Friday, July 3, 2015


Roses can be finicky plants, but you can maximize the blooming potential of your roses by following the basic tenets of rose culture and maintenance. Here are six ways to get more rose blossoms for your flower arrangements.
Old wooden park bench surrounded by beautiful rose bushes. - Andreas Kaspar/E+/Getty Images
Andreas Kaspar/E+/Getty Images

1.  Before You Plant

You can affect the future blossoms of your rose bush before the plant even goes in the ground. Pamper your roses by placing them in a garden spot that is:
  • Well-draining: Test the future garden site of your rose bush by digging an 18-inch hole and filling it with water. If the water hasn’t drained away after two hours, consider building a raised bed or choosing a different site.
  • Sunny at least six hours a day: Roses need direct sun to generate the energy necessary for abundant blooms. Diseases and pests plague roses weakened by shady conditions.
  • Amended with compost and peat moss: Excavate an 18-by-18 inch-planting hole, and backfill the hole with a mix of 50% garden soil and 50% compost and peat moss. This lightweight soil blend encourages the development of feeder roots.
 - Photo © Flickr user Yamada
Graham Thomas Rose. Photo © Flickr user Yamada

2.  Plant Reblooming Rose Varieties

Gardeners seek out heirloom roses for their hardiness and renowned fragrance, but old rose varieties don’t rebloom as reliably as their descendants. Top choices for roses that rebloom profusely throughout the growing season include:
  • Bright Melody: A red shrub rose
  • Carefree Delight: Hardy and low maintenance
  • Danae: Very fragrant
  • Fairy Moss: A miniature choice
  • Graham Thomas: A climber with peony-like blossoms
  • Knock Out: Available in red, pink, and yellow
 - Photo © Rhonda Fleming Hayes
Roses form hips that contain seeds. Photo © Rhonda Fleming Hayes

3.  Deadhead Rose Bushes

Letting roses form hips, which contain seeds, is a signal to the rose bush that the growing season is finished. Removing spent blossoms signal the plant to produce more blooms in its effort to make seeds. Cut the spent bloom back to the first cluster of five leaves to keep the plant bushy and compact.
 - Photo © Ryan Snyder
Powdery mildew is common in humid weather. Photo © Ryan Snyder

4.  Disease Control

Black spot and mildew do more than disfigure rose bush leaves and cause leaf drop: these diseases weaken the entire plant, taking away the energy needed to produce bountiful blooms. As the season progresses, and temperatures and humidity increase, most roses will experience some signs of disease. Control disease by:
  • Spraying at the first sign of disease
  • Keeping leaves dry
  • Removing dead or diseased foliage
  • Controlling pests like aphids that spread disease
 - Photo © Flickr user Mezuni
Aphids abound in springtime. Photo © Flickr user Mezuni 
Organic Rose Disease Control
Black spot and powdery mildew are the two most common diseases that plague rose gardeners. Experienced organic gardeners expect to deal with these diseases at some point in the plant’s lifetime, and practice preventative measures as the first line of defense.
Black spot appears as blackened patches on the leaves surrounded by yellowish margins. The disease spreads quickly, and can defoliate an entire rose bush in a matter of weeks. Utilize proper pruning methods to improve air circulation in the rose plant. Clean pruners with rubbing alcohol between rose plants to prevent spreading disease. Apply an organic sulfur spray to the tops and bottoms of leaves. Gardeners must remove and destroy any affected leaves, especially leaves that remain on the ground at the end of the growing season, harboring spores that renew the disease cycle the following spring.
Powdery mildew is common in humid conditions or after prolonged periods of rain. Therefore, the gardener must prevent overhead watering that permits fungal spores to spread from leaf to leaf. Does baking soda kill rose fungus? Baking soda can alter the pH of foliage surfaces to an inhospitable level for fungi. Combine a tablespoon of baking soda with a gallon of water, and add two tablespoons of light horticultural oil to help the spray adhere to the foliage. Apply two times a month during the growing season. Organic sprays or powders containing copper or sulfur can also control mildew in roses, but consider replacing a rose plant plagued with disease with a hardier variety.

5.  Pest Management

Pests decrease the bloom count on roses in two ways: by weakening plants, and by eating the blossoms themselves. A systemic pesticide, like acephate, protects tender new growth from aphids, mites, thrips, and whiteflies. Organic options like neem oil or insecticidal soap are options for rose bushes adjacent to vegetable gardens.
 - Photo © Quinn Dombrowski
Keep the rosebuds coming with regular fertilizing. Photo © Quinn Dombrowski

6.  Rose Fertilizers

Roses are heavy feeders, and roses that bloom throughout the season need at least three fertilizer applications. A balanced, 10-10-10 fertilizer provides nitrogen for healthy foliage, phosphorus for vigorous roots, and potassium to promote blossom formation.
You should apply the first fertilizer application as the plants begin to break out of winter dormancy. Two more applications in mid-June and mid-July keep the flower show going. Stop fertilizing in August to allow the plants to prepare for dormancy.

Organic Rose Fertilizer
Roses are heavy feeders, so the compost application that satisfies most other perennials in the organic garden won’t be enough to fertilize the high-performing rose bush.
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Fishmeal, dried blood, and cottonseed meal are two excellent sources of nitrogen for roses, ensuring healthy leaf production. An application of bone meal at planting time provides phosphorus for root growth. Finally, greensand and phosphate rock help ever blooming roses keep up the flower show.


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