Tips and Tricks growing Roses
Preparation for the arrival of your new Rose
Where best to plant: Roses like full to part sun. Depending on the region in which you live, select a spot free of frost or prepare yourself to protect the plant from frost damage. Roses do grow in a range of temperatures from very cold to quite hot. They really are tough and hardy plants with the right care. Too much shade they will struggle quite poorly. They need the sunlight to draw energy through their leaves to nourish the plant. If it’s a dry spot mulch with a thick layer of organic mulch. I like mushroom compost or mulching hay as they break down without causing nitrogen loss to the plant too much. Other mulches will work equally well. This keeps the soil evenly moist and preferable to the roses.
For best results the soil will be well prepared to a depth of about 30cm or 1 foot deep. Dig over until the soil is soft enough for the plant to push the new roots out into the surrounding soil. In pots apply similar principles although bearing in mind generally pots will dry out faster and require more watering. We tend to use a mix of good potting mix and mushroom compost which improves the water holding capacity of the mix. The compost is also great in the garden. Check with your supplier that the compost is not sprayed or salted to prevent the regrowth of mushrooms.
Best to do prepare well ahead of time to allow any fertilisers or manures to age before planting the rose into it. Fresh manure or fertilisers may burn the roots of your new plant. Once burned the plant cannot take up water and will not survive. With any plant, rule of thumb is err on the side of caution. Safer to add the fertilisers after the plant is well established. A weak liquid seaweed solution such as seasol or natrakelp is best while the plant is young.
If planting in clay (roses do like a clay based soil) you may need to add some gypsum (clay breaker) to the soil. Clay based soils are often more acid than dry stony soils. There is much to know about soil PH. Please find below an interesting article which clearly explains in layman’s terms all about soil PH. Roses are not particularly fussy when it comes to soil type but they do prefer soils that are well-drained but hold moisture well and not allowed to dry out too much. In a dry or sandy soil the addition of well-rotted manures and compost can be a worthy addition to the soil.
Balancing Your PH for Growing Roses
By Steve Jones
Right before springtime, and just after pruning, you may need to make some adjustments to your soil, especially if you are planting new roses. One of the important elements of growing good roses concerns soil pH. Since I’m a chemist by training, I could bore you to tears with a lengthy explanation of what pH is. However, simply put, pH is the amount of acid (H+) or base (OH-) in the material. Numbers 0 to 6.9 are acidic, with 0 being extremely acidic. 7 is neutral (deionized water). Numbers 7.1 to 14 are basic, with 14 being extremely basic (caustic and alkaline are also commonly used terms for basic). Although most references differ, roses generally enjoy a pH of 6.0 through 6.9, with about 6.5 being ideal. In other words, the soil should be just slightly acidic. For pH outside this range, the availability of nutrients to the plant is greatly affected. For example, at a pH of 5.0 or less, phosphorous is ‘trapped’ by aluminum ions and rendered insoluble which cannot be absorbed by the plant. In the 6.0 to 6.9 range, all nutrients are in a form that is available to the plant. The more basic the soil, the less nutrients, such as iron, nitrogen, and manganese, can be absorbed.
So how do you test the soil? There are two methods commonly used for testing soil pH. In both cases, you need to collect a representative soil sample. Do not take a small sample, and don’t take one when there’s a lot of organic material. Scrape off the topsoil and collect a small hand shovel full of soil from ten to twenty places throughout the rose garden. Mix these together and let the soil dry. At this point you can send a portion of the soil to a lab for full or partial analysis, or you can purchase a home pH kit from a local nursery. If your soil is too acidic, add lime. If it is too basic, add either sulphur or aluminum sulfate. (Our Southern California soils tend to be on the basic side.) Don’t be too generous with the application, it doesn’t take much. Nurseries and rose supply catalogs have various pH test kits or meters available, ranging from $5-$15. They should also carry a supply of sulphur, lime, and aluminum sulfate.
