Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Rose Care FUNdamentals for August

The weather this past month has been unusually mild. Many of your rose bushes may still be flush with blooms – mine are, although some of them have experienced sun and heat damage from the blast a week or two ago.

This month could still bring back the blast-furnace that we’ve all come to know and love (ha!), so it’s important to allow our roses to enter a short summer dormant period.

It’s easy. Don’t prune or feed during the month of August. This will prevent the roses from putting on tender new growth. We can remove the petals of spent blossoms – leaving the hips on the stems. This signals the plant to slow its metabolism. Withholding fertilizers – especially nitrogen – will also discourage growth.

July and August are two months when mulch is really going to pay off. It is holding and spreading the soil’s moisture and preventing the roots from baking in the hot sun.

If the mulch has gotten a little thin, add enough to a depth of 3- to 4-inches.

I didn’t apply mulch this spring – see? I’m not really perfect! So, my garden is experiencing a real population explosion of weeds.

Get out there in the cool mornings or evenings to remove those, before they go too seed; otherwise, there will be more to fight later and there will be wasted water on the weeds.

Then mulch, if you have the time and energy. If you can’t, then make composted mulch, almost any vegetative matter will work, including grass clippings and pine needles.

Now that Southern California is in the fourth year of drought, with reduced imported water, consider upgrading your garden with a good drip irrigation system. Even if you’re still hand watering, or using some other method, monitor all your roses every day to avoid serious water stress. It’s best to irrigate your roses before the sun gets too high so they have a chance to hydrate before the heat.

Spider mites increase in the summer heat. They are very tiny and hard to see, and they live on the underside of the leaves. Signs of an infestation include leaves that look dried out, grayish green, or transparent. You may feel a little grittiness when you rub an infested leaf gently and you might see some fine webbing.

You can reduce their population by removing all leaves that are on the lower 8 inch of the plant. You may also be able to dislodge them with a strong blast of water to the underside of the lower leaves.

If you are into container gardening, then you might find it difficult to keep the soil moist enough. This can be a problem if the soil has pulled away from the sides of the container. You’ll know this is the problem if water runs out of the pot as soon as you begin watering.

If this is the case, try pressing the soil down all around the inner sides of the pot. This should help keep the water on the full surface of the soil long enough that it will soak down more evenly through the soil. In extreme heat, you might have to water once or twice a day.

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