SPRING & EARLY
SUMMER ROSE GARDEN CARE (May-June)
| Fertilizing | Spraying | Mulching | Pruning | Preparing Cuttings | Watering | Weed Control |
Your first fertilizing was probably done around
April 15th and involved a general purpose fertilizer of Nitrogen(N), Phosphorus(P)
and Potash(K). Some gardeners use 10-10-10 for this purpose. Some supplement
with a product that will give additional nutrients like alfalfa pellets
or meal, cottonseed meal, urea, fish emulsion etc. They also add two tablespoons
of magnesium sulfate (Epson Salts) to encourage basal breaks, (new canes
from the crown) and to produce healthy green leaves.
Your spray program is probably already underway
and should be continued every seven to ten days throughout the growing
A mulch is a material placed in your rose beds
or around your roses for a variety of reasons, not the least of which
is to provide a neat, manicured look to your garden. There are other equally
important reasons for mulching. Some measure of weed control is provided,
moisture is retained better, a more even soil temperature is maintained
in summer and winter, soil crusting and erosion is prevented and mulching
eliminates the need for constant cultivation. Mulching also encourages
root growth, activates earthworms and bacteria in the soil and, if the
mulch is organic, renews and rebuilds the humus content of the soil.
| Although pruning is primarily
an early spring activity, a certain amount is required during the course
of the growing season.
In May one should check on the spring pruning to determine if there has been further die back and if so to remove such down to an outside bud or leaf growth. Similarly, some of the pruning decisions made in early spring may require correcting in May. There may be growth toward the center of the plant, for example, which can now be remedied by pruning at a somewhat lower level to an outside eye. Cane pith (center of cane) should be white or cream color, if it is tan or brown, the indication is that further dieback of the cane will occur and that the cane will die even though some green outer bark is supporting leaf growth. The stress of warmer weather will cause the dieback to continue down the entire cane.
Another good idea, according to Howard Walters, is to clean up the bud union by trimming off the old canes and stubs. A clean bud union exposed to the warmth of the sun will reward you with many more basal breaks, Howard reports, and eventually more bush and better roses. Paint each cut at the crown with the material you have selected for this purpose.
Of course, the first pruning as a result of spent blooms occurs during June in this area. This pruning, commonly referred to as "deadheading", should be done throughout the year to encourage further flowering. Normally we are not interested in the formation of hips at this time of year nor in encouraging dormancy. The method to use in deadheading Hybrid Teas is to remove the spent flower by cutting the it away from the plant at a point on the cane where five or seven leaflets are growing. The cut should be made 1/4 inch above the leaf axal of an outward growing bud and should slope downward toward the center of the plant.
Floribundas and Grandifloras are deadheaded much the same way, however removing the center bloom from Floribundas early produces a more uniform spray which is important for exhibiting. Some gardeners recommend removing spent blooms from Floribundas and Grandifloras as they complete their bloom cycle without disturbing the balance of the spray. Once all blooms have been removed these classes are pruned like a Hybrid Tea. Old Garden Roses also profit by deadheading, in that, recurrent bloom is encouraged in those varieties which are intermittent or repeat bloomers.
During the season you should be attentive also to unproductive growth which tends to crowd the middle of the plant and thus restricts sunlight and the flow of air. This growth should be removed along with any "blind shoots" which are twiggy stems of leaf clusters that do not terminate in a bloom bud. Care should always be taken not to disturb new growth from the crown or bud union of the plant which is most often a new basal break and thus the next cane to bear flowers. Basal breaks may also arise within five inches or so of the bud union. These shoots will grow very rapidly and are easily broken off by the wind. Protect them with a small stake and soft material like a piece of nylon hose. The loss of a basal break is an unhappy event for a rosarian. Further, on the point of basal breaks, some rosarians, including a commercial rose grower, Rayford Reddell, in his recent book, Growing Good Roses, recommends pruning basal breaks at a bud eye when the cane is twelve to fifteen inches tall to encourage a sturdy branched cane that will produce more and better blooms.
