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...Caring for Roses in Richmond

Pick a sunny location
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 affordable.

Water regularly
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.

Fertilizing
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

April
Mix together:
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

May
Fish emulsion: 3 Tablespoons per gallon; one gallon per bush
Peters 20-20-20: 1 Tablespoon per gallon, one gallon per bush

June
10-10-10: 3/4 cup/bush
Alfalfa meal: 3/4 cup/bush

July
Organic fertilizer (e.g. Fertrell or Mills Magic): 1 cup per bush
-or-
Milorganite: 1/2 cup per bush
-or-
10-10-10: 3/4 cup per bush

August
Same as April

> One week before the show, apply a fertilizer high in phosphorous such as Super Bloom.

> For miniatures, decrease amounts by one half.

Good Luck!



Weeds: 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.
Publication 530-019

Blackspot
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
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.

Spider Mites
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.

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:
Publication 450-620


Caution: All 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.



Use Rose Care products to prevent disease: Start your spray program with your first pruning of the year.

Use a contact fungicide: 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 fungicide: 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.

Contact Fungicides

  • Mancozeb/Fore
  • Manzate/Maneb

Systemic Fungicides

  • Banner Max
  • Clearys 3336F
  • Triforine/Funginex

Caution: All rose care products can be harmful if misused. Be sure to read the label and follow instructions carefully.

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