Temecula Valley Rose Society

Rose Care Corner, August 2005

Our August weather in the valley is hot, hot, hot. Here are some handy rose care hints collected from an article by Mike Chute in the ARS magazine this month.

By Mike Chute

(Portions reprinted from the ARS American Rose Magazine, August 2005)

Watering: Keep roses hydrated. This requires more frequent watering—deep, penetrating soaks in mid-summer heat. Check the soil below each rose with your fingers. If it doesn't look or feel moist, then water. If in doubt, water anyway. Hand watering enables you to inspect and appreciate each rose, catching and controlling problems at the same time.

Mulching: Mulches insulate the soil and play an important role in good rose management. They serve to reduce soil temperature, control weeds, conserve moisture in the soil and enhance the appearance of your rose garden. There are two basic types of mulches—natural / organic, or synthetic mulches. Organic mulches include compost, wood chips, leaf mold, some farm manures, and seaweed. Use whatever mulching material is conveniently available. Compost, seaweed and leaf mold break down quickly and can be turned into the soil, adding nutrients and improving the texture, while others, like wood chips, are slow to decompose. Apply about a 2" to 4" layer for best results. Synthetic or inorganic mulches, such as water permeable landscape fabrics, are excellent in controlling weeds while allowing water and nutrients to pass through. Add a few inches of organic mulch on top and they become more functional and attractive.

Deadheading: The removal of spent blooms resets the rosebush for the next bloom cycle. It is a necessary practice to ensure the continuation of flower production on any remontant, or repeat-blooming, variety. Without dead heading, roses will continue on to the productions of seeds (hips), not more flowers. Usually, you will cut the stem of a spent bloom back to just above a leaf at a point thick enough to support a new stem and flower. An alternative method of dead heading is to simply snap off the faded bloom by hand or with pruners. This stimulates new growth from several growth buds lower down the stem and is ideal for first-year roses.

Evaluating: Review your rose garden and evaluate its performance. Start forming tentative decisions regarding what's good, what's bad, and (gulp!) what's ugly and plan the necessary adjustments later in the season.

Rose gardens are not static; they are dynamic, ever-changing works-in-progress and now is the time to start planning modifications and improvements for next season. Seems there is always some changing, moving, amending, and otherwise perpetually tweaking and fiddling with your rose garden. However, hold off on your plans for a few months because it's summertime now, high season for enjoying your roses.

Because most roses will improve dramatically in their second season, allow a rose at least two full seasons before final judgment. But if a rose is misplaced or really, really suffering, be willing to move it, pass it along to a friend, or discard it later in the year.




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