EARLY SPRING ROSE GARDEN CARE (March
Albert Ford, Editor, MRS Newsletter
Plants| Planting | Pruning | Spraying | Fertilizing |
| ORDERING or PURCHASING
A number of rosarians in this area order new roses
to arrive in the latter part of the year (November-Early December). Hortico
in Canada, for example, ships roses to the States after the second frost
in Canada which usually results in delivery for Maryland in late November.
The theory behind late fall planting is that some root growth will occur
before hard winter sets in and, therefore, the new roses will have a jump
on those planted the next spring.
Most rosarians, however, wait until
spring because they buy from current (same year) catalogs or from available
plants at their garden center. Garden centers purchase their roses the
year before they are placed on sale. Such roses are usually boxed or containerized
although bare rooted roses can be obtained locally. "Boxed"
roses-- like those sold under the Jackson & Perkins name--are available
in March and come in a tight box filled with their own soil mixture. A
wax spray or dip has been applied to the canes protruding from the top
of the carton or box for protection and moisture retention purposes.
Containerized roses are received by the
garden center as bare rooted and are placed in plastic containers filled
with peat moss, vermiculite or perlite and garden soil. This is done in
early March so that they will be ready for the market when we feel that
urge in early spring to get out of doors and do some gardening. Containerized
roses usually are somewhat more expensive than the boxed roses because
of the extra labor required for the garden center.
If you order from a catalog, be prepared
to receive your plants bare rooted in a plastic bag with minimal material
to keep the rose plant/s moist. If you have never purchased bare rooted
roses, there is nothing to fear because handling and planting is not difficult.
(See Planting below) By ordering bare
rooted plants your selection is infinitely better and the price will be
significantly less than you would pay for garden center varieties of like
Should you order from a catalog, get your
order in early to be assured of receiving the variety you wish. Late orders
are sometimes substituted for--especially if you do not specify on your
order, "No Substitutions." Another reason for early ordering
is that the quality probably will be better.
If you purchase from a garden center such
Frank's, or Valley
View, plan to get there early (Mid-March) when the selection is best.
Pick a plant with at least four substantial canes with evidence of viable
bud-eyes where this years' growth will start. There may be some leafing
out, depending on weather conditions and when you purchase your rose/s.
You are looking for a rose graded #1.
The grading for roses is not evident on
the name tag or container; therefore, you should know the acceptable standards
for the various grades.
- Grade #1: This is the top grade. The plant will have three or more
healthy canes each about 3/8-inch thick projecting from the bud union
(knob at base of the plant). These are the best specimens and will generally
grow faster and produce more blooms the first year.
- Grade #1 1/2: The plant will have two or more canes which are less
than 3/8-inch thick. They take longer to develop and require more attention.
- Grade #2: The plants are underdeveloped with only one or two thin
canes. They would be recommended only for landscape effect where many
plants are used.
source I have found in this area is
Gardens in Westminster. Their
variety exceeds most, if not all,
nurseries and garden centers in this
area. Roses are available bare rooted
(Early March) or containerized (May,
on). Call them for a catalog or make
inquiries as to a special rose you
have been seeking. They carry modern
and some heritage roses and have a
very fine selection of climbing roses.
They will also order a special rose
for you if you contact them before
their order is placed in August. Carroll
Gardens handles roses from a number
of nurseries although they specialize
in Weeks Roses. They are located at
444 East Main Street in Westminster,
MD, and can be reached on (301) 848-5422
or from the Baltimore area on 876-7336.
Heritage roses can be obtained from
The Heritage Rosarium, 211 Haviland
Road, Brookeville, MD, 20833, (301)
774 2806, Nick Weber.
a word on where to find a rose you
have thought about for a long time
and cannot find in any of the catalogs
that come your way. The very best
source of information on where to
find a specific rose is Bev
Dobson's Combined Rose List which
lists alphabetically about 7,000 roses
in commerce and the nurseries where
each can be found, together with addresses
and phone numbers. Peter Harkness,
in his newest book (1988), Modern
Garden Roses, refers to Bev's
annual publication as "A valuable
service to the world of roses..."
you have need of a source for one
or two roses only, contact Al Ford
and he will look them up for you.
the ground is not ready for planting
when your bare root roses arrive or
you bring them home from the nursery,
you should heal the plants in, meaning
you should dig a trench into which
plants are placed and then covered
with soil until your bed or hole is
prepared and the weather conducive
to a good start. Containerized roses
may be kept in a garage or some other
sheltered area until they are planted.
