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Rose Care

Roses are the queens of the garden. Nothing can compare to the beauty and the fragrance of a freshly cut rose from your own rose garden. Nothing strikes fear in the gardener quite like the thought of the work needed to produce that show-quality bloom. The following is a series of tips and pointers that will help you get the most out of your roses and avoid some of the work and the head-aches.

Soil Preparation:

For best results, roses should be planted in an elevated bed. This allows maximum control over the condition of the soil. A proper height would be between 12 and 18 inches. The following mixture of soil and amendments will give a good, well-drained, medium for best growth and performance. Mix together 5 parts loamy soil, 4 parts organic matter (pine bark {fine}, compost, or peat moss), 1 part builders' sand, and 1 part well-rotted manure. These should be mixed to a depth of at least 12 inches. Also add about 10 lbs of bone meal and gypsum per 100 sq ft. The soil pH should be between 6 and 6.8, so add whatever lime is necessary to correct the pH level.

Planting:

Plant roses in a single row if the bed is 4 feet wide, in a double row if the bed is 6-8 feet wide. Allow 3 feet between plants. Dig your holes 18 inches wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots while leaving the bud union (or graft) level with the soil surface. Spread the roots of bare-root plants out evenly in the hole, making sure not to leave air spaces around the roots as you fill the hole. Firm the soil gently around the plants to press out air cavities and prevent shifting of the plant in the hole. Cover the surface of the bed with pine bark mulch to conserve moisture and keep weeds down.

Fertilizing:

For established roses, feed monthly beginning in mid-April and continuing through mid-August. An effective way to fertilize roses is to use a product called "Systemic Rose & Flower Care." This product combines a good, balanced rose food with a granular, systemic insecticide to help control insect pests such as spider mites. This doesn't eliminate existing pest problems, but will help prevent infestations from getting established. Use a handful (1/2-2/3 cup) of 10-10-10 fertilizer per shrub and Osmocote according to directions. Rose-tone also works well. Water after applying granular fertilizer.

Watering:

Roses consume a fair quantity of water, so regular irrigation is essential. Slow, deep watering is best, to ensure good penetration of moisture through the root zone. The most important thing to remember is to keep water off the foliage as much as possible. Water on the leaves contributes to fungal disease problems. Always check the soil moisture levels under the mulch before watering.

Pruning:

Different roses have different pruning requirements. For Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, and Floribunda varieties, prune lightly through the season to remove fading flowers and damaged growth as needed. Always trim back shoots to a leaflet of five or more leaves. The buds at the base of these leaflets are more likely to produce new flower buds and not just vegetative growth. Prune all canes to about hip high at the end of the season to prevent wind and ice damage during the winter. Prune everything to 18" and thin out the weakest and oldest canes, as well as any diseased or damaged wood. This should be done just before new growth starts in Spring. For shrub and flower carpet types, prune to remove damaged and dead growth and to shape.

Insect and Disease Control:

Conventional roses are one of the most maintenance-intensive plants in the garden. In our climate, foliar diseases can be serious. Black Spot fungus and powdery mildew are the two most common. The best way to control these diseases is to start on a good preventative spray program early in the season. Daconil fungicide does a good job at controlling both of these problems. Rotating the fungicides regularly will also help prevent resistance from developing. The most common insect problems are spider mites, aphids, Japanese Beetles, thrips, and rose slugs. Rotate insecticides according to season and pest to achieve maximum control. For shrub roses and flower carpet roses, the insect and disease problems are less severe and less spraying is required. As with disease control, preventative insecticides are more effective than heavy spraying once a problem is firmly entrenched.