Temecula Valley Rose Society
Rose Care Corner, March 2007By Frank Brines - Consulting Rosarian
M arch is a busy month in your rose garden—and that assumes that you have already finished pruning, removed leaf debris, and applied dormant spray. (If you haven't, you're going to be even busier—but it'll be worth it!) Once all that is done, it's time to begin a feeding program. If you haven't applied magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) yet this season, do it now to stimulate basal cane development. I sprinkle 2 tablespoons around each plant, about 18 inches out from the bud union, and then scratch it into the soil.
When new growth is 3-4 inches long, begin applying fertilizers. Some notes on fertilizers:
- After the first feeding, apply 3 inches of composted mulch over the entire garden, leaving a few inches of space around the base of the plant.
- Feed and spray every 2 weeks. Before feeding, give your roses a deep watering the day before and a few days after.
- I discourage the use of "systemic" products that contain insecticides or fungicides. They can contaminate the pests, creating toxic meals for beneficial predators as the praying mantis; they can also kill beneficial fungi in the soil.
- No one fertilizer contains all the elements needed for a good balance, so alternate with two or more different types. While I cannot endorse any products as an ARS Consulting Rosarian, I can tell you that I am applying Dr. Earth Rose Food and fish emulsion on alternate feedings.
At least once a week, take a relaxing stroll through your rose garden looking for pest and disease. If you're trying to reduce your use of synthetic chemicals, you will need to keep ahead of the pests and diseases, as "natural" and "organic" products are often more effective as preventative measures than as therapeutic ones.
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