Temecula Valley Rose Society
Rose Care Corner, July 2007by Frank Brines – Consulting Rosarian
I t's been very hot lately and, for the past year, very dry. In this heat your roses need water, water, water. As I say just about every month, a four inch layer of organic mulch covering the soil of the entire garden is an excellent practice in our climate. Four inches is enough to decrease evaporation by 70%! It prevents crusting and cracking of the soil surface, evens the distribution of moisture in the soil, encourages earthworms and discourages weed seed germination, and moderates the soil temperature for optimal root growth. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunks for good air circulation. Water deeply so you can water less often and so roots will develop deep. Soaker hoses under the mulch are a convenient approach and can cut down on surface evaporation.
Very little or no pruning is needed this month. Removing spent blossoms ("deadheading") may be sufficient, but be sure to also remove all diseased leaves and petals that fall to the ground and do not compost them. Deadheading encourages your roses to rebloom. It is also an opportunity to gently shape the plant, strengthening the lower cane and the root system. A good rule of thumb when deadheading is to follow the stem down from the spent blossom to the first five-part leaf whose bud faces outward. Pruning here will cause the new branch to grow away from the center of the plant. If you feel this point is too high to give a good shape, don't be afraid to drop down to a lower, outward-facing leaf. When the bush is deadheaded, water and feed.
Continue to feed your garden; you can get by with a one-time application for the month, but I recommend two feedings with just a little less per application. It's always best to make sure your roses are well watered the day at least the day before applying any food, especially if you use inorganic products which can burn.
Keep up any spraying program you have been using or, if you don't have a program, do an inspection at least once a week for any diseases or insects. With most sprayed treatments, it's better to do it well before (or after) the heat of the day to avoid burning the foliage.
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