Spring Forward to a New Rose Season

 

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While our fellow gardeners in the North are still hibernating, we in the South are getting ready to start our growing season. Here is a rundown of what rosarians in the South have in their To-Do-List for February:

 

CLEAN UP – If you have not done anything in the garden in January, it is time to start the clean up now before the growing season begins in earnest. Take off the old leaves and dead canes from your rose bushes. Bag them and put them in the trash. Any diseased leaves that fell to the ground, rake them up and discard them. Do NOT put in the compost pile. Pull out weeds and keep your garden bed neat and tidy.

 

SHOVEL PRUNING – Any dead rose and non-performing rose for the last two years have to go. No sense in spending time, space and money on them. Get rid of them and replace them with new ones. Before you plant the new one, replace all the soil in the hole.

 

CATALOGUE BROWSING – I don’t know about you but I’m inundated with catalogs since January. There are so many new rose introductions. Don’t go with the picture alone. Read the description. A lot of gardeners are now looking for disease resistant roses and fragrant roses. I am one of them. Since I have a small garden, I only want fragrant roses now. I also have limited time for garden work so I like disease resistant roses.

 

WATERING – Roses need water even in winter. A well-hydrated rose will fare better at all times. Make sure you water your roses if there is no rain in the forecast. Roses in pots should be watered a few times during the week.

 

PRUNING – Major pruning should be done by the end of February in our region. Bob Lundberg will be talking about pruning at our February meeting so I’ll let you hear from Bob all the details.

 

SPRAYING – Consider spraying with dormant oil before it gets too warm to discourage bugs and diseases in the coming rose season. If your roses struggled with blackspot this past year, lime sulfur is a good way to help clean up lingering fungal spores, along with a horticultural oil that will smother pests and their eggs. If you spray lime sulfur, make sure to do so when overnight temperatures will remain above freezing  and be sure to read the label and apply in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. It is a good idea to spray both the ground and the plant and getting good coverage both top and bottom of the leaves.

 

TESTING THE SOIL pH – If you have not tested the pH of your soil, it is time to do it now. Soil samples need to come from the root zone of the plant, which means getting down past the mulch into the root zone where the soil chemistry is important. If the pH is lower than 6.0, you should add a slow-acting lime. If the test showed the pH higher than 7.0, then you should add sulfur. A pH of 6.5 is ideal for roses to be able to maximize the available nutrients. The question is, how much lime is the right amount? To raise the pH from 5.5 to 6.5 a typical application rate is 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet of garden area. Do not use more than 5 pounds per 100 square feet at any one time. If you are not sure how big your rose bed is, use 1 cup of lime per bush and ½ cup per miniature. remember that raking the lime into the top couple inches of soil will yield better results than sprinkling it over the soil’s surface.

 

SOIL AMENDMENTS – Spread your organic fertilizer like alfalfa meal now. It will not cause the plant to start growing until the soil warms up in the spring. I usually put in compost and put a new layer of mulch. I also put Epsom Salts at this time of the year.

 

After you get the garden ready, sit back and wait for the spring bloom.

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Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society February 2017 Meeting

The Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society will have their February 2017 meeting on Sunday, Feb. 12 at James Island Town Hall, 1238-B Camp Rd., James Island. Admission is FREE. Social at 2:30 pm. Meeting starts at 3:00 pm and ends around 4 pm. The program is about “Pruning your Roses” by Bob Lundberg. Bob will discuss the tools needed to accomplish the pruning tasks, the reason why we prune and the different approaches to pruning different classes of roses. There will be a demonstration of spring pruning of Hybrid Tea and miniature rose plant. If anyone has roses in a pot, you may bring them to the meeting and we will try to include them in the demonstration.

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Bob Lundberg is the Charleston Lowcountry Rose Society Consulting Rosarian chair. He is an American Rose Society Master Rosarian and accredited American Rose Society judge. He and his wife, Sandy, maintain a rose garden of about 400 roses in Blufton, SC and are top rose exhibitors, having won numerous awards from rose shows all over the country.

 

January 2016 Meeting

The January meeting this coming Sunday, Jan. 10, 2015 will be at James Island Town Hall, 1238-B Camp Rd., James Island. Please note the venue change. Use your GPS or MapQuest. It’s near the James Island Library. There is also a shopping center near there and a Dollar General. Use the right side door, not the main door of the Town Hall. Social Hour at 2:30 pm, Meeting at 3:00 pm.

We are doing something different this month. Instead of a speaker, it will be a members’ discussion. The topic is Getting To Know You. We will have individuals tell a bit about themselves, how they got started with roses and where they are today with their rose-growing – more, less, the same and varieties they find themselves best at growing where they live. It will be an interesting exchange and surely we’ll learn something new from each other.

