When it comes to midsummer rose care, there are several different things to keep in mind.
If you had the foresight to plant a rose as part of a container garden, let me remind you that these plants, including the miniatures, are greedy feeders and if you want to see a lot of blooms you will have to feed the plant every week.
Plant food provides the energy to produce those huge blossoms and the extra shoots that produce even more blossoms. I use an organic liquid fish food fertilizer on all my container plants and roses love it as well. You also do not want to let your rose get thirsty.
Remember that if you touch the soil and your finger comes away dry, it is time to water that pot. Continue applying water until water comes out the bottom of the pot to ensure the soil is soaked right to the bottom and no roots are allowed to dry out. Feed and water those containers and you’ll have fragrance this summer but without this essential bit of rose care, your containers will disappoint.
If you have roses in the ground, whether it’s traditional rose gardening or a plant here and there, let me remind you that the above two rose care suggestions are equally valid. Feed those roses with a liquid plant food and watch the plant grow. And remember that blossoms are over 90 percent water so if you reduce the water, you reduce the size and number of blossoms on the plant.
Rose flower pruning is one of those dull rose care chores that are necessary in order to keep the rose producing more blossoms, reduce disease in the garden and just keep things looking good. With hybrid tea roses, once the blossoms start to fade, each bloom should be pruned off.
There is some disagreement about how much of the stem to cut off along with the fading rose and while some rosarians suggest only taking a few inches, there is research that suggests cutting at least twelve inches of stem or cane off along with the rose will produce more blossoms in subsequent bloom flushes.
I have always taken the longer stem cutting in the belief that the longer the stem I cut off, the more new buds will develop to produce even more flowers. What is important is that you do remove spent flowers before they become sites for diseases to establish themselves.
Other kinds of roses should also be deadheaded as the flowers are finished blooming and that includes all climbing roses. Suffice it to say that pruning them immediately after they finish blooming is traditional rose care.
And that brings me to a question I get asked regularly. What happens if I make a mistake with the pruning? The short answer is that this is a plant, it is not brain surgery. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Well, you might kill the plant, but the chances are that the plant will simply grow back and you’ll get another chance to do it correctly.
It is certainly that way with roses. Many of them will simply die over the winter anyway so why worry about a few poor pruning cuts. Do your best and let the plant live with your efforts; you might, however, try taking a book on pruning out of the library next winter.
Black Spot and Rose Care
The last thing that many rose lovers are concerned with right now is the dreaded black spot. This disease starts out as small black spots and these spots enlarge and multiply. The spots go yellowish and the leaves drop off the rose. Planting resistant varieties only delays the inevitable.
Let me suggest that a weekly spray mix consisting of: 3 tsp. baking soda, 2 1/2 tbs. summer-weight horticultural oil, mixed with 1 gallon of water will control black spot enough for the average gardener. Yes, you’ll still see it later in the summer but you’re still going to see it with the expensive, chemical bomb you use as well.
Spray this every week and immediately after rains for complete coverage that will slow blackspot down to a dull and livable roar.
There is also some research suggesting Neem oil can be used as an alternate spray (spray with the homemade spray one week, the neem the next).
Twist with Powdery Mildew
If your growing tips on your roses are twisted and curled, it is likely you have powdery mildew. You might never see the white powder that is evident on other plants infected with this problem but those twisted leaves are a dead giveaway on roses. Uncurl the leaves to make sure the curling is not an insect making a nest in there and if no insect is present, powdery mildew is the culprit.
Prune off the infected tips and start a weekly spray of the above recipe. Do not water the leaves if at all possible but apply water to the base of the plant.