With Valentine's Day drawing nigh, you're probably gasping at online florists' websites and grasping your wallet in agony. "Dead plants cost HOW MUCH?!" you say, right before forking over $60 for one dozen roses. You'll have a second round of doubt when you realize shipping alone is going to tack on another $15 or so. But you'll go through with it because, after all, your loved one is worth it, right? And there's no alternative ... or is there?
Have you ever asked yourself, "Why am I paying so much for something that just ... grows? In the dirty, worm-filled earth?!" Maybe. Have you ever asked yourself, "I wonder if I could grow my own roses, cheaper?!" Probably not, because it flies in the face of common sense. But that's what we are here for! To answer nonsensical questions about how to possibly save money in the most ludicrous ways possible!
Using junk science and wild estimations, we've investigated exactly that: Can you save money by growing your own roses? Since this is essentially a piece about true love, and providing roses to said true love all while saving some green, we're going to estimate the cost of growing roses vs. buying them over the next 50 years. Just like finding "the one," start-up costs (dating, movies, dinners, jewelry, etc.) can seem less than cost-effective, but the long-term benefits are the real profits (marriage, kids, a house, more expenses, etc.). So growing roses might not save you money in one year, but it could end up saving you a bundle in the long run.
Based on an afternoon of surfing the web and reading some Wikipedia pages, this is what we think you're going to need to make this mad-cap scheme a reality:
We're not rose-ologists [editor's note: botanists] but we do know that there are quite a few types of roses out there — literally hundreds of species, hybrids, sub-species, strains, varietals, and whatnot. But instead of detailing the specific breed that will work in each possible climate, we suggest you look for a generally hardy species, as there's less chance that the bush will die and need replacing. Also consider a disease resistant strain, as there are many things that can kill them, including fungus, "smuts," molds, black-spot, and rust-leaf, to name but a few.
If you're going for the classic V-Day rose look, other important factors to consider are: "red" and "large flowered." The latter means the roses grow on individual stems (rather than clusters) and will grow (you guessed it) large flowers. Hybrid Tea rose varieties will get you the closest to a store-bought look, but they're often not bred for hardiness. Instead, you might want to consider the Double Knock Out™ line of roses, pictured below. Yes, they're trademarked! You can't just go around calling any flower a "knock out" — and if you did, rose-scented lawyers would be all over you faster than you can say, "A lawsuit by any other name." These roses are very hardy and will survive all but the coldest of winters (and they'll probably survive those, too, if you properly prepare).
A single Double Knock Out Rose Bush should yield a mess 'o flowers and one is probably enough to supply you with 12 blooms when you need them, but since nature is unpredictable, we think you should play it safe and get two bushes ($17.98 plus $11.95 s&h).
But even if you buy this hardy, disease-resistant species, a lot can still go wrong. After all, there's still the chance that it'll just ... die. The average lifespan of a rose bush is only 35 years. Further, you can't stop a tornado from coming through your yard and pulling up your flowers any more than you can stop an escaped psychopath from using your greenhouse / yard as a hiding spot and eating your roses for sustenance. These things happen.
So we're going to estimate that you'll have to replace both bushes at least three times (or one bush six times) during these hypothetical 50 years. Our tally of rose bushes, alone, is now at $89.79. But remember, that's getting you through a half a century of Valentine's Days. When put in that perspective, it actually doesn't sound so bad, right?
Any old pair will do, as long as you keep them sharp. The cheapest pair we could find is the Fiskars 7920 Stainless Steel Bypass Pruner ($7.97 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $2). Will they last 50 years? Probably not, especially with that neighbor of yours always borrowing and never returning your yard equipment! (You still live in that hackneyed sitcom, right?) So you'll have to buy a couple of sets. A fair estimate is probably one set every 10 years. So that's $39.85 more, over the lifetime of this mad project.
As the immortal bard, Brett Michaels, wrote, "Every rose has its thorn." But thankfully you can avoid the sharp sting of those thorns by covering your mitts with mitts. A thick pair of gardening gloves will prevent you from accidentally watering your roses with your own blood. (And, trust us, they do not grow up to be man-eating hell-spawn if you intentionally do this, either — so wear gloves!)
But wear the cheapest ones you can find, like these MidWest Quality Men's Leather Work Gloves ($1.97 with pickup at Lowe's, a low by $7). Assuming a similar lost / ruined / borrowed-and-not-returned schedule as the shears, you're looking at a lifetime cost of $9.85.
Ever the master of bad timing, love's holiday comes right as winter is getting its claws dug deep into the skin of the baby new year. In the parts of the country where this means bundling up, that means you're going to also need a greenhouse to keep your roses safe.
Sure, you can build one out of glass and wood yourself, but that assumes a lot about your carpentry skills. And, as this is not DIYnews, we'll just tell you where to buy one instead. Pick up the PlantHouse Portable Greenhouse Dome ($99 with free shipping, a low by $5) and be done with it. Well, almost done. Since each rosebush is about 4 feet in spherical diameter, you're going to need two of them — one for each bush. That's another $198 to our total. Egads!
Even if you buy a "disease resistant" rose bush, that doesn't mean it's disease immune; it just means that there's less of a chance of your bush catching some demon spore. Black-spot, rose rust, powdery mildew, downy mildew, cankers, honey fungus, verticillium wilt, and various species of phytophthora can all strike your plants like a ton of biological bricks. By applying a regimen of fungicide / pestiscide you can make the chances of your bush contracting something fatal even smaller.
Oh, and you should be looking after your plant's health from day-one, as a lot of what can ail a rose is way easier to prevent than cure. Protect them by applying something like Bayer All in One Rose & Flower Care Concentrate 32-oz. Bottle ($21.07 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $3), which is an all-in-one pest control / fungicide / fertilizer so, boom, your job is done in one spray ... every six weeks ... for the next 50 years. Boom, indeed.
Factoring out the weeks during winter where you don't need to feed them, and basing our calculations on a 2-oz. spray (as per the directions on the bottle) on each bush, every six weeks, for 50 years, you're going to need to buy 38 bottles of this stuff. That's $800.66. Gosh.
The End Result (FINALLY!)
And your grand total is [insert drum roll] $1,138.15! (Not including a large chunk of your own time caring for, protecting, nurturing, and loving some plants that will never love you back. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, the cheapest bouquet of one dozen red roses we can find is from 1-800-Flowers (38.24 via code "15VDAY13" with $19.99 s&h, a low by $12; search for "104941" to find them). Fifty years of buying that bouquet will run you $2,911.50 (assuming no inflation)!
So that means that growing your own roses will save you $1,773.35! Over 50 years that's $35.47 each year that stays in your pocket. Tax free! Not bad, right? So, as we hypothesized: Growing your own roses is, to our best (shoddy, loose, off-the-cuff) estimates, a good deal. QED!