Come and join us at James Island Town Hall on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3 pm. Admission is free.

 

AN ANNUAL RITUAL-ROSE PRUNING!

By Sandy Lundberg

 

 

As the end of February approaches, it will again be time to prune roses in the Lowcountry. In order to approach this job effectively, it is desirable to have an understanding of the concept of pruning.   As a rose plant matures each year, it produces new canes. These newer canes are the most desirable, because they will be the most vigorous producers of flowers. Older canes may have become unproductive simply because of the aging of the plant or damage from winds and cold. Removal of these canes will allow room for new productive canes to emerge. There will also be a lot of twiggy growth that will produce inferior stems if not removed.

 

Exactly when should we prune? Let your rose bush and the weather channel be your guide. Generally, it is ideal to prune when the bud eyes have become red and swollen to about very small pea size.   However, we remember what happened two years ago with the early March freezes. Emerging growth of several inches was frozen. For that reason, many area rosarians, including myself delay pruning. We are now waiting until the last week of February in our garden to begin pruning, depending on the weather forecasts.

 

As you begin, pull back the mulch to expose the bud union. Remove any small, twiggy growth, clearing out the middle of the plant. These small canes and branches left in the center are an invitation for disease and insects. Study the canes that are left. Remove any damaged or diseased canes flush with the bud union. The number of canes you leave on the plant will depend on your goals for your garden. If you exhibit and want larger, but fewer flowers, you will want to leave from 3 to 5 canes. If you want garden display, you may want to leave a few more. Now you need to determine which canes to remove. Be sure to remove the cane flush with the bud union and seal.   If any are crossing or rubbing each other, remove the smallest one. If there are canes that are interfering with the plant next to it, you should remove them also.   Leave last year’s new canes if they are undamaged. If any sucker growth is present, remove it also.

 

Cut the canes at a 45 degree angle to an outside healthy bud eye. The height depends on personal preference. If you want fewer, but larger blooms for exhibition, you will want to cut lower. Most exhibitors prune to about 18 to 20 inches. Any canes that have blackened freeze damage should be cut below the damaged area. The same is true for canes damaged by cane borers. This damage can be seen when the cane’s center (pith) is brown. Continue cutting back until healthy white pith can be seen. If you have to go back to the point where the cane is only a few inches short, it is best to remove the cane entirely.   When finished, the bush should have a vase shape with the center completely open. The pruning cuts should be sealed with a sealer such as Elmer’s Glue.

 

In order to encourage basal breaks, you can peel off the loose layers of bark that overlay the bud union or if the bark is not loose, you may gently scrub some off with a wire brush. As long as no late freezes are expected, leave the mulch pushed back to expose the bud union. The exposure to sunshine helps encourage basal breaks.

 

Immediately after pruning, the bushes and surrounding ground should be sprayed with a good fungicide and a good insecticide. Thereafter it is essential that your disease and pest management program be strictly adhered to.   Remove any diseased leaves that may be lying on the ground.

 

At this time, your organic mixture should be lightly scratched into the ground. We use 3 cups per hybrid tea and floribunda and 1 cup per miniature rose.

 

Pruning of floribundas follows the same principles as apply to hybrid teas with a couple of notable exceptions. Generally, floribundas that produce sprays are pruned higher and not as many canes removed. The floribundas that are noted for producing one bloom per stem, such as Sheila’s Perfume, will be pruned the same as hybrid teas.

 

Miniature roses are pruned with the following principle in mind. Remove the smaller, weaker canes, any twiggy growth, and any damaged canes. The number of canes left will depend on the age of the plant. Some newer minis may only have three or four good canes established, where some older plants may have as many as ten or more. Since they are on their own roots, there is not the concern to make room on a bud union for new canes. As with hybrid teas, however, the ideal is to open the middle of the plant as a disease and pest prevention measure. Usually, the height to which I prune depends on the age and thickness of the canes. About 12 to 15 inches for a large mini bush with large canes is sufficient.

 

Good quality tools will make this job much easier:

  1. Felco pruners (never use flat blade pruners as they mash the canes)
  2. Lobbing shears
  3. Pruning saw
  4. Thorn resistant gloves
  5. Elmer’s glue
  6. Wire brush
  7. A jar of alcohol (dip the pruners frequently to avoid transmitting disease)

It is a good idea to carry all of these in a plastic tote.

 

Note: We bought the Felco folding saw and it is great! I don’t have a lot of strength in my right wrist due to rheumatoid arthritis damage. With this saw I can easily saw through very thick canes.