A bit of fragrance
always clings to the hand
that gives the rose.
- Chinese proverb
Norm Patino, owner of Sunset Gardens Nursery located near OVF at Ocean Park and 16th St. in Santa Monica offered these tips.
Q: When is the best time to plant roses?
A: Mid-December is the time to select and plant roses. Buying a bare-root rose is most economical then, and the selection is often best. However, some gardeners prefer to wait until roses are blooming, paying a higher price to see the actual flowers. I recommend each year's annual, award-winning All American Roses.
Q: What factors should one consider when selecting a rose?
A: Fragrance, color, size, disease and insect resistance, and dependability.
Q: When is the best time to prune roses?
A: In the winter when the roses are not blooming. Cut back 25% of bush roses, but not the climbers. To prune, first remove dead and dying-back canes. Next, cut unwanted wood, like cross branching to the center. Then cut any canes growing from below the rootstock grafting. Last, shape it the way you want. Seal cuts against wasps with natural Rose Stick Pruning Wax from NuBark. White glue is water soluble, and not as effective as wax. Sunset and Ortho both publish informative books on rose care.
Q: What organic fertilizers can you recommend?
A: You need a balanced mixture of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. I like Bandini and Gro-More. Maria Wilkes, a discoverer of the Gerbera daisy in South Africa, used a 1/3 cotton seed, 1/3 blood meal and 1/3 bone meal combination which is very effective also.
Q: What advice can you offer gardeners at OVF to help contend with black spot, mildew, and rust?
A: Syringe the leaves off in the early morning before dew has dried. Clean leaves repel pollution particulates that build up, creating a breeding surface for disease and spores.
Q: What roses are most resistant to disease and insects?
A: There is no scientific evidence, but generally the darker red roses are stronger and genetically are more resistant. The pinks are next, then the yellow. Whites are the least resistant. Also, any roses growing five miles within the coast will have mildew.
Q: Are there varieties of roses that are your favorite and grow well in our coastal climate?
A: Yes, in order: Cecil Brunner (around a long time), pink and easy to put into a man's lapel. Henry Fonda, Double Delight, Mr. Lincoln, and Brandy.
Q: What is the secret to growing good roses?
A: Number one is to have a soil with a PH range of 5.8-6.8. Then modify the soil accordingly. If the soil is alkaline, acidify it with 1 tablespoon sulfur to 9 cubic feet per soil. If acidic, add lime. Sulfur is elemental and needs heat, and is a slow process, but gypsum is calcium/phosphorus and replaces the sodium and is immediate. It opens the soil up allowing the nutrients in. The best soil for roses is sandy/loamy because it drains well. Bad soil is clay since it doesn't drain. To amend clay soil, add peat moss and planter mix.
Planting Bare Root Roses
Nothing makes a New Year more pleasurable than the arrival of long-awaited, bare root roses. If you can't plant your roses imediately, they can be kept for up to 10 days submerged in a bucket of water. Then plant them with care, according to these instructions. Step 5 is unusual and most often misunderstood, thus not followed closely, but is of utmost importance to insure that your roses thrive during their first year of growth. Please follow the instructions carefully.
1. Select a planting site with 6 hours of full sun daily and good drainage. Roses hate having soggy feet. Prepare holes 15-18 inches wide and deep. Mix organic matter, peat moss, or compost into the soil up to 1/3 volume. Add 2 cups of blood meal and 1 cup of bone meal ammendments mixed well into the soil. Oxygen must penetrate the soil in order for roses to grow well. Form a cone-shaped mound of soil in the hole to accomodate the shape of the roots. Do not add any commercial fertilizer in the planting hole.
2. Remove the roses and prune the canes to 6-8 inches in length. Make pruning cuts just above dormant, outward-facing eyes if possible. Prune roots lightly, removing broken or extra-long roots. Place rose over cone shaped mound of soil in the hole and adjust height of the mound to position the rose at the proper planting depth. The graft union is the area where the canes originated and should be even with the soil surface. When the height is established, spread the roots out over the cone of soil and make sure none are twisted or crowded.
3. Begin refilling the hole with soil mixture. As the hole is filled, squish the soil around the roots to insure good soil-root contact.
4. When the hole is almost full of soil (2 inches from the top,) fill the hole with water and let it drain away. This will eliminate any air pockets. Adjust again for desired planting depth. Firm soil with your hands when satisfied with the depth.
5. Bare root roses are dormant when shipped and they must be protected from drying out until the roots become established. The greatest danger of drying, and thus dying, occurs during warm sunny weather, which occurs often in Southern California in January, especially during Santa Ana winds. Even if the weather is cool, one sunny warm day during the several weeks after planting can cause a great deal of damage to a newly planted rose bush. Therefore it is necessary to completely cover the exposed canes with bark dust, compost, peat moss or soil.
This covering will protect the canes from drying out while the roots are becoming established. In 2-3 weeks, sometimes longer, shoots will begin to emerge through the mounding material. It is then safe to carefully pull the material away from the base of the bush or wash away with a hose. Acclimatize your roses slowly, and they will bloom beautifully in 4-6 weeks. That is the time for the first fertilization.
Courtesy: Edmunds Roses.
Apply this soil conditioner (not a fertilizer) once a year in February. Mix and apply to bush 6-8 inches from crown and water in. If heavy rains follow, you'll need to re-apply.
For one bush:
To prepare in bulk use 5-gallon bucket:
Mix these together, then add...
Mix well and add...
Helps to control powdery mildew and rust. Mix thoroughly and spray leaves (top and bottom) and canes every 2 weeks. Take care as it will spot blossoms. Apply spray only on cool mornings (no warmer than 75 degrees), not at night. Roses like dry leaves at bedtime. Remove all infected leaves from plant and surrounding soil.
When these pests and problems occur, the world-famous Wrigley Rose Garden in Pasadena mixes: 1/4 cup of household bleach in 3 gallons of water and sprays it on their roses. BINGO! GONE!!