Caring For Your Roses

I work at Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, N.H., and I learned more about grafting techniques during my time there. I heard about these techniques, but up until now, I have not had a chance to use them.

The world of plants is amazing. Plants are a part of the beautiful and wonderful world God created for us. Just like people and animals, the plants are alive. They are made up of cells, grow and die. They need energy, nutrients, air and water. The most interesting thing is that they react to everything that’s happening to them and happening around them.

In my studies, I resolved to focus on roses because these flowers are regarded as the oldest plants cultivated by man. The Chinese stumbled on them over five thousand years ago. Out of twenty thousand known species of roses, botanists have identified and classified 200 wild species of roses.

Caring for roses requires tenacious maintenance and consistent attention to detail. They take lots of nutrients from the soil, such as nitrogen (promotes healthy green growth), phosphorous (vital to strong root growth and flower production) and potassium (necessary for vigorous growth). On top of that, many nutrients leach from the soil very quickly, so the trick is to feed roses often and lightly. They also need macronutrients like sulphur, calcium, magnesium and seven micronutrients: iron, manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, chloride and boron.

A very important aspect to growing healthy, disease-resistant roses is watering them well. The goal is to ensure that the rose leaves are dry by dusk. For example, we can water them in the morning or water the soil around the plants using a drip irrigation system. Grooming, namely removing faded flowers after each flush of blooms, improves plant appearance and prevents fruit development. Flower buds should be removed for the first two months after planting to encourage growth and to help establish a new plant. The first flowers allowed to develop should be cut with short stems to leave as much foliage as possible on the new plant.

Another aspect of rose care is treating disease problems. Any rose can be affected with powdery mildew or black spot fungus diseases, and the trick is to kill them before they grow. To maximize rose care, prune properly to promote blooming. Pruning roses controls the size and shape of the plants. Generous pruning creates bigger plants and eventually more flowers per plant. Selective pruning of top growth can produce bigger, but fewer, blooms. If you know the pruning principles, this is easy. Consider these tips:

  1. For modern varieties, pruning keeps them blooming repeatedly all summer long.
  2. Well-established hybrid teas, floribundas and grandifloras should be pruned early each spring after the winter protection has been removed and just as the buds begin to swell.
  3. Old-fashioned roses and climbers that bloom only once a year should be pruned immediately after flowering since they bloom on wood from the previous year’s growth.

Likewise, rose transplanting has its own set of tips and tricks:

  1. Water the plant well during the two to three days before the transplant.
  2. Dig a new planting hole for the shrubs.
  3. Add approximately a 3-inch layer of organic mulch. The mulch will help keep the moisture down by root system, moderate soil temperature and control weeds that compete for moisture.
  4. Carefully dig as much of the roots and soil as possible from the shrubs you wish to transplant.
  5. Carefully wrap the root ball in wet burlap. Burlap is a coarse fabric often seen in the form of a woven cloth (usually beige in color). It is created from jute, hemp or flax fibers.
  6. Before planting in the new location, soak the root ball in a solution of liquid kelp and Superthrive diluted in water. Superthrive is a great tool that helps give our shrubs an extra push for survival. Make sure you follow the package directions.
  7. Plant the shrubs in the new location and gently water.

And remember these watering tips:

  1. After the shrubs have been planted, they will need to be watered well and carefully.
  2. For the first few weeks, water daily. Then limit the watering to three times a week for another month, and then weekly.

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