In either case, bare root or containerized
roses, the soil should be kept moist.
| PLANTING YOUR NEW ROSE/S
For spring planting of roses it is best to have
prepared the bed or hole last fall so that the soil has had time to compact,
thus removing air spaces, and little time is lost in getting the new plant
off to a good start. It is recognized, however, that many of us bring
home plants not knowing precisely where we will use them and as a consequence
must first prepare the location and then plant the newcomer.
There are a variety of commonly accepted
methods of planting a rose which differ only slightly in detail. The method
shown at the top of Page 5, is reproduced from the AARS
publication, "Discover The Pleasure of Roses."
Recently, in this area, some people have
begun to think that the traditional method of planting encourages root
growth downward when the natural tendency for root growth is generally
outward, closer to the ground surface. The January, 1990, issue of the
Potomac Rose Society
Newsletter carries an article on the point as well as an earlier article
in the August, 1989, Colonial Courier. The limited experimentations suggests
that placing the roots of bare rooted plants more horizontally, nearer
the ground surface, rather than encouraging them downward around the center-mound,
results in more vigorous plant growth and bloom production. I have thought,
primarily because of the way roses are planted in England, that we put
too much emphasis on depth of planting, knowing all the while that feeder
roots are found near the surface. It is interest to note the following
from the handbook, How
To Grow Roses,
"The size of the hole depends on the size of the roots and after
inspecting the plant...one soon gets to know roughly how much to dig.
Most dig too deep a hole, thinking the roots must go straight down.
This is wrong. The pliable roots are much better sitting horizontally
at the bottom of the hole. Therefore most roses need a hole only about
7 inches (18cm) deep." (How To Grow Roses, A Handbook of the Royal
National Rose Society, 1980, prepared by Jack Harkness.)
Two comments: first, such a statement presupposes that the rose is being
planted in a prepared bed and that below "7 inches" there is
something more favorable than solid clay. Second, for what it's worth,
I recommend and practice planting roses as their bare root structure would
suggest without forcing them out nor down in an unnatural and strained
If the rose holes have not been prepared,
start the process by removing the soil from an 18" X 18" hole.
If your subsoil is clay, as in most parts of this area, I would recommend
screening it through a 1/4 X 1/4-inch mesh screen to remove stones and
clumps. The screened clay should be mixed with gypsum which lightens it
and keeps the clay particles separate and workable.
To the clay, which will represent 1/3 of
the material to be returned to the hole, add an equal amount by volume
of compost, peat moss, well-rotted manure or other organic material and
an equal amount of a good grade of top soil. The resulting mixture is
then 1/3 each of clay particles, organic material, and good top soil.
The parts should be mixed together well in a wheelbarrow or other suitable
container. To this mixture I add three 1 pound coffee cans of perlite,
which aids in keeping the mixture loose and also aids in water retention.
I then add a generous cup of superphosphate (0-44-0 or equivalent). The
perlite and superphosphate are mixed thoroughly throughout the other material.
This mixture is placed into the hole
and watered well. Since there is extra material, simply mound over the
hole as there will be considerable settling. It would be best to wait
3 to 4 weeks before planting; however, should you not have that much time,
planting can proceed provided special care is taken to remove air spaces
when the rose is planted. Roots growing into air spaces will dry out and
die, affecting the growth of the entire plant.
Should you be replacing a plant which is
to be discarded because of poor performance or being moved to another
location, the question arises as to whether the previous used soil should
be removed from the hole or not. There are two schools of thought, one
suggesting it is not necessary if the previous plant has done well; the
other suggests that the soil should be replaced to be used somewhere else
in the garden but not for roses. I agree with the latter approach and
was interested in a comment Peter Harkness made on the subject: "One
last word on soil has to do with ground that has grown roses for several
years. If you remove them and plant new roses, the newcomers often will
not thrive. Why this should be so is something of a mystery. The solution
is to change the soil, or plant somewhere else or clear the bed and grow
another type of plant before trying roses there again. I have read that
plants of the marigold family are useful cleansers of `rose sick' soil."
(Peter Harkness: Modern
Garden Roses, 1988, The Globe Pequot Press, Chester, Connecticut.)
This subject has been covered a number of times
in the MRS Newsletter. The references are: Spring Pruning Hints,(Mar-Apr,1989,p.2);
Pruning Floribundas, Grandifloras and Hybrid Teas, (Jan-Fed,1988,p.7);
Pruning Miniatures, (Jan-Feb,1988,p.9); Pruning Rosebushes (Climbers,
Ramblers, Shrub Roses and Old Garden Roses) (Jan-Feb, 1988,p.6); Pruning
Rose Bushes (Fall/Winter),(Nov-Dec,1987,p.4).
