Using mulch, especially an organic one, is about the closest thing possible to a garden panacea. A mulch keeps weeds to a minimum, the soil moist and loose and adds nutrients.
Apply mulch in the spring just as the soil warms and before weeds start coming up. Mulch can also be applied anytime during the growing season if the weeds are removed and the surface lightly cultivated. Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch over the bed, leaving some space open around the base of each rose. Replace the mulch as it deteriorates during the year.
For organic mulches, you’ll want to use whatever is locally available and cheap. Some options include wood chips and shavings, shredded bark, pine needles, or chopped oak leaves. Extra nitrogen fertilizer may be needed when these mulches are first applied. Mixtures of materials are usually more satisfactory as they have less tendency to pack down and, moreover, permit easy transmission of water and fertilizers. Many compost mixtures are available — also a light layer of manure may be applied under the mulch.
Adequate soil moisture is indispensable to the vitality of roses. (For more information, see the American Rose Society: Watering) Seldom can you rely on the natural rainfall to be adequate. The rule-of-thumb is 1 inch of water each week, but the actual frequency of watering will depend on your soil and climate as well as the age of the plant.
The goal is to slowly water until the soil is soaked 12 to 18 inches deep. Soaker hoses or a hose with a bubbler attachment are inexpensive solutions and keep water from splashing onto foliage and spreading diseases. Soil-level and drip-irrigation systems are more expensive but make watering a breeze.
Pruning controls the size and shape of roses and keeps the modern varieties blooming repeatedly all summer long, as they flower on new growth. The supplies you’ll need include a good, sharp, curved-edge pruning shears; long-handled lopping shears; a small pruning saw; plus a pair of leather gardening gloves.
Well-established varieties of modern rose bushes such as hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras should receive a major pruning each spring after the winter protection has been removed and just as the buds begin to swell (usually about when daffodils bloom). Harsh pruning makes bigger, but fewer blooms. And, there is no report that anyone ever killed a plant with a pair of pruning shears.
All that’s needed otherwise during the growing season is to remove and destroy any diseased foliage or canes and to dead head, or remove the faded flowers, cutting their stems just above the first leaf with five leaflets.
Most old fashioned and species roses as well as the climbers that bloom only once a year flower on wood from the previous year’s growth. They are pruned right after flowering.
Container rose plantings are not only a decorative addition to any part of the outdoor living area, they are also a perfect way to change the look of the landscape from month to month or year to year. Roses in pots extend the scope and possibilities of gardening. Wide walkways can be highlighted with tubs of roses spotted here and there. Steps to the front or back door can be graced with the beauty and fragrance of roses. Miniature roses can dress up window boxes in the summer, and then be brought indoors in winter to perk up the house.
Patios, decks, and terraces have become favorite spots for entertaining and relaxing on warm summer days and evenings. Add to the pleasure of these moments with planters teeming with the color and fragrance of the world’s favorite flower. In an area used at night, select a white or pastel rose, such as Cherish, French Lace, or Rose Parade. Bring color right down to the swimming pool with pots of roses set on the paving. If you have a spot to hang a basket, fill it with miniature roses for a continuous display of summer color, then move the basket indoors for the winter. Select a trailing variety and let the flowers cascade from tree limbs, overhangs, and brackets.
Gardening without a garden: Containers make it possible to grow roses on balconies, terraces, and roof tops high above city streets. The limited gardening space that comes with condos, town houses, and brownstones can be multiplied with portable planters. Movable roses should be the shorter-growing varieties of the modern-day hybrid roses as they are more compact with great quantities of flowers all summer.
Good selections are:
* New Year * Showbiz * Impatient * Intrigue * Sun Flare * Mon Cheri * Marina * Charisma * First Edition * Cathedral * Bahia * Electron * Redgold * Gene Boerner * Angel Face * Europeana * Garden Party * Sarabande * Ivory Fashion
Containers can be any shape, round, or hexagonal as long as they are 18 inches across and 14 inches deep for proper root development. Use pots made of plastic, clay, terra cotta, ceramic, metal, or wood. All they need to be effective is drainage at the bottom. If you’re working with a planter that does not have drainage holes, add a thick layer of gravel at the bottom of the container so the roots do not become waterlogged. Pots can be heavy and difficult to move about, so casters are an excellent addition.
Roses need at least six hours of sun a day ideally place movable roses where they receive morning sun and some protection form the midday heat. Also try to keep them out of drying winds. If the plants receive uneven sun and start growing in one direction to reach the light, rotate them often to keep growth straight. Roses in containers will need more water than the same roses in the ground. Not only are all sides of the container subject to drying sun and winds, there is also no ground water to fall back upon. Watch planters carefully and water whenever the growing medium starts to dry out. Water until moisture runs from the bottom of the container. A mulch on top of the planter will help keep the roots of the roses moist and cool.
Planting soil should be rich and well drained. A packaged or homemade mix of half organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, and half perlite or vermiculite is ideal. As roses in pots must be watered so often, they must also be fertilized frequently. Feed each week with soluble fertilizer at one-quarter strength for even growth and flowering.
Winter storage, move the pots into an unheated but frost- free area, keep the soil slightly moist, cover with plastic, and return to the outdoors in spring.
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