...Caring for Roses in Richmond
Pick a sunny
To remain healthy, roses require a location with a minimum of
six hours of sunlight each day. If you have to pick a spot that is shaded for
part of the day, select one that protects your plants from the hot afternoon sun.
Roses grown with less than six hours of sun will produce fewer blooms and are
more susceptible to diseases.
Dig a big hole
The hole you dig today will be home to your new rose bush for the next twenty years. Be sure
to dig a hole at least six inches beyond the edges of the roots of the rose you are planting in all directions.
You will be rewarded with many more blooms for the extra time it
takes to dig a proper hole.
Amend the soil
In the Richmond area, most soils
are heavy clay. Before you put the soil back in the hole, you will want to mix
it with 50-percent organic matter to break up the clay and make it easier for
the roots to penetrate the soil. You can mix in decayed leaves, compost, grass
clippings, peat moss or clay cutter. Use whatever you have available and is most
Until your new rose grows a full
root system, it needs a lot of water to survive. For the first two weeks, water
regularly so that the soil remains moist. Don’t feed your roses until they have
been in the ground at least six weeks—early feeding can damage tender new roots.
Roses also need lots of water during the summertime. A couple of
inches a week is a good guideline. Watering with a soaker hose or
drip line is preferred because moisture does not contact the leaves.
Over the top watering soaks the leaves leaving them susceptible
to fungus attack and washing off rose spray. Over the top watering
should be avoided if other options are available.
Soil is an ecosystem consisting of living organisms as well as inorganic matter. The rose is the beneficiary of its production.
1. Think of feeding the soil, not just fertilizing the plant.
Feeding the bacteria in the soil that breaks down fertilizer into a form
that your roses can consume is important. Be sure to give
your roses a dose of organics early in the season to spur bacterial
life in the soil. Composted manure or an commercial organic formula
like Mills Magic or RoseTone are good ways to do this.
2. Supply micronutrients. 10-10-10 fertilizer is a good start, but your roses may lack some important micronutrients, such as iron, magnesium, and calcium. Ironite makes an inexpensive fertilizer that supplies iron and needed micronutrients. RoseTone, mentioned above also contains micronutrients.
3. Feed often. Roses are heavy feeders. It takes a lot of energy
to make all those rose petals. Roses should be fed every 4-6 weeks
with organic compost that will loosen the soil. Start fertilizing
your roses when you have done your first pruning of the year.
The following fertilization program has been used successfully by exhibitors in the past. It is a traditional regimen and has not been endorsed by any extension service, botanist, or other scientific expert.
Fertilize to win Queen of the Show!
March (at the time of pruning)
1 tablespoon of fish emulsion / gallon of water, put one gallon of mis on each bush.
36-6-0 granular fertilizer (Urea) : 1/4 cup per bush
50 lbs. 10-10-10 with trace elements (Iron, Calcium, Boron, . . .)
50 lbs. Alfalfa meal
50 lbs. Fish meal (can be difficult to find)
20 lbs. Cotton seed meal
20 lbs. Blood meal
25 lbs. Bone meal
10 lbs. Triple Superphosphate
40 lbs. Dehydrated Cow Manure
Apply 2 heaping cups of mixture per bush.
Epsom Salts: 2 handfuls per bush
Fish emulsion: 3 Tablespoons per gallon; one gallon per bush
Peters 20-20-20: 1 Tablespoon per gallon, one gallon per bush
10-10-10: 3/4 cup/bush
Alfalfa meal: 3/4 cup/bush
Organic fertilizer (e.g. Fertrell or Mills Magic): 1 cup per bush
Milorganite: 1/2 cup per bush
10-10-10: 3/4 cup per bush
Same as April
For miniatures, decrease amounts by one half.
A layer of mulch is the best weed prevention.
It smothers most weeds and makes the others easier to pull by keeping moisture in the soil.
There are many materials that can be used for mulch, as described in this article from the Virginia Cooperative Extension. For roses, a few inches is all you need.
Use Rose Care products to prevent disease:
Blackspot is the most common plant disease affecting roses. Starting
mid-spring, quarter-inch black spots appear on the leaves. Within days, all the
leaves yellow and drop from the plant. If you have only a few rose bushes, a product
such as Ortho Rose Pride Orthenex will fight both black spot and common insect
pests. If you are growing dozens of roses, you may want to alternate every other
week with Ortho Funginex and Bonide Mancozeb or Novartis Banner Max to prevent
the blackspot fungus developing immunity to the spray.
Thrips are elongated insects about the size of the period at the end of this sentence.
In the spring, thrips enter rose blooms just as they are opening. Thrip infestation
can prevent your rose buds from opening fully and cause them to rot on the plant.
These appear during dry spells
and can be seen as light colored specks moving on the underside of leaves. On
particularly heavy infestations, webs are visible as leaves are leached gray. Spraying
with water under the leaves during dry periods discourages spider mites. Spider Mites are often
fatal to a rose if not treated during a long dry spell in hot weather.
These appear sometime in late June and can last into early August. At the adult stage,
there is little to do but pick them off and place them in a container of soapy water. Any insecticide used
on them at this stage will be very harmful to bees, which will also be visiting the flowers. The larvae
grow under lawn turf, which may be treated in early spring or late summer with either milky spore or an insecticide, but not both.
Please see the following article for more information on Japanese Beetles.
Japanese Beetle: VA Cooperative Extension
Rose Rosette Disease
Rose Rosette Disease will kill your rose if left untreated, and many growers prefer to destroy the
infected plant rather than giving the disease a chance to spread. If the disease is only at the top
of one cane, some growers will remove that cane and have had success with the disease not appearing in other parts of the plant.
This is the only known treatment, as there are no chmicals effective against the disease.
The disease is spread by a wingless mite that is blown by the wind from plant to plant. The following article
from the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service is very informative about this disease:
pesticides and fungicides are toxic to some degree and should be applied strictly
according to the manufacturer’s instructions and precautions listed on the bottle.
Start your spray
program with your first pruning of the year.
Use a contact
These are compounds that kill the black spot fungus
as well as its spores on contact. Manzate and Mancozeb are two
of the more popular contact fungicides.
Use a systemic
These are compounds that prevent the germinating
black spot spore from taking hold on the leaf. While systemics
do not kill the spores, they do stop the fungus dead in its tracks
by interfering with its metabolism. The fungus can’t digest its
food and soon dies. Popular systemic fungicides include Banner
Max and Compass. Mixing a contact and systemic fungicide in the
same sprayer works well. By killing off spores and preventing
the growth of any existing fungus, black spot is quickly eradicated.
Although using both a systemic and a contact fungicide is the
key to controlling black spot, don’t make the mistake of using
the same systemic and contact fungicide each time you spray. Just
as bacteria have become increasingly immune to antibiotics, the
black spot fungus is becoming resistant to some of the compounds
used to control it. To ensure that an immunity does not develop
in your garden, switch off the fungicides you use each week. Here
is a list of some of the more common systemic and contact fungicides
that control black spot.
All rose care products can be harmful if misused. Be sure to read
the label and follow instructions carefully.
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