) After the bud eyes swell and the first few new leaflets appear, remove the soil from around the canes and form a watering well around the base of the rose.
Step 7: Sit back and enjoy all your hard work.
BTW, if you are not sure which hardiness zone you are in, and you live in the United States, Alaska or Hawaii, you can check the Hardiness Zone Map on my website. If you don’t live in United States, there is also a table available to compare your average lowest winter temperature to a specified zone.
Knowing what fertilizers to use and how to apply them is critical to getting your roses started off in the right direction this spring.
Basically, there are two groups of fertilizers – synthetic and organic. Quite honestly, the plant doesn’t know the difference between the two. It’s only interested in the ions it can absorb through the roots and leaves. But choosing the right fertilizer and applying it correctly has a significant impact on the hardiness and vigor of your plant.
For the purpose of discussion, synthetic fertilizers are those that are nitrate-based. Often, they contain ammonium nitrate. Nitrates are the form of nitrogen used by the plant. Conversely, organic fertilizers are nitrite-based and must be broken down by microbial activity. After nitrifying bacteria convert the nitrites into nitrates, the plant "gets fed." This is why I use the expression, "Synthetic fertilizers feed the plant. Organic fertilizers feed the soil… which in turn feeds the plant."
Nitrate-based fertilizers can cause serious damage to roses if applied incorrectly or too early in the season. These fertilizers often cause a spurt of tender, young growth - growth that has not had sufficient time to harden before winter's freezing weather is complete. Die-back is often the result.
Likewise, applying these fertilizers creates an over-concentration of nitrogen in the growth tips. This nitrogen attracts plant sucking pests, like aphids, and increases your workload in gardening chores.
Finally, applying nitrate-based fertilizers does little to improve the soil because it shortcuts the nitrogen cycle. And in some cases, these fertilizers may actually damage the soil because many are attached to a salt which is not easily leached away.
Because of this, most every rosarian adds organic supplements as a "tonic" to their garden at the beginning of the rose growing season. The best time for this activity is just after pruning.
Before applying your tonic, it’s a good idea to see what is missing (or what has been consumed) from the garden. This is easily done with an inexpensive soil test kit. Then, modify your tonic to provide extra supplements as needed.
Tip#4: Controlling Beetles
Did you get Japanese Beetles last year? May or June Beetles? Cucumber Beetles? You can control these pest beetles all season long without having to work so hard keeping them away! But now is the time to prepare!
In 30 - 60 days throughout most parts of the country, the Japanese and May/June beetles will begin emerging. Larvae (sometimes called the "White Grubworm") have been
over wintering in your soil – munching on roots and generally having a grand old time under your roses. Most species of the Cucumber Beetle overwinter as adults. When warmer temperatures arrive this spring, they lay eggs for the summer’s offspring. The larvae of the Cucumber Beetle are also known as the Corn Rootworm and no less than six species are found throughout the North American continent. All these beetle pests love your rose garden and can decimate foliage, blossoms or both!
If you had pest beetle problems last year, you can minimize their presence this year by applying beneficial nematodes to your garden and roses' watering well as soon as the soil temperatures warm.
Sold by many nurseries, home improvement centers, insectaries and mail-order firms, these products come under a variety of brand names. The "active ingredients" to look for are a species of micro-worms which either go by the name Heterorhabditis or Steinernema. Some products contain a blend of both micro-worms.
These micro-worms are harmless to humans, our pets and our roses. But they devastate soil borne pest larvae and eggs (including those of the Harvester Ant, Southern Fire Ant, and Leaf-cutting Ant).
Oh! By the way, if you continue to use diazinon or chlorpyrifos lawn insecticides, you will kill these beneficial critters along with your pest grubs.
Tip#5: Disbudding Roses
Disbudding is the early removal of bloom buds. This practice allows the rose to send nutrients to the buds that remain. The result is a more fashionable, larger rose - one more suitable for display.
On Hybrid Tea roses, you'll notice the terminal bud (the one on the very tip of the stem) is the first to form. Shortly after, secondary buds are formed around the terminal bud. Early removal of these secondary buds sends the rose's energy to the terminal bud - producing a larger bloom. The removal of these secondary buds should be done early in their development. It is easily done with the fingers or pair of tweezers.
On roses that produce multiple blooms, like those of Floribundas or Grandifloras, it is the terminal bud that is removed. On these roses, the terminal bud will open first. By the time surrounding blooms form the terminal rose is almost fully blown. The result is a floral spray with a hole in the center. By removing this terminal bud early in its formation, the rose's energy goes toward those that remain. The result is a floral spray that is full -- without the hole in the center.
If you're interested in displaying roses for competition or just producing a nice specimen for the dinner table, try disbudding a few of your roses. I think you'll be pleased with the results.
Tip#6: Listerine® and Extending the life of cut roses.
Rose scientists are not certain why or even how it works. All they know is that it *does* work.
To preserve the fresh cut appearance of your roses, harvest them early in the morning - before the blooms are fully "blown" (fully opened). Bring them into the house, and place the cut ends into a bowl of water. Then,
with a sharp pair of scissors, re-cut the end of the rose under water and at a 45 degree angle. This second cut should be made about 1 in. (2.5 cm) above the original cut.
Next, slowly retract the stem from the water. A small water droplet should remain on the cut end of the rose. Then insert the cut end into a bottle of Listerine® antiseptic mouthwash, and leave it there for 30 seconds.
Finally, remove the rose from the mouthwash and place it in a vase of fresh water.
Tests using these procedures have shown the cut rose will look fresher and last as much as 30% longer than when using the same procedures without the mouthwash.
And one last note: Be certain to mark the bottle of mouthwash so you won't use it for personal hygiene.
Tip #7: The Rose Community
No matter how hard we try to give you good advice, it's always best to consult with experienced rosarians in your own neighborhood. If you're new to roses (or even if you aren't), be sure to join your local rose society.
There are lots of benefits to growing roses with the friends in your local society. Most societies publish a newsletter full of great tips and "how to's" specific to your own local conditions. You'll have access to Consulting Rosarians - folks who just love giving advice. And you have the opportunity to share your rose experiences with fellow rosarians and learn from each other's successes and failures.
To find a society near you, check for your respective society's homepage on the Internet. For the U.S., the American Rose Society has a list of local societies and their respective points of contact. Some other societies to contact are the Canadian Rose Society and the Royal Horticultural Rose Society in the U.K.
And if there isn't a society near you?..... Start one!