A gardening book that discusses bestsellers and favourites would be incomplete if it did not include the iconic Iceberg rose.
Introduced way back in 1958, this white floribunda rose has been sold by the millions around the world and it is still going strong. Every year in spring, hundreds of Icebergs are displayed at the entrances of many local nurseries. In this way the nurseries announce the start of a new planting season, and they offer the roses as spring bargains to attract gardeners. Due to the great demand, rose growers need to be on their toes to make sure they have enough Iceberg roses in flower and ready for sale in spring – and this demand doesn’t diminish as spring turns to summer and summer progresses. We cannot resist this lovely rose that flowers so willingly, producing pointy rosebuds and large open flowers. We plant them in formal rose gardens, in pots, between other flowering shrubs in mixed beds, and with lavenders in the popular Tuscan style. We even plant them as security hedges, because, planted as close together as 1,5 m or even closer, they make quite a formidable barrier. The Iceberg rose is as South African as boerewors.
When do they bloom?
Icebergs bloom from October, throughout summer and well into autumn.
Most suitable climate
Icebergs will generally grow anywhere, except in very warm and dry regions where water is scarce and the sun is too harsh. Gardeners with cold winter gardens and those in temperate climates can plant them with confidence. They grow well in the Western Cape (even in those windy coastal towns), and equally well in KwaZulu-Natal – from the cooler and frost-affected interior to the warm, humid subtropical areas.
What they need
Location: full sun for at least five hours a day.
Soil: good loamy to sandy soil. Clay soil is acceptable if the drainage is improved – adding some agricultural lime every year makes the soil more workable. Make an effort to prepare the planting holes very well; add generous amounts of compost and a large handful of bone meal to each. Mulching to keep the soil moist and cool is practically non-negotiable when it comes to roses with their shallow root systems. Organic mulch will also provide extra nutrients as it breaks down.
Water: roses like regular, liberal applications of water. In cooler weather you can cut down somewhat, but during summer it is essential to water deeply two to three times per week.
Fertilizing: generally, roses need to be fed every month, and even more regularly if they are in pots. There are some wonderful fertilizers specially formulated for roses – both chemical and organic.
Pruning: You don’t have to be a dab hand with the pruning shears to prune an Iceberg; in fact, the traditional winter pruning (while they are dormant) can be done with a simple hedge cutter or even a power saw. Later on, once they are actively growing and flowering again, all you need to do is regularly remove spent blooms and withered or diseased stems.
In a nutshell
* A rose for beginner gardeners.
* Flowers heartily, seldom disappoints.
* Suitable for mass planting.