FEBRUARY IN THE ROSE GARDEN
BY Joyce Dillon
Ed is unable to do his monthly column this month hopefully he will be better next month and be back with us.
So I will try to do February in the rose garden.
It is pruning time, the objective of pruning is to open up the center of the bush and reduce the plant to the most productive canes. Major spring pruning involves removal of twiggy growth, crossing canes and stems. Any diseased or dead wood is pruned to healthy wood. You should be left with several major canes on the bush. These canes should be reduced by 1/3 of their height.
Cut back to an outside facing eye. Your cuts should be made at an angle, with the lower end of the cut facing away from the bud eye, approximately ¼ th inch above the bud eye.
A controversial issue at pruning time is what to do with the leaves. Many growers say take all the leaves off and get a fresh start. Others say leave them on. Which do you do? If your leaves are disease free because you have been spraying regularly throughout the winter then leave them on. Removing the leaves shocks the bush and sets them back several weeks. If most of your leaves are covered with blackspot in that case I would remove all the leaves and start all over.
I usually prune my Hybrid Teas starting the end of January and plan to be finished by February 15. Clean your beds of all trashy leaves and begin your spray program as soon as you are finished pruning..
Also begin feeding your rose with organics. Be sure to check the ph of your soil and add lime if needed the ideal ph range is 6.5. There are many organics that are great for your roses but if you grow only a few roses the easiest way is to add 4 cups Milorganite, 8-10 cups dehydrated cow manure, 1 cup of alfalfa pellets and ½ cup Epson Salts. The combination of alfalfa and Epson salts will give you lots of basal breaks which is what you want.
If you take a small wire brush and clean the tough covering off the graft it will be easier for the basal to emerge, but be gentle.
Floribundas, shrubs and old garden roses I prune less just cleaning up the dead wood and crossing canes shortening any canes that seem too tall. Have fun I am I love spring.
page updated: Friday, January 31, 2003