For our newer members, I will review some
of the points made before and will add a few comments which may be of
interest. From the outset, it should be recognized that correct pruning
in your garden is a subject learned over time and should vary by your
intended accomplishments i.e. garden display, cut flowers for home or
gifts, or exhibition. Pruning should vary also by the classification of
rose being pruned and sometimes by the variety of rose within a classification.
Too many manuals and instructions on pruning
provide only cursory treatment to correct pruning. Therefore, beginners
will want to learn the fundamentals and then refine their techniques by
observation of results of their own pruning and further investigation
in the literature.
This past fall or early winter you should
have done some pruning as a part of your winter protection program. Such
pruning is minimal and consists of reducing the length of the canes to
about three feet simply to keep them from whipping around in the fall
and winter winds, thus loosening the soil around the crown and exposing
it to the drying winds which is the primary reason for the loss of rose
bushes over the winter. This type of pruning will be covered in more detail
in our Sept-Oct, 1990, Newsletter.
Spring pruning, which for this area, should
be done at approximately the time the forsythia blooms, (late March and
early April) is the most severe pruning done during the year. The why
of Spring pruning is explained in terms of removing dead, diseased or
damaged growth and any immature growth which would interfere or impede
current years' more productive growth in terms of plant vigor and flower
Unlike a tree, a rose bush does not grow
by producing shoots which increase in size every year, but rather, a rose
cane grows and produces flowers for only a few years, after which the
upper portion becomes exhausted. New canes appear from the bud union or
crown of budded plants and grows upward and becomes the source of new
flowers. The old canes if not attended to will die back to the bud union.
A rose bush left unpruned becomes a tangled and shapeless mass of live
and dead wood resulting in a less vigorous plant with poorer quality blooms.
The purpose of pruning, then, is to get rid of dead and old wood each
year to encourage the development of strong and healthy canes.
There are three general types or pruning
of rose bushes, Hard, Moderate and Light. These are illustrated in the
diagram on Page 7. Bear in mind that there are special recommendations
for climbers, ramblers and old garden roses.
- Hard Pruning: The canes are cut
back to about 5 inches leaving 2
or 3 buds each on the pruned canes.
This type of pruning is recommended
for newly planted bushes because
the primary concern is to create
good root growth.
It is also recommended for those plants
grown primarily for the production of exhibition blooms, although there
is evidence that this point is overemphasized. This method of pruning
is also encouraged for very weak growing Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras
and as an aid in rejuvenating neglected roses. Sometimes the results
of pruning after a severe winter will require hard pruning to locate
healthy growth. This method should not be used on Floribundas.
- Moderate Pruning: The canes are cut back to about half their length.
Weaker canes should be cut back further. This method is recommended
for nearly all established Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras and Floribundas,
but some old canes may require hard pruning, in fact, it is desirable
for some canes of Floribundas to be hard pruned to encourage a longer
period of continuous bloom. This is the best method for garden display
of Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras.
- Light Pruning: Canes are cut back to two-thirds of their length (1/3rd
pruned). This means that after removal of dead wood, the remaining canes
are only lightly trimmed. This method is not normally recommended because
it produces tall spindly bushes which bear flowers early but of poorer
quality. It is recommended for very vigorous Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras,
i.e. `Peace" and `Queen Elizabeth".
The aim of pruning is to obtain an urn-shaped,
open-centered bush. The steps involved are as follows:
- Be certain before you begin that
your pruning tools are all clean
and sharp. This is best accomplished
when you put them away in the winter.
- Cut out completely (to the crown)
all dead canes and remove parts
which are diseased, damaged or have
- Cut out all soft or frozen wood.
Make a trial cut and examine the
pith, the soft substance in the
center of canes and stems. The pith
may be brown, gray or blackish in
color instead of a healthy white.
If the pith is not white, cut down
lower until it is reached. Some
growers will accept a light brown
color in the pith with the expectation
that subsequent growth will strengthen
- Cut out all very thin stems and
laterals growing into the center
of the bush. Remove those branches
which rub against another. Sometimes
canes or branches growing too close
together can be encouraged to separate
by placing a wedge of a cut cane
- Select the canes to be preserved
and decide which of the three methods
you intend to use on the particular
bush. Each cut you make should start
1/4 inch above a bud which points
outward, away from the center of
the plant. The cut should be at
a 45° angle sloping downward.(A
diagram of the proper method appeared
on Page 8 of the Jan-Feb, 1988 Newsletter.)
