Guest Author - Charity Armstrong
Spring is on the horizon. Many rose gardeners are already experiencing the occasional warm weekend that beckons you out into the garden. Spending just a day or an afternoon in the rose garden can help you get things cleaned up before spring makes its full appearance.
What are some of the first things you should focus on for healthy spring roses? Youíll want to get started by cleaning up both the bed and the plants themselves. You also need to decide if anything should be transplanted to a new area, since now would be an appropriate time for transplanting.
Cleaning up your rose bed is easy. Remove any leaves, sticks or other debris that winter has left behind. If you didnít replace your old summer mulch in the fall now would be the time to do it. Insects and diseases can appear to have left with the cold weather, but theyíll often overwinter in your mulch. You donít want last summers pests popping back up for a nasty spring surprise. Replacing the top layer of your old mulch with fresh can remove any lingering insects or diseases.
Now that your rose bed is cleaned up you can focus on the plants. First step is to remove any dead wood. Once your roses have begun to sprout multiple new leaf buds you can often tell which canes are dead. Dead canes wonít have any new growth emerging from them and are usually a different color from the live canes. Removing dead wood or canes spruces up your rose bushís appearance. Diseases or fungi are often harbored in dead wood as well so removing the dead canes will improve the health of your rose plant.
If you havenít treated your roses with horticultural oil yet this winter there is still time. Since the weather is beginning to warm use light horticultural oil that is suitable for warmer weather. Your local garden center will be able to recommend the correct brand for you. Horticultural oil is generally less harsh than most pesticides and can easily remove any left over bugs or fungi before the weather warms.
Finally you should make sure all of your roses are happy where they are currently planted in the garden. If last summer your rose suffered too much shade from a tree that has grown larger, you could transplant your rose to a sunnier spot. Your roses may have been planted to close to each other or another bush. Itís easier to transplant your rose now while the weather is cooler and the plant isnít actively growing. Decide if you should take the opportunity to relocate your rose or if you want to try and stick it out for one more season.
Once youíve cleaned up your rose bed and spruced up the roses themselves, youíre ready for spring. Wait until after the last frost date has passed before applying any fertilizer. This will help prevent cold damage to tender new growth. Now all you need to do is sit back, relax and wait for those beautiful, spring rose blooms.