This article was originally published in “Rose Ecstasy,” bulletin of Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society, Kitty Belendez, Editor. For more information please look up the website Click here to see link
Once Arrived and Ready to tuck into the Garden or Pot
bare-root and potted roses it is essential that they be soaked in water prior to planting. Some references do suggest roses are hardy to dry conditions which up to a point is true. However, when they are newly planted or removed from their soil it is important to rehydrate the plant until it is well established in it’s new home.
Plant your roses according to the directions on each individual label as varieties of rose plants will vary in size and vigour. About 1 to 1.5 metres apart is good for larger roses, for smaller bushes or hedges you might want your holes only 60cm centres.
Roses may be started from cuttings having their own root system or they may be started by cuttings of a stronger plant which then the individual varieties are grafted to. This may be helpful in difficult soil conditions as the root system will be stronger or more suitable for various soil types.
If you look at your rose it will have a root system, graft union and leaf buds, etc.
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Best to plant with the graft union the piece where the lowest side branch meets the main stem or the ball like join onto the stem about 2 to 4cm above the soil level. This will prevent the graft union from rot. Anything that grows below this union is growing from the root stock if it is a grafted plant. This is not desirable because it will be much stronger growth and different from the plant you purchased. It will be so hardy it will consume your original plant and the graft over time will die and the rootstock take over. Simply snip off anything that grows below the graft union.
Anything that grows from the graft union itself is called a water-shoot. These are valuable new growth that will give you flowers with lovely long stems and big heads. Do not cut these off. Completely different to something that grows below the graft.
Be sure to carefully compact the soil around the plant and water in well. Continue watering to keep the soil at consistently moist until the plant is well established.
So.. by now I have filled your head with a lot to learn if you’ve only just started.
- Prepare the soil, well dug with lots of organic matter, gypsum if required to break clay.
- In pots a large pot with again lots of organic matter to hold moisture
- Check the soil PH, essentially the moisture holding capacity of the soil. If it’s too dry, the plant will die. Add lime or sulphur if required but this must be done weeks prior to planting. There is no turned back from a burned plant.
- Not too much fertiliser at this stage. Weak seaweed type solutions are best.
- Dig the hole and plant with union about 2cm above the soil.
- Carefully compact the soil around the plant and water.. and water… and water. Every day!
_How to Care for our young plant _
Are roses easy to maintain? The simple answer is yes; but they do require a little know how.
Roses like their food. Like you would feed your children, feed your roses often. Not too much or they will get a tummy ache. Too much of a good thing is not good. At the farm here we use liquid manures, natrakelp, trace elements and condies crystals. I’ve been told Epsom salts is also great!
Initially I recommend water, that’s all. Better to be safe than sorry. When the plant shows it’s leaves coming out of dormancy is a good time for nitrogen rich fertilizers like the liquid manure which is going to give the plant it’s healthy green leaves. These will feed the root system and give the plant strength. Seaweed based fertilizers are also great to do this. NOT TOO MUCH at a time. The biggest mistake made other than too little water is too much fertilizer in one hit. It’s like giving a baby 5 meals in one go and force feeding it. It’s going to be one very sick little bubba. Depending on what you fed it, it may live or it may not. If you don’t feed it at all, like that little baby it won’t survive on air either.
If your plant has yellow leaves or stems and looks like it may be lacking in something, chances are it either has something making it sick or it simply needs some food or medicine. Working out which is like trying to decide what is wrong with a baby. It can’t tell you. You’re going to need to go through a process of elimination. Go through all the factors mentioned above and if you come up with nothing, try adding a weak trace elements solution according to it’s instructions. (you can buy a box of trace elements from your local plant supplies store)
The plant now has healthy green leaves and moving on into flower buds. It now needs potassium. Many people have told me they give their banana peels and rotted bananas to their roses. Great idea because bananas are full of potassium. That’s going to work for sure. Another tip is to use condies crystals (potassium permanganate) just a touch, remember less is best, touch on the end of your finger to a bucket full of water, just very slightly pink. Feed that to your roses at flowering time. It will intensify the colour in the flowers; and just quietly I think that along with our soil PH of 5.5/6 is what gave us that stunning purple rose we posted on facebook. DON’T OVERDO IT. It will burn if too strong.
