Roses in June

images courtecy: Roaches Nurseries

Roses as we all know are a deciduous plant and in winter they shed their leaves and have a nice rest till the advent of spring. With the weather being so mild to date, our friends the roses, are still in leaf with some flowers on a few plants. The longer this situation continues, reduces the rest period before next spring and can effect their possible potential in the coming season.
Wet, cold weather along with a few hard frosts does wonders in cleaning up problems of pests and diseases that the previous season saw. Plus we all need our rest to be able to preform at our best.
The question arises, ‘What should we do with our roses at this time?’
We could just leave them and hope that winter will do the job for us sometime before we need to prune in July/August period. Alternatively we can help force them into having a rest now by cutting all the canes of our bush and standard roses back to half. At the same time we might as well remove any dead, diseased or spindly canes. Then we can do one of two things; spray the reduced canes with Lime Sulphur to burn off any remaining foliage and assist in wiping out any disease spores or pests harboring on the canes. (In other words we are doing what a few hard frosts would do.) This would be a good spray to use if you have had a fair bit of disease problems through the season.

The alternative for those that have not had too much in the way of problems, is to spray the canes with Liquid Copper.
We all want to have the best looking roses, free of diseases and pests and if we do the right thing by working with the natural forces of Nature it becomes a relatively simple task.

Insect pests such as aphids and scale prefer nitrogen rich sappy growth so avoid using rose fertilisers and Nitrophoska and your pest problems will lessen. Instead use natural products such as blood & bone, compost, dolomite and sheep manure pellets.
By not using these man made fertilisers will also greatly reduce your disease problems.

Aphids will still appear on your roses in the spring but a simple natural spray of Key Pyrethrum and Neem Tree Oil will give you safe control.

Diseases that may have been on your roses this past season will have released spores which are harboring in the soil waiting for spring.

Here is a simple way to reduce their numbers in the soil. Place newspaper on the soil about 5-6 sheets thick and wet them down. Cover the paper with compost about 2 cm thick. What you have done is created a feeding ground for worms who just love wet newspaper. As worms move through the soil they take the soil into their bodies along with the disease spores and effectively kill the spores.

You have also created a environment for microbes to thrive in the soil along with beneficial fungi.
The greater the populations of these tiny creatures and web strands, the healthier your soil and plants will be.

To aid the soil life action for can drench the soil/ compost/newspaper a couple of times over the next few months with a combination of Mycorrcin and Magic Botanical Liquid.(MBL) These two products feed the soil life and clean up harmful residues in the soil. Now having achieved a healthier soil do not ruin it by applying Rose fertiliser or Nitrophoska as these products are acidic and harm both worms and soil life. Also avoid using any chemical weed killers near your roses including glyphosate ones.
If you have in the past season been using man made fertilisers then you need to apply Rapid Lime around your roses to sweeten the soil (otherwise the worms will not come near). The more worms you have in your soil the healthier the soil and plants will be. If you have low or no worm populations you have a problem that needs to be rectified.

After your final pruning at winter’s end you can further enhance the health of your roses by applying all the minerals that they would like in their diet. The once a year application of Ocean Solids and Simalith will achieve this. In spring the new growths on our roses are very healthy and we should do all that we can to maintain this healthy aspect. A 2 to 4 weekly spray over the foliage and soil of MBL and Mycorrcin will greatly assist.

The reason that the foliage is so healthy is because the soil food web has been able to grow and expand and we need to protect this fragile life. The avoidance of chemicals is a must and also one needs to consider what is coming out of your tap. Chlorine is used to kill microbes in our drinking water and it will also knock back the beneficial soil life. During winter and spring with ample rainfall we have no need to water and everything is healthier as a result. Once the soil moisture levels drop out comes the hose and everything changes. I came to realise this last season, so to overcome the problem I placed suitable filters on my outside taps to remove the chlorine. This made a big difference to all my plants and gardens in fact the water was just about as good as rain. (not quite as rain has other benefits lost to tap water).

New Season Roses are now starting to come into garden centres and many will pick out a few new specimens to add to their existing collection.

If you buy a rose that is potted up in a bag in a mix to keep the roots moist then you only have to ensure that the mix is kept moist till you plant out. Bare rooted roses should be ‘heeled in’ till you are ready to plant out. (Heeled in means digging a hole and temporarily planting them in a group). The most important aspect in planting new roses is to place them in a spot where they are going to get plenty of sunlight. The less sun the poorer the flowering and the more scraggly the rose.

The first season should be devoted to obtaining as much foliage as possible without being concerned with the number or size of the flowers. The reason is, the more leaves, the quicker the establishment.

To obtain ample leaves make some liquid animal manure and give the roses a drink of this every 2-3 weeks diluted down 1:10. Chicken manure is best but any other manure will also do. If you are planing a rose in a new bed or in a new spot away from existing roses here is another little tip. Place half to a full spade of dirt, from an existing rose bed into the base of the planting hole. The soil will have the right beneficial fungi that works in conjunction with roses to assist their ability to feed and gather moisture. You have, taken away the delay period that would happen for the beneficial fungi and the new rose to establish a relationship. Planting in an existing rose bed already has the right fungi in action. (If you haven’t killed it with chemicals).

In the first season, two other points should be remembered. Roses need ample water to establish and the soil should never be allowed to dry out, but don’t overwater. Once established roses can handle a drought very well by going dormant. Secondly if cutting any flowers off a new rose do not take much or any of the stem that has leaves on it. Leaves means energy from the sun for faster and better establishment.

If you have any roses that you wish to move, wait till the soil moistens up with the winter rains then cut the canes back to half, then lift and move. Then you treat the moved rose as if it was a new rose you are just planting.

One last tip do not cut or prune your roses on a cool/cold, moist day as silver leaf disease can enter the wounds. Always wait for a sunny drier day.

One comment on “Roses in June

  1. josie cunningham on said:

    Thank you for the great article on looking after roses. I have planted four burgundy iceberg bush roses this season and have noticed the bushes have become very scraggly after the first flush of flowers. They now look a bit sad. Any ideas what could cause this??

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