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Rita Perwich of San Diego Rose Society Gives You Top Tips

Written By: Sarah Hood
Photographed By: Kambria Fischer

Expert: Rita Perwich
Credentials: Master Gardener and Member of the San Diego Rose Society

Q: How did you first develop an interest in rose gardening?

Rita Perwich: Every April, Coronado puts on a beautiful flower show in Spreckels Park. There is also a section for roses. I was new to gardening and had planted 10 roses in my garden. The day of the show, I cut one rose and entered it in the show. It won the Best Novice Rose trophy and I was immediately hooked on roses! I was asked if I wanted to co-chair the Rose Section. I accepted and am still chairing the Rose Section. That was 17 years ago!

Q: What led you to become involved with the San Diego Rose Society?

RP: I attended an all-day seminar put on by the SDRS. I learned so much and was so impressed by the speakers, and everyone’s passion for roses was contagious. Plus, everyone was so friendly. It was wonderful but I wanted more, so I started attending the monthly meetings in Balboa Park.

Q: Tell me about what the title of Master Gardener entails. What is your role in assisting the rose-growing public?

RP: In San Diego, Master Gardeners are trained by University of California Cooperative Extension specialists in home horticulture and pest management. Master Gardeners are involved in many programs such as community gardens, the Braille Institute, a program with incarcerated youth, our hotline and you have probably seen us at the San Diego County Fair and farmers markets. I am also an American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian, and our goal is to strive to inspire and encourage people to grow roses by providing information for them to be successful. I have also been a speaker at the Master Gardener Spring Seminar, and I teach the annual rose pruning workshop in Coronado Library’s rose garden.

Q: Why do you think it is important for aspiring gardeners to join groups like the San Diego Rose Society? What impact does membership have?

RP: Very simply, you will learn to grow better roses. Membership provides you with the opportunity to join a community of rose lovers and to participate in all the fabulous events we have in the year, including our beautiful Rose Show in April at Liberty Station, our annual Rose Pilgrimage, our rose garden in the San Diego County Fair and a wonderful Christmas party in a fabulous rose garden. Plus, when you come to meetings, you are able to ask all your rose questions and get them answered! Next year there will be a huge national rose convention in San Diego, and if you love roses you must not miss this event!

Q: What are your top suggestions for growing spectacular roses?

RP: First and foremost, pick the right rose. You want to grow a disease resistant rose that does well locally. This is also why you want to get input from the SDRS and local growers. Take care in planting your roses well and amend your soil with organics. It is so important to feed the soil. Roses need sun, they need fertilizer, and they need water. They also need to be pruned every year in order for them to start their new year’s growth on healthy and vigorous canes. Educate yourself and learn what the pests in the rose garden look like.

Extra! Read About Roses: Rita Perwich writes a monthly column called “The Sustainable Rose Garden” for the San Diego Union Tribune on the first Saturday of each month.

Let it Grow: She strongly recommends utilizing “nature’s biological controls” such as lady beetles and praying mantises, and even larger creatures like birds and spiders, in tandem with proper gardening techniques to help your garden grow.

San Diego Rose Society

Photoshoot Location:
Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
2125 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92104