Gardener shares passion for hybrid tea roses

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
A Queen Elizabeth tea rose bares its petals in Lorrie Kraft's garden on Oct. 11. Kraft has grown tea roses for 25 years.

COLUMBIA — Lorrie Kraft has always loved roses.

She was introduced to hybrid tea roses around the age of 16 or 18 when her mother started growing them. Kraft took over after her mother developed a heart condition and could no longer tend the roses, and Kraft said she’s “loved having them since.”

“I always felt like I was kind of a shepherd who takes care of a flock,” she said. “I just kind of tend them like you tend sheep. They’re not really my roses, they’re God’s roses, but I tend them and take care of them.”

Now in her 60s, Kraft has been tending the roses for around 45 years, though they aren’t the easiest to grow in Columbia.

She said the growth of the roses depends on the climate, humidity and cold.

“As long as it stays nice through November, they will bloom probably until the weather gets cold,” Kraft said. “I have watered them during this drought very nicely and feed them every four to six weeks.”

Growing hybrid tea roses takes a lot of discipline, she said.

“I usually start early in the morning,” Kraft said. “I might be out there at 5:30 in the morning to water them.”

Kraft’s tea roses are around 8 to 9 feet tall during the fall season. She then cuts them down to about 12 inches and covers them for the winter. In turn, the roses grow back in the spring. Kraft said some of her roses have been around for nearly 20 years.

From pink and yellow-edged Tiffanys to red, pink and white Snowfires to her personal favorites, Double Delights — a mix of colors — Kraft has 38 different kinds of hybrid tea roses.

Her roses can be seen at 1209 Weaver Drive in Columbia.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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