrysler Imperial were the most susceptible of the varieties I've planted so far. Both were red roses that eventually succumbed to mildew damage. In contrast, the bright green branches at the top of the photo are Dick Clark - a very hardy, powdery mildew resistant hybrid.

Powdery mildew spores absorb into the leaves and are impossible to remove. It also grows on the stems and branches - this can be scrubbed off with a toothbrush and warm water. I don't recommend spraying baking soda, especially for container plants, as the salt can accumulate in the potting soil and eventually kill the plant.

Rose Growing in Hawaii
a pdf published in 1972

Roses can be planted in full sun or partial shade. In Kihei, the plants usually need daily water especially during the summer.

Recipes with Dried Rose Petals
Recipes with Fresh Rose Petals
Chicken with Rosewater
Rose Petal Jelly
Lemon Rose Raspberry Parfait
Strawberry Rose Petal Ice Cream

How to make Rose Water
Rose Water - The Benefits

For any culinary recipe it's safest to use roses that have been grown without pesticide. Roses obtained from a floral shop are not suitable for culinary use.


  1. One of my most fun things to grow upcountry was roses, especially the yellow ones (no name tags). I found Double Delight to be amazingly fragrant, but that was in SoCal. They were terribly untrained when I bought the house, but the regular feedings and patient pruning made them flourish. They had just enough shade later in the day from the front privacy hedge of crotons to prevent the sunburn, but watering was very critical to keep those blooms coming. I added regular doses of Epsom salts to get bursts of blooms around the holidays, too, needing to give that about 24 to 26 days to have results "on schedule". (of course your mileage may vary...) Those bushes also became natural trellises for a rampant yellow pear tomato vine, too!

    1. Roses do really well upcountry - much better than in Kihei. I'll have to look for Double Delight when roses are available next spring. I love them and will keep adding to my collection. I use epsom salts on my tomatoes and peppers - I'll try it on the roses too. How cool to have pear tomatoes vining in the roses!

  2. Aloha, Jane,
    I remembered your post a couple of years ago, about capers. The only gardening here in winter in Oregon is daydreaming while reading seed catalogs. OneGreenWorld is a world-class nursery way up in Portland (or just hop there at has their 20th Anniversary catalog out, with an offering for Spineless Caper on page 62. They do ship to Hawaii (Priority), so you just might be tempted to try it.....

    1. Mahalo for the link! All of my caper plants are spineless. So far my only option for growing them is seeds - the germination is so poor and takes so long that I would definitely be interested in a source for caper plants. I hope you're keeping nice and warm and enjoying the winter as well!

  3. Aloha Jane, warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. You have a lovely blog.

    1. Mahalo Linda for your appreciation!

  4. Oh, how beautiful!
    Last year, in April, my mother gave me a rose bush for my birthday. This is the first time that I have been able to grow roses successfully. It just keeps blooming and blooming and has flourished. I planted it in a large pot and placed it on my front porch, along with all of the veggies and herbs that I have in containers. It seems to be very happy there. You have definitely inspired me to plant container gardens, it is so much easier than all of the work that goes into in ground planting.
    Thank you for all of your hip tips! I need them.
    My favorite thing to do is "deadhead" the rose bush! ha ha ha
    Your blog is FABULOUS!!!!!

    1. Wow Tracy that's so cool that your mom gave you a rose bush for your birthday - what a beautiful gift! I've acquired quite a few different varieties since I wrote this post but haven't had the time to add more photos to it.

      Roses like coffee grounds - I add then to the top of the soil after I finish making coffee.

      Containers are so much easier. That's great than you're growing in containers too. I love that I can move them round like furniture and change the look of my garden or move them in or out of the direct sun. I even found a corn that I could grow in a container - Blue Jade.

      Mahalo for your appreciation of my blog! Deadhead roses - I wonder if there is a red variety with that name? If not someone should breed and patent one - they could make a small fortune!! Roses are fairly easy to start from cuttings. As soon as I post more photos I'll let you know and if you would like cuttings of any varieties I have I'll send them to you.

  5. Perfect timing! I have been nurturing and living with my first rose bush, a birthday gift from my mother, last year. It has been living in a huge Mexican clay pot on my front patio. I know nothing about taking care of roses and am on a search to find out! Thank you for the coffee grounds reminder. Don't know how I forgot that! That was a common practice that I have done for years, for all of my plants. Starbuck's gives away free coffee grounds at most locations, when available. ~ and packaged all nicelt! lol~
    My medium sized roses have become very small, like small tea roses and they are beginning to fade in color from a bright pink to a very pale pink with small amounts of bright pink. They are tripping out because they need something! There is a lot to learn about roses, I am finding out!
    LOVE your helpful and beautiful blog. xoxo

    1. I apologize for being behind in approving your comments and posting a reply! I only check this blog about once a week. The heat, intense sun and cold weather affect roses but they will bounce back during the more temperate weather. My roses produce smaller, less fragrant blooms during the summer too.

      I generously fertilize roses with either Alaska Fish Emulsion or Nutri-Rich fertilizer (chicken manure pellets) at least once a month but any good fertilize will probably work. I give them coffee grounds regularly and I prune them after they bloom. If I don't keep them pruned and well fertilized the rose beetles will destroy the leaves. For my garden in this hot dry climate lots of fertilizer and water are the key to getting anything to grow. Yes, Starbucks is a great source for coffee grounds! Roses are suppose to thrive with coffee grounds. I remember people growing roses when I lived in Scottsdale but unfortunately I don't remember any details. I hope your rose bush bounces back, if not this fall then at least next spring!

  6. Beatiful roses, especially the white lokelani ... I live on Oahu and haven't seen a white one look almost like a mini hybrid tea like that. Could you tell me more about how you use the coffee grounds from Starbucks? I have 10+ plants, and only did one application of the coffee grounds.

    1. I use my own coffee grounds and put them on top of the soil around the plants. I'm not sure just how much coffee grounds are recommended for roses or at what point it's too much.