Springtime TO-DO List: Roses
It is time to give your roses some tender loving care for the new growing season. For those of you that have one or more rose bush plants we are providing you with a few reminders on how to take care of the plants so that you will have a bloom filled plant and for those of you that purchase a rose bush this year you will know the effort it takes to give the plant a healthy start.
Pruning: When & How
Late February and through March is an ideal time to prune your rose bushes and we are only talking about rose bushes so don’t go out and trim your azaleas and wonder why there are no flowers because you cut all of the buds off of the plant. Make sure that your clippers or pruning shears are sharp and it is strongly suggested that you disinfect your blades after each plant so that you do not place diseases from one bush to the next. Bleach based wipes you use for indoor cleaning work fine. Ideally you want to prune before your bushes send out new growth.
Tea, shrub and floribunda roses need to be pruned once a year. Look over the plant before pruning. You want to make sure that branches are not rubbing against each other. Make sure that there will be good air circulation in the center of the plant so you have less black spot fungus developed if we have a wet spring or summer. Look for any canes that have died or suffered some die back due to one of the cold snaps we had this winter. Once your analysis is complete it is time to give the plant a trim. Look at the cane and you should see small bumps where new growths can emerge. Cut above one of these growths if it is facing outwards. Cutting the cane above an inward growth bud will result in the plant pushing growth in that direction and causing less air circulation and additional rubbing of branches. A general rule of thumb is you can prune a third of the plant and not negatively impact for the upcoming season.
Feeding Your Roses:
Roses are heavy feeders because they push new growth and many flowers. You have access to a variety of fertilizers at garden centers, nurseries and hardware stores. Each package will have three numbers describing the amount of key ingredients found within. Example to demonstrate what is included might be a package that says 5-10-5. The first number tells you that there is nitrogen in the blend which aides in the development of leaves. The “10” stands for phosphate which feeds the plant and aides in the production of flowers, fruit and or seeds. The final “5” stands for potassium which helps the general all well-being of the plant. Consider using fertilizer that has a higher middle number for phosphate because you want to see flower production but be careful to not use super-phosphate as too much of a good thing can burn the roots of the plant. You can take a handful of fertilizer and sprinkle it on the soil around the plant and either scratch it into the surface or let the rain take the plant food to the roots. Another application between now and July 1st can be applied. Liquid fertilizer can be used but should be applied once the ground thaws or it may not soak into the soil.
Planting New Rose Bushes:
For those of you thinking of purchasing a rose bush make sure you have a location that gets 6 hours of sun for the best results. Roses are sun lovers. Another consideration is that the location for tea and floribunda roses should not be where it is exposed to the harsh winds of winter or road salts. Rose bushes want soil that has been enhanced with organic matter/compost especially if the soil is heavy clay. Water well once planted so that air pockets in the soil have been eliminated and make sure the plant gets at least an inch of water a week and the water goes on the ground and not the leaves.
Chester Heights Resident