Roses are in a fine display at this time. They received just enough rain earlier in this season to develop nicely. The rose featured in today’s column is a long-time favorite, ‘Iceberg’, bred in the 1950s by Kordes in Germany. This rose produces large clusters of double-white flowers and has earned many awards, including the World’s Favorite Rose (1983).
We continue our exploration of three categories of gardening activities that are suitable under social distance constraints and rewarding to the gardener.
1. Care for Your Garden
During short trips in the community, I’ve observed many healthy roses in bloom. Given the season’s pleasing growth of roses, today’s garden care notes have a timely focus on roses.
Roses need routine attention every year, but gardeners seeking worthy tasks while social distancing should consider fostering the growth and productivity of their roses.
During their spring growth, roses benefit from fertilization. Garden centers offer organic rose food mixes that are preferred over chemical fertilizers that can accumulate salts in the soil. About a week after an initial spring feeding, following package directions, some gardeners follow up by giving each rose a handful of Epson salts and a handful of Kelp meal. Your roses will thank you!
Regular irrigation is also important during this growth period. Roses grow best with two or three gallons of water for each plant. Whether you use drip or hose irrigation, provide adequate water each week.
Regular rejuvenation pruning of roses (weekly, perhaps) supports the gardener’s contemplation and encourages the roses’ productivity. This is a low-energy, low-stress activity (some call the rather grim term, “deadheading”) that improves the look of your rose plants and promotes new blossoms. It also provides opportunities to refine the overall shape of the rose bush. The basic practice is to remove old blooms to just above the first five-leaf or seven-leaf junction. With some plants, the first bloom to fade is between two buds; in those cases, prune the faded bloom and let the buds develop.
At this time of the year, you should also protect your roses from the Western Rose Curculio (Merhynchites wickhami). These pests are red and black, hard-bodied, snout beetles (weevils) about 1/4 inch long. They emerge from the soil in the spring and lay eggs in rose buds, preferring white and yellow roses. The eggs hatch and the larvae chew small holes in the buds. They are very damaging to beautiful roses! The pests eventually fall and bury into the ground, to emerge in the following spring.
Recommended management is to examine roses regularly for signs of the pest, and removal and proper disposal of the affected buds and blossoms. This can be done in the course of rejuvenation pruning.
Another approach is to hold a wide-mouth container of soapy water below where pest damage can be seen and shake the plant to drop the pests into the water, where they will expire. They are not tough customers.
2. Advance Your Gardening Knowledge
Gardeners who want or need more detailed advice for seasonal care of their roses should draw upon the Internet’s resources. A Google search for fertilizing, irrigating, rejuvenation pruning (or deadheading) roses will yield helpful recommendations. A search for Rose Curculio also will provide additional details about the life cycle of this pest, and methods of control. Toxic sprays are not needed; direct action is easy, safe and effective.
3. Enrich Your Gardening Days
The Internet also offers many enrichment opportunities for gardeners to explore. One category of these opportunities is comprised of blogs by garden designers. Deborah Silver is an award-winning designer in Detroit who is particularly generous in sharing her ideas, opinions, and examples through the Internet. Visit “Dirt Simple” to draw upon her design installation and garden accessory experiences. She describes very upscale projects, so she’s not about planting petunias, but there’s a lot on her blog site to see and appreciate, and a flow of ideas that any gardener could adapt. Enjoy your gardens and gardening and stay healthy.