Stillwater News Press


May 12, 2012

In the Garden 05-13-12

In the context of roses and degree of care should they be considered a high-maintenance plant?

I do not think so. Roses, like any blooming shrub, do require some maintenance but, if carefully selected, their upkeep can be minimal.

I mentioned a few weeks ago the catch words “disease resistant” as the description that indicates if that variety is. Without those specific words one can expect black spot and other fungal or bacterial diseases.   

Prevention is always the best medicine. Avoid water spray on foliage susceptible to black spot. In wet springs, weekly applications of a chemical will be necessary to keep the disease at bay and the rose’s foliage looking nice.  

Many products are available to combat foliar diseases, but I suggest a neem oil as it will perform double duty by deterring some insect pests as well.  

Neem works as a barrier on bacterial and fungal disease on foliage and though effective on discouraging aphids, spider mites, Japanese and cucumber beetles, it does not disturb beneficial insects that form the natural balance in a garden.  

Be sure to read and follow label instructions regarding application times and temperatures to prevent further problems.

Deadheading — the removing of dead flowers — is another area of rose maintenance. When rose petals fall, the small stem should be snipped off.  

Many varieties will stop producing flowers when seeds (hips) are forming on the bush. Most hybrids, including Knock-outs, create a flush of blooms every five to six weeks.

While genes determine the repeat flowering, plants look tidier and Knock-out recommends a light shearing in between the bloom cycles.  

I have friends who enjoy the mindless task of deadheading on a bright summer morning. I prefer snip, snipping as I walk past, thereby eliminating an added garden chore. Gathering roses for indoor bouquets also keeps deadheading and pruning to a minimum.

Pruning is the final component of rose care. Entire books have been written on the topic. I will give it a paragraph. Minimal maintenance is my aim. I find I can cut flowers for the table and still have plenty of blooms in the yard. This way pruning happens at casual intervals.

Always cut to an outside bud and to a leaf that has five leaflets. This maintains an open shape. Each winter, remove weak or dead canes as close to the ground as possible. Cut other canes back by at least half.

The final secret to healthy roses is Epsom salts. One cup watered in each spring/summer and — stand back!

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