Organic Gardening on the Gulf Coast - Lessons and tips from Foley's Cooper Farm

Rose propagation, benefits of rose hips and more: Cultivating the Coast with Kitti Cooper, presented by Saunders Marine Center

A blooming love affair: What to do with roses beyond Valentine's Day


As Valentine's Day approaches, love is in the air, and what better way to express it than with the timeless beauty of roses?

In this article, we'll explore the enchanting world of roses, from when and how to prune them to the numerous benefits they offer. Discover the uses of roses, including the versatile rose hips, and learn how to propagate roses from a store-bought bouquet. We'll also delve into the art of making rose water to add a touch of romance to your daily routine.

Happy Valentine's Day, and may your love bloom as beautifully as a rose bush in full blossom.


Valentine's day holds a great reminder date for rose pruning and is prime time for pruning roses in Baldwin County.

Remove dead or diseased wood: Use clean, sharp pruning shears to cut away any dead or diseased wood. This helps promote air circulation and reduces the risk of fungal infections. Not sure how clean your pruners are? Treat your garden pruners as you would an open cut disinfecting the same way regularly to prevent infections and spreading the ick.

Shape the bush: Trim the outermost canes to shape the bush, encouraging a more open and balanced structure. Cut at a 45-degree angle just above a bud facing outward. Air flow is most important in Baldwin County to prevent diseases.

Reduce height: If your roses have become too tall, prune them to a height of around 18 inches. This encourages new growth and stimulates the production of more blooms.

Remove weak growth: Identify and remove weak, thin stems, leaving behind the strong and healthy canes.

Clean up around the base: Clear away debris and dead leaves around the base of the rose bush to prevent the development of pests and diseases. Adding mulch helps regulate water as roses hate having wet feet and are prone to root rot.


Aesthetic beauty: Roses are renowned for their captivating beauty, adding a touch of elegance to any garden or bouquet. You can't walk past a rose garden without a boost of happiness.

Emotional well-being: The fragrance of roses has been linked to reduced stress and improved mood, making them the perfect gift for expressing love and care.

Symbolic meaning: Roses convey a range of emotions, from love and passion to friendship and admiration, making them a timeless symbol of affection.


Decorative bouquets: Create stunning floral arrangements to celebrate special occasions or gifts to neighbors, friends, family or even a stranger. It is a wonderful way to boost joy in anyone's life, and there's no way you can walk by a rose garden without getting a boost of happy.

Tip: Use greenery in season that some may call "weeds" to add to home grown rose bouquets. Explore your own yard and trees for the possibly of additions such as gardenia branches or any tree/shrub branch.

Culinary delights: Use fresh rose petals to add a subtle floral flavor to salads, desserts or even homemade jams.

Tip: Roses that smell better taste better.


Harvest rose hips, the small fruit that forms after the rose blooms fade. Rich in vitamin C, rose hips can be used in various ways for their health benefits. Consult with a local herbalist such as Beelightful Botanicals located at Cooper Farm for more benefits, uses and preparations.


Health boost: Rose hips are packed with antioxidants and more vitamin C than citrus, known for boosting the immune system and promoting overall well-being.

Skin care: The oil extracted from rose hips is a natural moisturizer that helps improve skin texture and reduce signs of aging.


Choose healthy thick stems: Select fresh, thickest stems from your bouquet with at least 6 inches of length. Keep in mind that not all roses do well in our hot humid weather, but fresh bouquets end up in the trash/compost no matter what, so why not just try with odds in your favor of succeeding? They don't sprout, and they end up in the trash/compost or they root and you have a beautiful lifelong rose bush that has sentimental meaning of who gifted them to you.

Remove leaves and snip: Strip the lower leaves, leaving only a couple at the top. Cut about 3 inches off the bottom and about 1 inch below the rose bloom.

Apply rooting hormone: Prior to applying rooting powder or paste peel, scrape off about a half-inch of the outer harder dark green/ brown stem to reveal the green rose stem tissue. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone for enhanced root development. Remember to root your roses from the end that was in water not the end that the rose bloom was on.

Don't have rooting hormones? Powdered cinnamon (no additives) works as an all natural root stimulator, and raw honey is a wonderful antibacterial and has antifungal properties to help prevent diseases. Mix honey and cinnamon at a 50/50 ratio into a paste then dip/roll cut rose stem ends into the paste.


Make a hole about 4 inches deep prior to sticking your rose cutting into your plant medium. Plant the cuttings in pots filled with fresh aerated potting mix, Never use recycled potting mix when rooting roses due to them being susceptible to more diseases. Fresh out of a sterile bag is best. Don't let the potting mix dry out, and be careful to not over water to cause rot.


Once roots develop, which can take up to two months or as short as three weeks, transplant them into larger pots. Choose an area with afternoon shade for our hot summers to prolong blooming. Keep in mind that not all rose varieties do well in our area, so move your rose bush around accordingly to see which sun/shade combo it appreciates best.

Implement a fungicide routine such as copper fungicide every 90 days to prevent fungal diseases in our hot humid climate.

Tip: Only water from below and never use a sprinkler so water doesn't sit on leaves or blooms to promote more fungal issues. Dry leaves and dry blooms on a rose bush in our area are happy happy happy.



Fresh rose petals (about 2 cups)

Distilled water (enough to cover the petals)


Rinse petals: Gently rinse the rose petals to remove any impurities.

Boil or simmer: Place the petals in a pot and cover them with distilled water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Strain: Strain the liquid to separate the rose water from the petals.

Store: Pour the rose water into a clean, airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for a refreshing and fragrant addition to your skincare routine.