Sprays and Pest Resistance
Personally, I like to promote plant health rather than disease control. A healthy plant tends to repel its own pests and diseases within reason.
Black Spot: If you see black spot don’t stress too much. It isn’t absolutely detrimental to your plant. It’s not great, but it isn’t going to kill all your roses. It means the plant is lacking in something. Sometimes it’s a more susceptible variety but I’ve found in many cases more regular watering is a big part of the solution. Sometimes it’s a lack of nutrient after the plant has been abundantly flowering. Give it a good drink and a feed and it will generally come good without too much else. I tend to collect and dispose of diseased leaves and stems, just in case. As for fungicide sprays, we don’t use them so I don’t recommend anything in particular. I’d rather put up with a few issues, none major than use the spray; personal preference.
Dusty/Downy Mildew/Botritis: Generally too wet or too dry, lack of air movement. I just remove the damaged foliage, but if the problem is significant, best to seek further advice.
Die-back: Normally caused by lack of water, part of the stem will start to turn yellow and die. It can be caused by damaged roots that can’t take up water or a lack of nutrient. Generally diagnose and treat the cause and remove the dying part of the bush with sharp secateurs cutting at just above a healthy leaf bud. The plant should shoot from there if it has no other reason to die.
Bugs: Well… Let’s start with aphids, crawly little sap suckers; if you squash them early it tends to kerb the spread. Ladybugs are the best, they eat hundreds of the little blighters. Whatever you do look after the good ladybeetles. There are bad imposters these days. I call them honey beatles that come in swarms of thousands. They eat the plants to death. Horrid creatures. There is also another with different spots. Read up below and know the difference. We definitely want the good guys!
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Scale Insect: Another of those dreaded sap-suckers; treat with white oil or to prevent them or a solution of dish water will often deter them. Generally I find the sap-suckers are worst when conditions are dry.
Grasshoppers: Hmmn.. My grand-daughter told me we can kill the big ones but not the little babies. Well, that’s a bit hard to cope with so I eliminate the big ones humanely and the little ones get thrown to the words of “you can live if you go and eat grass”. We try to do things as organically as we possibly can here as some of our roses are sold as edible flowers.
Grubs: There is a tiny little grub that burrows into the bud and eats volumes more than it’s own body weight. For those about once or twice a year we need to spray. We use lanate. Others suggest dipel. I don’t like using anything and strongly recommend protective clothing and spray when it’s still and the ladybeetles and bees have gone to bed. I try really hard not to spray when I see ladybeetles because we don’t know what harm we might be causing to eggs and larvae we don’t see. They are super precious.
Spiders: There is a hideous little green and yellow spider, really tiny, that sits in the middle of my roses and kills the bees. It lies and wait and then jumps out and the bee dies. I’ve watched them in absolute fascination as this tiny little thing only about a quarter the size of your little finger nail, attacks a full-size bee. Bit of a worry!!!! ☹
Pruning and cutting your rose plants
Generally, if you have a very young plant, 1 year old, etc, not too much pruning needed and best to keep the top in tact to help to feed the new root system. Remove anything broken or damaged and when cutting always cut just above a leaf bud, preferably a bud facing in a direction away from the centre of the plant if possible. When cutting flowers also apply this principle to prevent the plant dying back to it’s nearest leaf bud. Generally, we will be aiming to produce a vase shape with the branches all heading away from the centre. On a mature plant anything growing to the centre should be removed. Remove anything too spindly and remove anything too old to produce flowers. With standards, a little different approach; always visualize where the shoot is pointing to and aim to have the flowers come in that nice even sphere shape.
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We will expand on this over time. If anyone has any other information they would like to give to fellow rose lovers drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider the material for inclusion on our page.
Many thanks and very happy Rose Gardening,
From Lyn and Barry.