History of Ballerina Roses:
The exact parentage of Ballerina seems to be unknown however is is known that it was bred from a seedling of R. multiflora. By John Bentall of the United Kingdom in 1937. There is actually very little information out there about the origins of this rose or who first offered it commercially. Bentall was the gardener and assistant of Joseph and Florence Pemberton starting around 1920, and later became his beneficiary and successor who went on to create other great roses such as the Autumn Delight and The Fairy.
Ballerina roses are hybrid musk shrub roses that produce a veritable swath of stunning little pink roses that fade to white as they age. The blooms are actually quite small, only growing about 2 inches or so in diameter and they have a very low petal count, about 5 per single bloom. The mild musky fragrance this rose puts out is a favorite among growers and the Ballerina will actually bloom throughout the entire growing season and well into the autumn months, which adds to its appeal for rose growers everywhere who are looking o stretch their season as long as they can.
Growing Ballerina Roses:
The Ballerina is a pretty versatile rose due to the fact that it is a little more hardy than some varieties, able to be grown in zones 4 through 10. Not to mention it is also tolerant of locations that get partial shade during the day, which believe me is a great trait for gardens like mine that have a lot of trees around the perimeter. The Ballerina is susceptible to getting blackspot however so you should be aware of this and be prepared to treat it if necessary.
Ballerina roses can be grown in the ground or in containers due to their shorter habit. The Ballerina can be maintained to grow as low as 3 feet tall, or you can let it go up to about 6 feet if you desire and it will achieve a spread roughly the same as its height, or just a bit smaller. If you are going to grow your Ballerinas in containers then you need to make sure you have a way to protect it from the winter cold, usually by moving the container to a location that doesn't freeze. You also need to protect these roses from those occasional spring freezes as well, as one of these could devastate the plant for the entire season and it may not recover at all!
Planting Ballerina Roses:
If you ordered your Ballerinas online, then you probably got them as a bareroot plant after all danger of frost has passed in your area. Planting these is not difficult, but it does require a little more work than if you had gotten it at a local nursery in a container. The first thing I suggest is picking up a bag of a nice organic compost from your local garden center, if you don't already have some handy. When you dig up the hole, put the soil into a wheel barrow and mix it 2 to 1 with the organic compost. Using this as your backfill will do wonders for your roses.
The first step to planting your bareroot Ballerina roses is to dig a hole that is wide enough to fit the roots of the plant without forcing them in, and deep enough so that you can mound up some of your soil mix in the center of the hole and set the bud union about an inch or two below the surface of the hole. The reason you mound up the dirt in the center of the hole is to allow the roots of the plant to spread out and angle downward, like they would grow naturally.
Once you have the hole dug and the plant set in place, back fill with your soil mix about halfway, then water the soil thoroughly until it is just about the consistency of mud. Fill the hole the remainder of the way and then water it again. What you are doing is making sure that the soil completely covers the roots and no air pockets have formed.
If you bought your Ballerina locally in a 2 or 3 gallon container, your planting task is much simpler. Dig your hole about twice the diameter of the container it came in, and equally as deep. This will ensure that the bud union stays at the same depth it is in the container.
Caring for Ballerina Roses:
You can take care of your Ballerinas much the same way you would any of your other roses. As I said earlier, you do have to be extra careful to protect your plants from the freezing temps, but beyond that normal care will suffice. One good thorough watering each week should be sufficient however if you live in a region that is unusually hot and/or arid, you may find that you will need to water every 4 to 5 days instead.
As for feeding your Ballerina roses, most rose growers will give one feeding in early spring, just as the leaves begin to form, and this will generally give you great results. For roses such as this that will continuously bloom the rest of the season, you can go ahead and give it another feeding just as the first bloom starts to develop, and one more around mid-July or so. Just make sure that you allow 4 weeks in between each feeding.
Pruning Ballerina Roses:
Pruning your Ballerinas is easy and only takes a few minutes. You will want to prune in early spring before the leaves form and the first step is to remove all the dead wood, along with any canes that look sick or diseased. This is also the time to clean up all the leaves from around the base of the plant and discard all those along with the cuttings. Remove any canes that overlap one another and cut back the remaining canes to about one third of their original height. Many growers will also take hedge trimmers to their Ballerinas and shape them that way.
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