Rose care for September

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'Bridget' Floribunda Rose. Picture courtesy Ludwigs Roses'Bridget' Floribunda Rose. Picture courtesy Ludwigs RosesOctober is known as “Rose Month” in South Africa, and there is nothing quite as perfect as those very first summer blooms, so if you want your roses to perform well next month, read the article below - it’s time to give your roses some TLC this month.

October is also when many rose festival’s take place in South Africa, like the well-known Bloemfontein Rose Festival, which showcases what the ‘City of Roses’ is all about, and happens every year in October at various locations around Bloemfontein, so if you can, get out and feast your eyes on some beautiful roses.

In warm subtropical regions roses should already be well advanced and need to be fed this month; but in the colder areas of the country, were roses flower at the end of October, fertilising may be delayed until late September.

Gardeners in extremely cold regions often opt to delay pruning their roses until mid-August or even early September, and remember that banksia roses are only pruned when they have finished flowering in spring.

'Alan Tew' Hybrid Tea Rose. Picture courtesy Ludwigs Roses'Alan Tew' Hybrid Tea Rose. Picture courtesy Ludwigs RosesIn all other regions your pruning should be done, except for your banksia roses which are pruned when they have finished flowering in spring. When your roses start growing they must be watered about twice a week - this is especially important in the summer rainfall regions, until the first rains arrive. Water less often, but deeply to encourage healthy root systems, as shallow watering only encourages surface roots.

To prolong that first glorious flush of blooms; “finger pruning” has become the new catch-word in the gardening industry, but this only applies to hybrid tea roses. Simply put, it is the practice of pinching out about one third of the fresh new flowering tips from your plants. These tips are easy to break of gently with your fingers, or using a pruner, and doing so will ensure that the bushes produce a steady supply of roses over a longer period, with better quality blooms. You can also prune some of the other stems back to remove up to three or four leaves.

New basal water shoots have thick reddish stems, and will become the new framework of the rose bush. When they reach about knee height they will need to be pruned to encourage branching, by nipping out the growing tip.

Briar growth must be removed from your rose bushes, and should not be confused with new water shoots. Brair grows out from the rootstock of Hybrid Tea Roses from just below the graft, and is a light green colour, with smaller leaves. Do not cut them off or they will just grow again - rather tug them off gently at ground level when they reach about knee height.

In spring it is important to feed your roses with a balanced fertiliser that is high in both nitrogen and potassium, like Vigorosa 5:1:5, or 8:1:6. A high Nitrogen fertiliser like the ones recommended above, together with sufficient water, are very important at this time of the year because you want to encourage lots of healthy green leaves to support the roots of your plants, as well as to protect the delicate stems of roses from sunburn during our hot summer days.

It is said that “prevention is better than cure” and this is especially true with roses, so start spraying yours regularly with an organic fungicide, to prevent powdery mildew and black spot.

'Butterfly Kisses' Floribunda Rose. Picture courtesy Ludwigs Roses'Butterfly Kisses' Floribunda Rose. Picture courtesy Ludwigs RosesBlack Spot is a fungal disease which affects many garden plants and is most noticeable on roses if the humidity is high, and during prolonged wet weather. The spores begin to grow on leaves that have been wet for about eight hours or more, and it seems to start on the lower leaves, and then spreads upwards. The leaves fall off, often leaving the plant with no leaves at all.

Powdery Mildew is a very common garden disease which spreads quickly and can be found on many plants, showing as a fine white powder which can be seen on the buds, stems and leaves. Its development, like black spot, is influenced by humidity, wetness, temperature and wind. On roses planted close together it is most noticeable and also on roses grown in too much shade

To help prevent black spot and powdery mildew, ensure that your roses are spaced correctly to allow for a free flow of air around the leaves, and try to water early, and on hot sunny days, so that the leaves can dry off quickly.

The well-known rose specialist and grower, Ludwig Taschner recommends and sells Chronos 450 for the control of Black Spot and Powdery Mildew. Chronos is specially formulated for roses, and its active ingredients are: Prochloraz zinc complex (imidazole) 530 g/ℓ and Prochloraz equivalent 450 g/ℓ

Margaret Roberts Organic Fungicide is a broad spectrum organic fungicide/bactericide solution for the control of diseases on edible crops, ornamentals, herbs and roses. Because of the waxy nature of rose leaves, a spreader added to the spray will give better coverage. It is registered in RSA for powdery mildew on roses, ornamentals and peas, and its uses include: bacterial leaf spots, anthracnose, damping-off, downy mildew, botrytis rot and many more diseases.

Sprays that contain copper, like Copper Count or Copper Soap are used as a preventative spray and can also be used on vegetable crops. Always add a sticker to the spray mixture to make it more effective.

Biogrow Copper Soap is made by combining a soluble copper fertilizer with a naturally occurring fatty acid. The copper and the fatty acid combine to form a copper salt of the fatty acid, known technically as soap. The copper soap Natural fungicide controls many common diseases using low concentrations of copper, down as low as 90 ppm. The net result is an excellent vegetable, fruit and ornamental fungicide. This natural organic fungicide is used as a preventative spray to control diseases on a wide range of plants. As with most fungicides it acts to protect plants from infection.  Therefore, it is important to have the copper soap on the leaf, flower or fruit before the pathogen is able to cause an infection.  This product will control fungal diseases such as: black spot, powdery and downy mildew on vegetables and ornamentals, rust on ornamentals, early and late blight on potatoes and tomatoes, and Peronospora and downy mildew on grapes.