Spring Rose Care

When spring comes it’s time for gardeners to roll up their sleeves and  get busy and I can’t wait!

Here are some tips that I follow for getting my roses off to a good start in my Zone 5b garden.

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Garden June 2016

 

1. PLANTING

For early April planting, I buy bare root roses from online vendors (my preferred list here). When they arrive they are “bare roots” wrapped in wet newspaper. Very humble beginnings for a plant that will be so lovely later!

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A good moo poo start...
Bare roots soaking in Moo Poo Tea…

I immediately unpack them and soak them in a bucket of Moo Poo tea for 24 hours before planting.

Planting decisions are dependent on the type of rose…

Grafted Roses: Many hybrid teas, floribunda and grandifloras are grafted roses.

This means that a rose is created by being grafted onto strong, hardy rootstock, creating a “bud union.” Plant the bud union (knobby part just above the roots) 3” below the soil line to protect it from harsh winters we often have.

Own Root Roses: These roses were started from cuttings and are on their own root, so there is no bud union to protect. I plant them as I would any other shrub.

Soil: We ask roses to bloom for us all summer, year after year, so it is best to give them a good start by planting them in good, rich soil. Our neck of the woods has horrible gray clay soil so we dig BIG holes–holes much deeper and wider than the root system to allow for soil amendments and deep enough to protect the bud union. (At least 18″ by 18″.) To the soil removed, we add compost and a quality grade of top soil. Your roses will appreciate your gifts of more nutrients and better drainage and will reward you handsomely! You will never regret giving your roses a good foundation.

Roses Already in Leaf and Bloom…

If you purchased something from a garden center that is already leafed out and perhaps has buds or blooms, wait until the frost date has passed to plant them in the garden. In my zone that date is May 10. I have two beautiful Dee-Lish roses waiting patiently in the Potting Shed as I type. I will confess to occassionally planting a little earlier than May 10, but you have to be prepared to cover them if frosty nights come!! #notpatient


2. PRUNING

First tip: DON’T BE AFRAID TO PRUNE. I’ve made countless “mistakes” through the years and the roses always forgive and come back!

Here in the midwest, it is  difficult to know when winter is really over and it is time to prune. For many years, I have let the forsythia tell me. When the forsythia is blooming, I start pruning. This year the temps have been up and down and there has been a lot of pressure on the forsythia. So use your best judgement! 😬

MOST of the time, the forsythia plan works.

Tools of the trade…

You will need protective gloves and a sharp pair of pruners. My choices are Bionic Gloves and Barnel Pruners from Wendy Tilley, owner of The Rose Gardener Garden Shop and Harlane Garden Labels.

Different types of roses have different pruning needs. Read more about pruning here.

The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild from last summer. Amazing David Austin!
The Ingenious Mr. Fairchild from last summer. Amazing David Austin

3. FERTILIZE

Once our roses are starting to grow, it’s time for fertilizer. Most any fertilizer will do—but do read labels carefully–too much of a good thing can be harmful! I use a combination of Moo Poo Tea, Mills Magic Mix and inorganic fertilizer on my roses. Fertilizer applications are about 6 weeks apart for most of my roses. Old Garden Roses and Rugosas are fertilized in the spring. Shrubs and Knockouts are only fertilized twice a season–spring and summer.

4. WATERING

Once the fertilizer has been applied, you will want to give your roses a deep watering to get those nutrients down to where they can do some good.

A good rule of thumb is to water at the base of the plant especially if you are watering in the evening, as wet rose leaves are more susceptible to fungal diseases (e.g. Black Spot & Powdery Mildew). Although, if I am watering in the morning I give them a good all-over shower. This is great way to remove dirt and any insects that have shown up for the tasty and tender buds! I think roses appreciate a refreshing shower just as we do, just don’t put them to bed wet.


5. MULCHING

This is one of my favorite parts. Mulch is so good for your roses … retains moisture, helps to keep down weeds and gives the garden that fresh, finished look!

