Growing Roses During Drought
You won’t make it without mulch. Mulch will help your garden soil hold moisture longer. Apply a generous layer of natural mulch up to two inches in depth. Shredded hardwood, pine or shredded leaves can all be excellent choices. Also check to see if you have a local mulch supply that can often be acquired for free or very little cost. Pecan factories will have pecan shells you can pick up or a local ball bat factory may have shredded bark you can use as mulch. Nothing is better than free mulch even if the material isn’t necessarily your number one choice.
Once you have your roses well covered with a nice layer of mulch the next thought is proper watering. Drip irrigation is excellent and roses love it. Drip irrigation is simple to install and can be found at any “big box” home improvement store. You can even purchase a small drip irrigation timer for around $25 that will enable you to run your drip irrigation at 5:00 am. Watering before the sun comes up will enable your roses to take full advantage the water provided them without competition from evaporation.
The next step is to stop fertilizing! Fertilizer causes your roses to send up new delicate growth. That new growth will require additional water. If your roses are stressed and appear to be suffering due to a persistent dry spell you should simply try and maintain them as they are. Your goal should be to get your roses through the hot dry weather unharmed and not cause them the additional stress of fertilizing and maintaining new growth.
A lack of fertilizing doesn’t mean you should forgo soil amendments. Your roses will love to receive a fresh layer of compost, mulched leaf and grass clippings, or even a bit of coffee grounds raked into the soil. The key is to not cause a high level of additional new growth. Improving the soil may cause a slight amount of growth but your roses will be better able to support themselves due to their high nutrient soil.
Before we know it summer will have passed and winter will be upon us with its cold dreary days. Though I often stress over the hot summer weather myself, but be sure to enjoy it before the snow gets here. Once the early fall weather comes we’ll all head out to our gardens in full force to enjoy the last few months of beautiful weather with our garden roses.
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