Easy Rose Care

by Don Trotter


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Hello fellow Earthlings, and welcome to our final discussion on rose care for the early spring, late winter. We will, of course, be revisiting the rose garden throughout the year. In this discussion we are going to touch on a few of the easy things we can do to ensure that our roses are the envy of the entire neighborhood and guarantee lots of happy flowers for cutting and displaying in the house. So let's take a walk out to the garden and continue our discussion.

We have covered pruning, feeding, pest and disease control, and soil improvement in our earlier four discussions. This time we're going to talk about some of the simple things we can do in our rose gardens to keep them happy and healthy during the growing season and all the way until next fall. Some of the practices are very simple and some are even easier than that.

First, and very importantly, never underestimate the value of a sharp jet of water when caring for your roses. From pest control to keeping their breathing pores clean, a sharp stream of water from the hose can really keep you in control of the many problems encountered by rose gardeners. Giving your roses a shower in the morning once a week or so can assist in knocking off aphids and other pest insects as well keeping them from getting a foothold on your precious plants. A morning shower can also wash away the dust and icky stuff that collects on plants from living in our not so clean air. You wouldn't believe how much crud can collect on a plant. A shower in the morning once a week can remove the detritus and allows the breathing pores (stomata) of your roses to breathe easier. Think of the weekly showers as decongestant therapy. If you're feeling like using a plant cleaning helper try Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap (peppermint) mixed into your sprayer at 5 tablespoons per gallon of water or try a material called Jungle Rain that is also a fairly good plant cleaner. Jungle Rain can be found at lots of online garden sites specializing in natural materials.

Next, never underestimate the power of kelp. Kelp extracts (liquid concentrates) and fossilized mineral kelp (Kelzyme) has the capacity to provide your roses and the rest of your garden with much needed minerals. Kelp products also provide an abundant supply of very powerful growth stimulating enzymes and hormones. Applying mineral kelp materials to your soil or liquid kelp products directly to plant surfaces is a fantastic way to provide your roses with a natural supply of much needed trace minerals. Kelp also strengthens cell wall rigidity with makes your roses less apt to suffer from problems associated with drought. The cells don't give up water as freely and so the plants are less likely to suffer from the problems associated with water stress during the hot weather of summer. Isn't it nice to speak of hot weather when it is cold outside? Kelp also helps to keep the microorganisms in your soil happy and healthy which improves the quality of garden soils.

Yup, you knew it was coming, mulch! Lots and lots of organic matter does wonders for the rose garden and the rest of the garden as well. Keeping organic matter levels up will improve your soil, allow you to use less water in the garden, reduce or eliminate nutrient loss from runoff water, and keep diseases in check. So add lots of mulch to your rose garden. You'll be happy you did and your roses will be jazzed all season long.

The last thing on our list of helpful materials is Neem seed oil. Neem oil is a very helpful natural material for rose gardeners. This botanical pesticide is derived from the seed of the neem tree of India and is a very powerful pest feeding suppressant and it also has some mild fungicidal properties. Neem is also a pest insect repellent that can keep the bad guys away from your roses for up to two weeks after application to your plants. Neem is widely available at most garden centers these days. Rose Defense is the most widely sold Neem product, but it can be found under other trade names as well. It smells like hazelnuts to us but bad guys really hate it.

This closes our five-part discussion on rose gardening. Next time we will be discussing spring vegetable gardening. This will be a three-part piece starting with soil and garden preparation. If you missed any part of the rose series, please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to send it to you. I'll see you in the Garden!


Got questions? Email the Doc at Curly@mill.net Don Trotter's natural gardening columns appear nationally in environmentally sensitive publications. For more tips check out Don's books Natural Gardening A-Z and The Complete Natural Gardener available at your local bookstore or at all on line booksellers. Coming in March Don's new book Rose Gardening A-Z will be out. All are from Hay House Publishing www.hayhouse.com

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