One thing to remember when applying mulch … when mulch breaks down, it uses nitrogen in the process, so add a layer of compost on top of the soil before you add the mulch layer then the nitrogen in the soil can be used by the rose. If you are working in an established bed and last year’s mulch is still there, leave it… it becomes a “compost layer.” Win. Win.

Our Lady of Guadelupe and neighbors.
Our Lady of Guadalupe and neighbors.

MY FAVORITE TIP…

My favorite tip is to visit your roses daily or as often as you can to enjoy their beauty and to get to know them. Getting to know them can be key in early detection of any pest or disease.

And, when you have beautiful roses outside, who can stay in!

FORSYTHIA, ROSES & LIFE

It’s that time of year — time to watch for the blooming of the forsythia as it heralds in the gardening season for me and a time to remember…

The Garden Diary

Even though they don’t rate as high on my list as roses, herbs and hydrangeas, forsythias do have a special place in my heart for several reasons.

REASON #1: Forsythia blooms signal it is time to give my roses their spring trim.

REASON #2: Just when winter is at it’s most dreary and I am ready to scream, out pops these bright, beautiful blooms.

REASON #3: Forsythia can be forced to bloom inside even before it is warm enough to bloom outside. Another late winter perk.

REASON #4 (And, the most special reason): My parents loved forsythia. As most of you know, my dad passed away in January of 2013, and one of his last conversations about his yard was that he was looking forward to seeing the forsythia bloom. That now takes forsythia to another level!

I cut some of Dad’s forsythia in hope that I could force it…

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An Immediate Connection

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Last week I had the pleasure to speak to the New Orleans Old Garden Rose Society and to spend several days with them. I knew I would have a good time, but I didn’t know what a deep connection we would form. Was it the charm of New Orleans or the old garden roses or our mutual love of gardening or perhaps the combination of all of that plus all the stories we shared in such a short time. I doubt there is a more caring group of people anywhere. They take hospitality to an entirely new level.

A heartfelt thank you….

To the amazing Peggy Martin (read her story here) for the invitation, her extra effort as a tour guide — making sure I saw as much as possible in our 4 days together. And, I did! For the lovely guest room filled to the brim with roses. Ahhhh I was in heaven. And, for the opportunity to learn we are twins on so many levels! To MJ for the stories and the amazing shrimp. I’ll be back for more.

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To Diane Wilensky, president of the NO Old Garden Rose Society, for all the laughs and conversations and for hosting me even though you are going through home renovations! I can’t wait for my return visit to see the finished product! Oh, let’s not forget your getting up at 4 am to take me to the airport! #RedLipstickRules 💄

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To Eddie and Sue Sanchez for a lovely dinner and beinget experience! (Plus Diane’s sugary episode ! 😂) For showing me what David Austin roses can really do, and for sending me off with New Orleans finest coffee. Mr. G thanks you too! #CoffeeMakesEverythingBetter ☕️

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To Peter Patout for hosting all of us in his charming home in the French Quarter on the historic Bourbon Street and serving us the most delicious crawfish etoufette.

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To Leo Watermeier for the tour of the beautiful rose garden in Louis Armstrong Park and for his tireless work in caring for these historical roses!  I’ll be back to see them bloom! And, for choosing the perfect lunch spot — Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe.

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To Jon Kemp (and her husband John Reed) for inviting us to their lovely 1810 Creole Cottage in the French Quarter. I doubt I will ever forget you, your lovely home and enchanting garden, the walls banked with roses… or that amazing praline covered King Cake! 😉

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To Margaret Ganier for all the “fail proof” tips on rooting rose cuttings! I can’t wait to get started! I am determined to make you proud!

To Kim Ngan Nguyen for the enthusiatic welcome, finding me on Instagram and getting the books ordered so quickly. Best wishes in finding your much deserved Pearl.

And to all the rest of this amazing group, thank you for the warm welcome!

Have a bloom-filled spring!