Dreaming Roses

When we think of Roses it immediately conjures up lots of romantic thoughts— our grandmothers may have had fabulous beds of roses, weddings are festooned with roses — they are luscious, fragrant and abundant in our contemplated garden.

When thinking about designing a new garden everyone wants to weave in some of these fanciful beauties as they epitomize the idealized garden.

But they can also be known to be persnickety and overly fussy —they get black spot, a vast array of bugs descends seemingly out of nowhere to devour the leaves and precious flowers. Japanese beetles seem to be visiting our gardens earlier and earlier each summer to do their dreaded damage.

But take heart, there is a lot you can do to prevent these diseases and critters from destroying your dream rose garden. Initial good preparation of the soil is vital, along with selecting the right varieties that are disease-resistant and long-blooming.

Select a site that gets about 6-9 hours of sun a day, and good drainage is imperative as roses do not like having “wet feet.” When planting a rose, dig a very generous hole about twice the size of the rose. Be sure to give the rose a generous area to grow in as good air circulation is essential to healthy roses.

Plan on planting new roses either early in the morning or on an overcast day — avoid planting on sunny hot days or late in the day.

Remove heavy or clay like soil and discard replace with either home grown compost or lobster compost which is abundant in beneficial trace minerals. Fill the new hole with approximately 1/3 compost, add a slow release organic fertilizer which will gradually feed the rose throughout the growing season. Carefully, remove rose from the nursery pot and place gently in the new hole. Continue adding compost allowing the roots to settle in and fill the hole. At this point, it is time to water the rose before filling the hole completely.

Fill a large watering can with about 3 gallons of water, add about 4-5 tablespoons of liquid sea weed and fish emulsion fertilizer. Water the hole well, allowing the water to seep in very gradually. Wait several minutes and water the rose again — repeat this process a third time before backfilling the hole with more compost–tamping gently with your foot to fill in any air pockets. Aim to position the rose at the same depth it was growing in the nursery pot.

Allow the rose to settle in for a few days and repeat with a very diluted solution of sea weed and fish emulsion. Aim to allow the rose to receive about 1” of water per week to get it well established.

To prevent black spot and other diseases, spray regularly with diluted Neem oil, 2 tablespoons of baking soda and a small dash of liquid dish detergent. Consistent use of this combination will prevent and eliminate the typical dreaded rose diseases. I aim to spray my roses every 7-10 days. Spray early in the morning or on cool overcast days. Do not spray rose on hot sunny days. Excessive periods of rain may increase mildew and black spot. To revive them, you can cut them back about 50% — remove and discard any diseased leaves and flowers especially from the ground surrounding your beds.

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