Thursday, January 12, 2012

Roses, a learning experience

Roses grow quite well in San Diego if you plant them under the right conditions. They can be a pain in the neck if you don't. I didn't plant my roses in the best possible place because I wanted them where I wanted them, not where they may have wanted to be so I struggle more than necessary to keep them looking nice.

My first mistake was that I did not find varieties that are disease resistant, specifically resistant to fungus. In the future, I plan to walk around the rose garden at Balboa park to find the varieties that don't show problems with fungal disease before buying new plants for our garden. Secondly, I did not choose a spot with good air circulation, which further exasperates problems with fungal disease. Another mistake I made was to mulch with landscape rocks around the base of the roses and that is not allowing the roots to breathe.

Even with all of these mistakes, our roses still look gorgeous during much of the year.
Last spring when the roses were looking fabulous - even a random stray cat thought so
I planted them along my fence because I wanted people walking by on the sidewalk to be able to stop and smell the roses in front of our garden. The problem with this location is they aren't getting enough air circulation. I cut the roses down to the canes in January and the picture above is from April. 

It didn't take long for the roses to start showing signs of fungal disease. Powdery mildew and rose rust soon set in and I ended up pruning two of the plants down to the canes again in July. They did well again for awhile until recently with the rust and powdery mildew again. I have been trying to control this with a powdered milk solution and a natural garden fungicide made from essential oils.

The roses on Monday after the most recent set of blooms opened and expired.
I planned to cut the roses down to the canes at this time anyway because they'll come back fuller and healthier if you do prune them down at least once a year. In San Diego you can get away with not pruning them like this but your roses will probably look better overall if you do. January is a good time to do this.

I gathered up the tools I needed for the job, leather gloves, boots and pruners.

We definitely have a rust problem going on
I'm going to cut the plant all the way down to the bare canes
I make my cuts at an angle and try to keep the cuts as clean as possible. This can be difficult with really thick canes and a ratcheting set of pruners may help.
I made sure to pick up the leaf litter off the ground so the rust and powdery mildew does not continue to infect the soil.

Here are the roses all cut back.
Now I will go though and expand the area around the base of the roses that is open. I'll move a lot of the rock away and cut the landscape fabric away to make the exposed area of soil larger around each of the the roses. I will work some powdered milk and corn meal into the soil to help control the next generation of fungus and then add worm castings and mulch heavily. Hopefully this will help the roses stay healthy longer.
"It seems like you have much better success with avocados, maybe you should stick with that."

1 comment:

  1. LOL.. Gidget always has something intelligent to add to the conversation.