The number of canes selected is
usually 3 to 6; however, more may
be left if the plant can support
them, which is best determined by
last years' growth and performance.
- Examine the bush for suckers
(growth from below the crown on
budded roses) and remove by wrenching
out at the base. It will be necessary
to remove some soil to accomplish
- Seal the cuts with shellac, Elmer's
Glue or a mixture of Bordeaux compound
and linseed oil, The yellow, Elmer's
Carpenter's Wood Glue is less pervious
to water than the white and is therefore
- Clean up all pruned material,
including leaves, from around the
plant and discard. Any material
left encourages disease and rose
Guidelines for other types of roses are presented here.
- RAMBLERS: Newly planted ramblers should be cut back to 2-3 feet if
this has not been done by the nursery. No further pruning is desired
until autumn at which time some canes are removed at ground level and
lateral branches are reduced to 3 inches.
- CLIMBERS: Do not prune newly planted climbers except to remove dead
tips. If the climber is a Hybrid Tea or Floribunda sport, pruning of
newly planted specimens may result in their reverting to bush form.
Established climbers require very little pruning except to remove dead
wood. Withered parts should be removed in the spring and lateral branches
reduced to about 3 inches.
- MINIATURES: The recommendations for miniatures also apply to Polyanthas
and Shrub Roses. No pruning is required at time of planting in the spring.
Established plants require very little pruning except to remove dead
wood and trim the plant to shape. Some exhibitors of Miniatures prune
them much as they would a Hybrid Tea. This is a meticulous process and
not generally recommended.
- OLD GARDEN ROSES: Reference here is to the Albas, Damasks, Centifolias,
Musks, Chinas, Rugosas etc. In the spring the only pruning recommended
is to remove the dead wood not cleared out in the fall or that which
has occurred since last year. Pruning of the Heritage or Old Garden
Roses should occur after the flowering is over for the one-bloom per
year types and as the plant nears dormancy. This subject was covered
in more detail in the Sept-Oct, 1990 issue of the Newsletter.
|| There are two primary reasons
for spraying in this area: to control blackspot and powdery mildew and to
control injurious insects. Diplocarpon rosae (blackspot) overwinters in
your rose bed in infected canes, buds and fallen leaves and waits for the
proper conditions to again ravish your roses, usually first evident on lower
leaves as a result of water splashing. Although spraying for black-spot
is more important during warmer weather and during the summer, it is a good
idea to begin spraying when new growth has begun. I would recommend Ortho
Funginex sprayed in accordance with label instructions once every 7 to 10
days. Funginex controls blackspot, mildew and rust, although mildew does
not appear in my garden until later, and rust, not at all. More will be
said about spraying in our next issue.
The onset of the insect problem does not
occur in earnest in this area until May and June; however, you may see Aphids,
the small green, brown or reddish sap-sucking insects on the first buds
and stems. Aphids are easily controlled with a strong stream of water or
a spray made with a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to a gallon of water. More
devastating conflagrations may require treatment with a chemical like Ortho's
It is important that newly planted roses not
be fertilized with a general all-purpose fertilizer, like 10-10-10, at
the time of planting. Soluble fertilizers next to roots will burn them
and will defeat the early production of a good feeder root system. I do
mix a cup of superphosphate with the soil mixture to be used in planting
and I'm aware that some growers will put a handful of bonemeal in the
bottom of the hole and others use a variety of chemicals. Until the grower
has had more experience, I would suggest planting without adding fertilizer
and, in this area, delaying the first fertilizing until approximately
April 15, when new growth is apparent.
Established bushes should be fertilized
approximately April 15, with a fertilizer balanced for Nitrogen (N), Phosphates
(P2O5) and Potash (K2O). Nitrogen stimulates the growth of leaves and
canes and increases the size of the bush. Phosphate stimulates the growth
of roots, canes and stems and speeds up flowering. Potash stimulates the
production of top quality blooms and improves the drought and disease
resistance of the plant. A good balanced fertilizer with these elements
is 10-10-10. Another popular spring fertilizer is Osmocote which is a
controlled release fertilizer that releases nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
depending on soil temperature. The 18-6-12 (8 to 9 month term) formulation
is recommended for this area. Osmocote is also available with trace elements
added in a product with the name of Sierra 17-6-10 Plus Minors Controlled
Release Fertilizer. If you wish to know more about this product, send
a SASE to Al Ford.
|(Adapted from the March-April, 1990 MRS Newsletter)
April 30, 2003