Here’s how to stop chasing the things that aren’t working, and start loving what is:
First, think about what attributes you really want:Say you grow those giant ruffly Fuchsias that are so prone to Fuchsia Gall Mite in our coastal climate. What is it you really want out of them? Loads of purple and magenta flowers that will spill over in a shady container? Something to attract hummingbirds? There are substitutes for each of those attributes. Maybe you have a shady woodland garden under the trees, but long for big bodacious blooms like you think of for sunny gardens, and keep planting things that say “full sun to part shade”, hoping that “does well in part shade” will translate into “does well in full shade” once you get them home. Once you finally give up the sickly roses and move towards the shade section in the nursery, you can find loads of cheerful color, cut flowers and foliage for vases, and fragrance. The shade won’t hold you back from an amazing flower garden (I promise!) – it is the expectation that your shady garden support specific sun-loving plants that leaves you feeling let-down. Whatever it is you’re doing that’s not working for you, think about your real goals: Is it a specific color or flower shape? Fragrance? Stems you can cut for a vase? Or something that reminds you of your childhood home? Perhaps there’s another plant, or couple of plants, that can give you what you want without needing spraying or fussing with.
Next, swap out overbred, disease-prone plants for their sturdy, old-fashioned, or simpler-flowered counterparts.With roses, we often want a large hybrid tea rose, bred for big gorgeous flowers that we can cut and bring indoors. But breeding for one specific attribute like flower color or size can lead to a plant with a perfect bloom, but without the vigor to withstand everyday stresses. As Pomona Belvedere points out in the comments for this article:
I love some of the hybrid teas, but it is a fact that they are the most disease-prone high-maintenance roses around. David Austin roses are a wonderful reblooming alternative, as are many other shrub roses, grandifloras, and floribundas. Tea roses (precursors to HTs) do well in hot climates; hybrid musks are great in semi-shade; Buck Roses are good for cold climates. So are a lot of old roses, though many of them bloom just once. But beautifully. And historically.If you love roses but hate spraying, try these disease-resistant rose varieties for the coastal Pacific Northwest. Are you a fan of Fuchsias? Fuchsia thymifolia, with tiny fairy-sized flowers, and Fuchsia magellanica, a large shrub with slender, drooping bells in either magenta with purple, or pale pink (‘Alba’), look a lot different from the giant pom-poms we see in so many Fuchsia hybrids, but they are resistant to the Fuchsia Gall Mite that distorts the leaves of so many hybrids. Many ruffly Camellia flowers hold moisture and get a bacterial disease when they bloom, which turns their flowers brown. The simple beauty of Camellias that only have a single row of petals on their flower is enhanced by the fact that the plainer flower doesn’t get diseased. Check out simple-flowered Sasanqua Camellias like ‘Yuletide’, or the variety ‘Fairy Blush’ for a flower that won’t turn brown and mushy in the rain.