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 flys 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).
Online, a Double Knock Out Rose Bush will set you back about $23 (with $8 s&h). Considering each bush should yield a mess 'o flowers, that's a pretty good deal. 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.
But even if you buy a 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. (Yup, plants have lifespans, too — they're just like us!) 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 $167.79. 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?! Yeah! Let's buy more stuff!
Any old pair will do, as long as you keep them sharp. We found these Ridgerock Tools 8" Pruning Shears for $10.50 with free shipping. 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 sit-com, right?) So you'll have to buy a couple of sets. A fair estimate is probably one set every 10 years. So that's $105 more, over the lifetime of this mad project you've embarked on. Keep going!
As the immortal bard, Brett Michaels, wrote (and the immoral Miley Cyrus' covered), "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!)
These MidWest Quality Men's Leather Work Gloves are only $1.97 with pickup at Lowe's. Assuming a similar lost / ruined / borrowed-and-not-returned schedule as the shears, you're looking at a lifetime cost of $19.70. Not bad!
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 lest Jack Frost nip your nose until it turns black and falls off, that means you're going to also need to get yourself a greenhouse to keep your roses safe. For many of you, this is the part of this article where you throw your hands in the air in disgust, say, "enough is enough!" then click over to Reddit, or something.
If you're still reading, you'll be interested to hear about portable greenhouses. 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. This PlantHouse Portable Greenhouse Dome is only $99 with free shipping. Since each rosebush is about 4 feet in spherical diameter, you're going to need two of them — one for each bush. Add 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 ($15.19 with $9.16 s&h), 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 out 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 $925.30. Gosh. And that brings your overall total material costs to (drumroll, please): $1,415.79.
The End Result (FINALLY!)
So you'll be spending $1,415.79, in addition to a 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 Proflowers for $39.99 plus $12.98 for shipping, or $52.97 total. And 50 years of buying this bouquet will run you $2,648.50!
So that means that growing your own roses will save you $1,232.71! Over 50 years that's about $24.65/year. 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!