Of all the plants in your garden, roses require the most attention because of their unique requirements. Roses enjoy living uncluttered and clean. Without attention to the minor details of weeding, cleaning, and mulching, the nutrients they so desperately need will cause them to loss their vibrancy and eventually they’ll wither into nothing but a spindly bed of thorns.
However, they’ll thrive for many years with just the minimal amounts of attention. There are records that show roses can survive twenty or more years, especially wild roses. A sure indication of a neglected rose garden is sparse flowering, dead canes, weak shoots, and numerous canes sprouting suckers.
The beginning of a garden you hope will last for years starts with selecting the right rose variety for your climate zone. You can easily determine the right rose for your climate by reading the care instructions on the package. Most garden centers will only carry roses suitable for that region. But it never hurts to check out growing conditions required for that particular rose.
The next most important consideration is the growing site for your new plant. We all know how important sunshine is for roses. Whether the rose bush requires some shade or minimal shade, six hours is the rule of thumb espoused by most rosarians.
Besides location, the soil in the planting area needs to be attended to. The more precise it is for your rose variety, the more success you’ll have growing the rose. One of the key features for roses, and any other gardening plant, is well-drained soiled. Stagnant and wet soil is certainly not healthy for your rose. The soil can be easily adjusted if the prevailing conditions don’t support rose growing. I’ve found that using a bit of compost to loosen and aerate the soil for drainage is the least expensive and easiest solution.
Next, roses require air circulation. Don’t plant them too close. Rose bushes bunched together encourage fungi and other bacteria to propagate. I have found that 24-36 inches between plants is a good rule of thumb. Pests don’t like exposure. So this planting distance should keep them at bay, outside the normal occurrences, which can be easily dealt with.
Roses just don’t tolerate bugs and other garden pests like some plants. Correcting the problem immediately is the first step. Identify the type of pest that you’re seeing on your rose bushes. Get rid of any obvious bugs right away. The safest precaution is to cut off the entire leaf. Bugs can multiple fast because they lay eggs early and often. If you don’t want to rid yourself of the leaf, at least check it thoroughly.
Another solution, if the problem persists is chemicals. I often try to avoid this and only consider it as a last resort. And when I do, I’ll go with natural compounds first and then the harsher synthetic ones. If using synthetics be sure to follow directions carefully. The last thing you want to do is accidentally shock your plant or cause a worse problem than the bugs presented.
In between choosing to use natural versus synthetics, there is a third option. Once you’ve determined the type of pests you are trying to rid your roses of, do some research on what other insects thrive on the insects you’re trying to get rid of. There are a variety of wasps and ladybugs that you can introduce into the garden that may just do the trick.
Rose bush vitality is all about pruning early and often. There are going to be parts of your plants that don’t respond well no matter what you do. This can be frustrating. But, one of the ways I’ve alleviated this frustration is by focusing on my pruning skills. I have found that by employing correct pruning techniques for the various varieties of my roses, they seem to respond by focusing most of their energy on new growth, which allow the unhealthy portions of the plant to fall away readily. It’s probably a nature thing. I have seen improvements in the size and color of blooms, an increase in the number of budding shoots and an overall healthier appearance. You definitely can’t go wrong by focusing on the proper pruning of your rose plants.
It’s difficult to write about roses and not mention the most important rose care techniques. But I promised you a simple guide in this article for monthly rose care. It is ordered monthly so you’ll know what research to do for your roses over the entire year. So here are my monthly tips.
– January…We don’t want our plants to die because the roots froze during the colder season; so cover the ground next to your rose bushes.
– February...It starts to get a bit dry in some parts of the country in February. If you water, do it during the warmest part of the day.
– March...Check with your local gardening shop. They can recommend dormant oil, useful for ridding your roses of mites, and aphids as the weather heats up.
– April...Now is the time to be bold. Trim the diseased and dead wood from your roses and start the deep watering process to promote the growth of new shoots and canes.
– May...Unhealthy canes and leaves begin to appear during this month. Trim them with confidence, start your fertilizing routine and give them massive amounts of water.
– June...When the blooms are gone, get rid of them. This will encourage continued flowering. Remember roses love water, so keep pouring it on. Now’s also is the time to watch closely for pests.
– July…More water, please. Add some mulch to keep the soil aerated.
– August...Prune the spent blooms methodically and water only during the cooler parts of the day.
– September…Allow the last rose hips to complete the blooming process as encouragement for completion of the growing cycle. Water your roses deeply about every other week.
– October…Heat generally begins to taper off about now. Deep water your roses at least once this month.
– November…Check on your roses from time to time. If the ground is dry, add some water, while removing any debris that has accumulated.
– December...Now is the time to plan next years garden. Grab some catalogs, do some research and prepare for next years rose garden extravaganza.
I am especially excited about the newest addition to my garden this year. Chihuly (‘WEKscemala”), F, rb, Carruth, 2004. I first spotted them in a friend’s garden several years ago. They took my breath away with their dazzling colors and full blossoms. It was like looking at a piece of fine art, aptly named for the artist it represents. We’ll talk more about how roses get their names and designations in future articles.
Tim McMillan is a rose gardening enthusiast and chief editor of Rose Gardening News.