by Brian Minter
Roses are now bursting out with buds already showing and even some colour.
However, I am absolutely amazed to hear of aphid problems already on roses and would highly recommend simply washing them off with a gentle flow of water. In terms of sprays, if you wish to stay organic, use Safer’s ‘Trounce’ every ten days as a foliar mist.
To keep mildew and black spot in check, pick off any infected foliage and every ten days, alternate an application of old fashioned garden sulphur with an application of a baking soda solution (eight grams per one litre of water) mixed with a teaspoon of Trounce to act as a spreader-sticker so the spray adheres to the leaves. It works!
There are also organic fungicides now available, like Safer’s ‘Defender’ (which is sulphur).
In spite of roses being slightly acid loving, they love well-rotted manures. Fibrous manures, such as mushroom compost, are dandy and should be applied at least four to six inches deep around your roses. If you covered the bud unions of your roses in winter with bark, sawdust or soil, remove it now and work it into the soil along with the manures.
Roses are heavy feeders. There are many organic and traditional rose foods on the market, but be sure they are rated low nitrogen, high phosphorus and high potash with micronutrients. Roses should be fertilized every two months.
There are some interesting new roses out that are very disease resistant. Bailey’s Nursery has introduced a series of roses, called ‘Easy Elegance,’ that have great hardiness, attractive flower forms, compact size, recurrent blooming habits, and yes, great disease resistance. My top pick of this series is ‘All the Rage’ because of its glossy foliage and ever changing flower colours. Coral buds explode into three- to four-inch apricot semi-double open flowers with yellow centres, and finally mature to vibrant lipstick pink. Growing only 2½-4 feet tall and hardy to zone 4, this shrub rose has a very clean appearance, a rounded form, and great disease resistance. Classified as an everbloomer, it has colour all summer long.
‘Super Hero’ is not overstating this ‘Easy Elegance’ rose which evolved from ‘Rose Hero.’ It’s a good everblooming red with clusters of 2-3 inch hybrid tea shaped blooms that just keep coming all summer long. It grows anywhere from 3-5 feet tall, and its red colour contrasts nicely with its medium to dark satiny foliage which is very disease resistant. Classified as a floribunda, its petal count is an amazing 35-40, which is pretty impressive.
‘Sweet Fragrance’ is a grandiflora with 3-4 inch apricot flowers that just keep coming all summer long. It only grows 2-4 feet tall with its full blooms held high on sturdy stems. It matures to an attractive salmon pink. Initially rated as a zone 5, it is now on trial in zone 4, but with mulching, it should be fine.
It’s hard to imagine that there’s one member of this series that outblooms the others but there is one that never quits because it has sterile flowers that produce no hips, therefore it doesn’t know how to quit blooming. ‘Mystic Fairy,’ with its continuous, massive clusters of three-inch red blooms with pink undertones, is a variety that does great all summer in containers on sunny decks. It’s very disease resistant with rich dark green foliage.
Brian Minter’s column appears throughout the Lower Mainland. Contact him at email@example.com.