Guest Author - Charity Armstrong
Rose gardeners often use more chemicals in the garden than other home gardeners. If you choose to treat your roses with any chemical sprays or powders you should first be educated about chemical safety. Where chemicals are concerned nothing is more important than always following proper safety practices to protect you, your family, and your pets.
Your first step should be to only purchase chemicals that are suited for the pest or disease you wish to treat. If your rose is being affected by a new issue ensure that those really are aphids or that your diagnosis of black spot or powdery mildew is accurate. How can you accomplish this? Search on-line for photos of your disease or pest, ask a knowledgeable neighbor, search through a rose gardening manual or take a piece of your affected rose into the local extension office for diagnosis.
Once you've made a positive diagnosis select the least toxic method of controlling it. An example of this would be if you have black spot, but aren't bothered by insects. You should then select a product that is only a fungicide and specifies black spot on the label. If you purchase a fungicide that also includes an insecticide you will treat your fungal problem, but also kill your beneficial insects and expose yourself to unnecessary chemicals. Just read the container of your product to find out what it controls or ask a helpful garden center employee.
All chemical safety boils down to is reading your product instructions. Read the entire label before applying any product. Read the section of what do if you get the product in your eye, on your skin or even accidentally ingest the chemical. Trust me, it's harder to read the precaution list once you're dizzy, can't breathe or have the chemical in your eye.
Follow all application instructions both for safety and to ensure product's effectiveness. If they recommend a chemical mask use one. If they recommend chemical resistant gloves use them. Once you're finished applying the product if they recommend washing all your clothes do so. If the bottle or package recommends showering do that as well. It's better to be safe than to feel ill or develop a skin reaction.
Product storage is equally as important as product application. Chemicals should always be stored away from children and pets, and preferably in a locked location. If at all possible don't store chemicals in your home or garage. If your home is flooded, hit with a hurricane or catches fire it will be best to have the chemicals outdoors in a locked shed rather than spilled across your home's garage or interior. It's bad enough to return to a damage home, let alone one that has become a toxic site.
This is also why you should never purchase large quantities of chemicals to store on your property. Purchase the smallest amount of product available which is enough to do the job. The more chemicals you're storing the greater chance of them being ingested by a child or pet, spilled during a natural disaster or contributing to a house fire.
The key to maintaining your roses and using chemicals safely is to use common sense and don't apply a product or chemical unless it's necessary. Then once you've decided to apply a product ensure you're applying it correctly, and follow all the safety precautions on the label. When you've finished using the product safely, clean up and be sure to properly store your product.
While using chemicals in the rose garden should be avoided if possible, applying chemicals can be done in a safe manner. The key is preparation, reading the instructions and following all label directions. The time you spend educating yourself on chemical safety will be well worth it to you and your family.