Plant growth from the understock rather than the crown should be removed whenever it is identified. To remove these, so called, "suckers" one need dig beneath the soil to the point where the sucker is growing and prune flush at the growing point. Paul Lord, former President of the MRS, was fond of saying, "tear the rascals out, or they will return." To prune suckers otherwise simply encourages their continued growth which can ultimately take over the entire plant. Suckers can be identified by the foliage which is usually smaller in leaf size and of a different shade of green than the foliage of the budded plant. Of course, you don't have to worry about suckers from miniatures since practically all of them--except tree roses--are propagated on their own roots as cuttings from the mother plant.
Often three buds appear on a cane, a center bud with two guard buds. Sometimes each will start growing. The grower, according to "Pop" Warner, should never let more than one bud produce a shoot at any given eye. The unwanted bud or buds are removed by "finger pruning" with a gloved thumb.
| Growing new rose plants
from cuttings is one of the many enjoyable facets of growing roses. Although
cuttings can be taken at anytime, following the first bloom is the best
time because of the amount of good weather remaining for the cutting to
There are many ways of preparing cuttings and once you have developed a successful technique, stick with it. The easiest and most convenient method for me consists of cutting the fading bloom of the variety I wish to propagate at a point on the stem which will provide four bud eyes and placing the cutting immediately in water.
The cutting is prepared by removing the bloom and the leaves from the lower two sets of leaflets. The end of the cutting, to be placed in growing material, is stripped on several places of bark and the stripped areas and end are coated with Rootone. The prepared cutting is then placed in a pot filled with a growing medium consisting of equal parts of soil, sand and peat moss. A pre-punched hole in the damp medium is used for the stem, and the medium is tamped firmly around the stem.
The variety of rose and date is recorded on a marker placed in the pot and the cutting is enclosed in a plastic bag supported by two bent pieces of inverted U-shaped wire. The plastic bag is air tight except for a small hole at the top which seems to prevent the cutting from damping off. The bag acts like a small greenhouse. The prepared cutting is then placed in a shady place to mature. Shortly after new leaves appear, the plastic bag is removed and the cutting is given a water soluble fertilizer such as Ra-Pid-Gro. Gradually the cutting is moved into full sun after which it can be planted in the garden where desired. The planting should follow the instruction for new container roses provided in the last issue of the MRS Newsletter.
Should this be the year you had planned to get started in hybridizing, in this area, June is the month. Crosses made after the end of June have a decreasing probability of producing mature seeds before the onset of cold weather. This subject can be treated in more depth should there be sufficient interest.
| Usually June is the month when
the gardener begins to be especially concerned about the amount of water
his roses are receiving. An especially dry spring should stimulate the same
concern. Growing roses have a significant need for water, at least
one inch per week. Any less stresses the plant and will result in poorer
growth and flower production. The purchase of a rain gauge and installing
it in a rose bed is a good investment. Most often we tend to overestimate
the amount of rainfall we get. A gauge will tell you how much rain fell
and whether more is required. There are types available that measure rainfall
and the amount of water provided by overhead watering from a sprinkler.
Some growers will advise that wet rose foliage is to be avoided and deliberately spraying roses with a sprinkler is foolhardy. Others will advise that roses enjoy and benefit from an occasional cleansing shower. A strong stream of water from a good water wand is certainly a good way to rid the roses of aphids or spider mites.
Following rain or overhead watering, it is a good idea to re-spray because blackspot, for example, requires moisture to infect our plants. In fact, the splashing of soil containing the spores of blackspot is the start of plant infestation if unattended to.
As mentioned under Mulching, a two to
four inch layer of mulch will do much to reduce the weeds in your rose
garden. However mulching does not eliminate weeds entirely. There are
a number of products designed to prevent the germination of seeds that
would otherwise result in weeds. One of these is Preen which can be used
in rose beds. The granules are used at the time of the first fertilizing
and are scratched into the soil around the plants. It is best to remove
the mulch if it has already been applied and to scratch Preen directly
into the soil. This product does a reasonably good job in spring and early
summer; however, the material does not last throughout the year. In my
experience, late weeds appeared as usual in my beds and hand weeding had
to be resorted to. Another product which I intend to try this year on
a limited basis is Scotts'Flower and Garden Weed Preventer.
|(Adapted from the May-June, 1990 MRS Newsletter)
updated April 30, 2003