Guest Author - Charity Armstrong
Rose growers everywhere have a dislike of spraying their plants. Almost no one enjoys suiting up and heading out into the garden to hose their roses down with a collection of chemicals. If you’ve decided this could be the year for you to “go green” below are some helpful tips.
Keep your rose garden neat, clean and well maintained. One of the easiest ways to prevent a build of increasing pests and diseases is to replace your mulch every year with fresh. You don’t have to remove all the mulch in your garden, just what’s around your roses. Then add fresh clean mulch that will help your roses hold in moisture, keeping water and mold spores from splashing up onto your plants.
A very important step to keeping a healthy garden is to sanitize your garden tools. Your pruners and other rose gardening implements should regularly be cleaned with a mixture of bleach and water or peroxide. This will kill any disease or bad bacteria that could be hitching a ride on your tools from one rose plant to the next.
Healthy pruning and watering practices are key to healthy roses. Water roses from below using a soaker hose, drip irrigation, or hand water only at the base of the plant. It’s best to water in the morning so that your rose doesn’t sit wet overnight. Proper pruning plays a role in drying your rose out faster after rain by increasing air circulation. When pruning, favor buds on the outside of the rose canes and discourage growth that is headed toward the center of the plant. Remove crossing canes as well as any dead or diseased wood.
By using organic fertilizers and soil amendments you’ll increase your concentration of healthy fungi and bacteria in your soil. The healthy fungi and bacteria will then be able to keep the unhealthy ones under control. Organic fertilizers are also slow release and will help benefit and improve your soil overtime rather than just being a quick nutrient fix for your plants. By using slow release and organic soil amendments you’ll have healthy happy roses all summer long.
Pests, molds and fungi are inevitable when dealing with roses. Even if you’ve taken the utmost care by instituting healthy growing practices, and selecting disease resistant rose plants to begin with, problems will still arise. Since you’ve taken the above precautions, your disease and pest issues shouldn’t get out of control and can be maintained with a variety of organic and safe practices.
Neem oil is an excellent natural control. Neem oil kills aphids and other pests by smothering them, thus killing them. Neem oil needs to completely coat the pests in order to kill them so you’ll want to ensure you coat the undersides of your rose leaves as well as the top.
Numerous studies have been done using a solution of insecticidal soap mixed with 0.5 – 1.0% baking soda. Many individuals have had more positive effects using this natural method than they have with many prepackaged pesticides and fungicides. The insecticidal soap works with the backing soda helping it to adhere and stick to the roses leaves.
When using natural products and oils the potential for leaf burn in hot weather is increased. Be sure to follow the package instructions and avoid spraying during full sun. If the product package gives a temperature range, such as don’t spray if it’s over 85 degrees, make sure you follow the instructions. It also doesn’t hurt to do spot tests an area of your rose first and then wait a day to make sure everything is fine. Since these products are natural, they’ll need to be applied a bit more often than a synthetic insecticide or pesticide. Unless you’ve had heavy rain generally applying once a week should be adequate to control any issues you’ve been having.
Using organic gardening for roses is easy and considerably more fun than spraying harsh chemicals. Taking the time to institute healthy rose gardening practices and research organic rose gardening methods can really pay off in naturally beautiful roses and healthier plants. You’ll also have the added benefit of knowing your yard is safe for birds, pets and children.