Roses are Getting
Ready for an Encore
By MG Calla Victoria
Roses will be putting on their next blooms in November, so to ensure a big show of color then we must prepare now.
First up, give your rose bushes a good pruning; prune them back at least 50%. Roses bloom on new wood, so a good haircut now will result in a ton of blooms next month. If you have only one or two bushes, by all means use pruners. However if you have lots of bushes, a hedge trimmer makes the work easy. Also now is the time to fertilize your rose bushes as they will be in a growth phase from now until the bloom time; so feed, feed, and feed. There are many good store-bought rose fertilizers to choose from, but Epsom salts is great, cheap, readily available, and will do wonders for your rose bushes.
If you want to buy some rose bushes consider old garden roses. Many are repeat bloomers, easy to care for, and wonderfully fragrant. If you have an old shade that needs camouflage, have simply run out of garden real-estate, or have privacy concerns by all means consider climbing roses. They make beautiful privacy hedges along an otherwise lack-luster stretch of fencing, and the thorns are a great deterrent to would-be intruders. No more space to plant? Go vertical with climbing roses on arches as an entry to your garden. Are you annoyed by unsightly structures peeking in from your neighbor’s yard? Camouflage the intruding structure with climbing roses.
Unlike other climbing vines that have tendrils that grab onto things or grow with a natural twist to hold on to objects, know that roses have to be trained to climb. There is some trellising and tying that must go hand-in-hand with training climbing roses to climb, but well worth the work. It is a good idea to plant an evergreen climber like star jasmine along with your climbing rose bush. That way when all the leaves have fallen off the rose bush for the winter, you are not stuck with just dry ugly branches. The star jasmine will use those branches as a trellis and climb up and cover the rose bush’s nakedness with a carpet of lush glossy green foliage, therefore you garden will still look spectacular in the winter.
Ground cover (carpet) roses planted between your upright bushes make a beautiful statement. Also lavender is an excellent companion plant to your rose bushes. They smell amazing and are a wonderful herb for the kitchen, or dried as potpourri. If you have no luck with roses, chances are you are giving them too much water. Most roses prefer dry (well-drained) soil. The Peggy Martin climbing rose bush is the exception to that rule. Peggy loves water, in fact you cannot over water this rose bush. It is the only rose to survive in the six feet of water that sat in the New Orleans Botanical Garden's massive rose garden after Hurricane Katrina.
The Fall Garden Festival at the New Orleans Botanical Garden, this weekend, is a great place to pick up your roses and other plant material at a good price, as well as some good food, music, arts and crafts, cooking demos, and gardening workshops.
Check out my “Gardening Tip of the Week” on my "Tips" page.
Remember, never get too busy to stop and enjoy the beautiful flowers!