Roses have been the world's most popular flowers for centuries, and certainly with cause. They're suited to a wide range of soils and climates, and they're colorful and fragrant. But they certainly aren't foolproof. Let's cover the basics.Roses need full sun to bloom to their best potential. At a minimum, they need at least eight hours of sun during the middle of the day. Put more emphatically, they are intolerant of shade.Good drainage is a must. That's why so many rosarians grow their plants in raised beds that stand 6 to 8 inches above the surrounding grade. That ensures that rainy spells won't lead to stagnant soils and ruined roots.Rose beds should consist of 5 to 6 inches of organic matter (compost, rotted manure, finely ground pine bark mulch and sphagnum peat moss) and an inch of expanded shale, all tilled into the top foot of native topsoil.Good air circulation reduces outbreaks of black spot disease. Many varieties of roses are highly susceptible to the fungus. While it won't normally kill them immediately, it renders them unsightly and weakened. Don't plant them in tight corners where humid air accumulates.Roses show off best when their beds are out some distance from the house. They are semi-evergreen, so they're not much to look at during the winter dormant season. Plant them against the fence. Better yet, plant them in front of an evergreen backdrop.Buy quality plants. In February, you'll find packaged roses. This is the old-fashioned way all roses were sold. They were dug and "bare-rooted," then packed into moist sphagnum moss. You'll still see them sold this way, but avoid plants that have been held indoors in chain stores. Those plants won't be acclimated to outdoor conditions, and they may not have been of the highest quality to start with. Buy from local retail nurseries, and buy strong, healthy plants.Container-grown plants have become the favored way to buy roses. You may find them in nurseries already, but most won't bring them out into their sales yards for a month or two. You'll have great selections by late March into April.Texas A&M, notably a team lead by Dr. Steve George of the AgriLife Extension Service, has identified more than two dozen of the best-performing rose varieties and labeled them as Earth-Kind selections. Most local independent retail garden centers will have them as spring unfolds, and you can plant them knowing that they will thrive with the least possible care. This project began more than 15 years ago, and it has become recognized nationally. Some of the selections are contemporary modern roses, but many of them are long-proven heirlooms. Find more information about them at aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkindroses.Roses require grooming and pruning. If you have established bush roses, it's prime time to trim them. Your goal will be to remove half of each plant's height, making each cut just above a bud that faces away from the center of the plant. If the plant is 6 feet tall when you begin, it should be 3 feet tall when you're finished. Remove all weak, unproductive canes in the process.Climbing roses are pruned somewhat differently. Those types that only bloom in the spring, like Lady Banksia and old-fashioned Blaze roses, should be pruned only after they finish flowering in April. They produce flower buds on the prior year's growth. Everblooming climbers, by comparison, should be pruned lightly as needed now, and again if required to maintain good form during the growing season.Watch for rose rosette as you prune. This fatal virus is becoming all too common in North Texas rose gardens. Affected plants will throw out extremely rank and thorny stalks. If you think your plants may be afflicted, compare your plants with online photos. Affected plants must be dug and destroyed. The virus is spread by insects, but it can also be carried on pruning tools. There is no control for it, and you should not replant roses into those same soils for several years.Keep your plants properly fed. Soil test results will show which nutrients need to be added. You'd normally expect to be adding phosphorus, since it is the element responsible for promoting good blooms, but most of our local soils test excessively high in phosphorus already. Don't be surprised if the tests suggest that you add only a quality high-nitrogen plant food monthly March through September.Neil Sperry publishes "Gardens" magazine and hosts "Texas Gardening" from 8 to 11 a.m. Sundays on WBAP AM/FM. Reach him during those hours at 800-288-9227 or 214-787-1820.