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By Frank Brines
Master Consulting Rosarian 

Rose Care FUNdamentals for March


Last updated 3/4/2020 at 12:11am

Frank Brines,

Special to Valley News

Location, Location, Location. Depending on your location – or more specifically, that of your garden – you may have experienced frost damage to your roses and tender young plants recently. Even gardens in the same general vicinity may have different effects due to their prevailing microclimates.

Lately the temperatures have risen in the Temecula Valley which encourages roses to jump into life. They enjoy this weather. All areas of Southern California have had above average rainfall. It is comforting that all of this rain will flush excess salts that may have built up from irrigating and fertilizing. A regular schedule for irrigating should already have begun. Roses do love food and water for the best blooms.

If your roses experienced fungal diseases last year and you haven’t yet done so, you might think of applying a lime sulfur dormant spray soon. You can mix horticultural oil with the dormant spray for better adherence. First, make sure the garden is free of left-over debris and to dispose it in the green garden waste bin – do not compost rose debris in your yard. Also, remove all old leaves that may be left on the bush. This cleanliness will help keep down disease. Read the dormant spray label completely to ensure the proper strength of the mixture for “growing season instructions” as the new growth has begun. Be sure to saturate all canes and the soil surface of the entire bed. Maintain a minimum of 2-4 inches of organic composted mulch over the entire garden surface to insulate the upper 8-12 inches of the soil zone where most rose roots feed and to reduce evaporation and conserve water, while still providing sufficient moisture. This treatment will also supply nutrients to build the soil for your roses over the season.

If you have space available and haven’t yet purchased new roses, you can still do so and might find some great offers. Over the past several years, there has been a drop in the number of new varieties introduced into the market and commercial rose production has dropped, so there is less of a selection at fewer outlets. Some nurseries are still shipping to this area. Plants already in pots are the best to buy as they will be far easier to transplant and will establish themselves quicker. Look for those with three to five major canes.

Take time now to inspect and make any necessary repairs to your irrigation system. Drip systems are the most efficient and they avoid problems created by above-ground sprayers and sprinklers, which waste water and can foster molds, mildew and rust. If possible, avoid any overspray or misting applied elsewhere in your garden that may hit your roses; but if you do use overhead watering systems, avoid doing so when there is any wind to avoid moisture evaporating or collecting on leaves which could result is sun burn or add to conditions favorable for fungal diseases. For best results and efficiency, be sure to time the irrigation so it is complete before the day gets hot – preferably by midmorning, that is, around 8-9 a.m. Avoiding daytime watering prevents excess ground moisture into nighttime. Too wet soil can lead to unhappy roots or fungal diseases.

Now would be the time to sprinkle 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Epsom salts widely around each rose bush; use half as much for minis and mini-floras. There is some indication that this feeding helps stimulate new cane growths known as “basal breaks” at the “bud union,” the big part next to the ground where grafting was done.

You can begin fertilizing when new growth is 2-3 inches long. I suggest an initial feeding each year be higher in nitrogen (N) to encourage new stem and leaf growth. In about two weeks, apply fertilizer that is higher in phosphate (P) and potassium (K) to give roots a boost at start of season. New information suggests that continued use of fertilizer higher in P and K will foster greater root development and lead to better growth, resistance and healthier plants. Look for fertilizers rated as 8-10-8 that include micro elements for greater results. I highly recommend organic type fertilizers versus inorganic or “chemical” ones. Organics foster better soil development, a richer, livelier, more viable community of soil organisms that break the elements into easily absorbed form and release them slowly. They will “build” soil structure into a healthy component and when used regularly will develop a soil rich in reserve energy, allowing you to use less product with the same results.

There are rose events coming up which you may find of interest. The Pacific Southwest District Rose Show and Convention is April 24-26, at the Los Angeles Arboretum, 700 W. Huntington Drive, in Monrovia. The San Diego Rose Society rose show is May 2-3, 195 E. Douglas Ave., at the El Cajon Community Center. Plan to attend and experience seeing the blooms of your favorite roses or to research possible new additions to your garden. Entry applications for garden show at the San Diego Fair are now being accepted. Inquire

Be sure to visit the Rose Haven Heritage Garden located at 30500 Jedediah Smith Road in Temecula. The cross street is Cabrillo Avenue. The 3.4-acre rose garden is owned and maintained by the Temecula Valley Rose Society, a nonprofit organization supported with donations. Look for the donation box when you visit. Thank you so much. Also, visit the website at regularly for great information and schedule of events.

Spread the joy of roses.


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