I think our growing season is four weeks behind normal this year. Spring has been a long time coming. First is ‘Louise Odier’ a fragrant old garden rose with repeat bloom. The second is ‘LaFrance’ from 1867. This rose has the designation as being the first Hybrid Tea rose. The third is a scene in my garden that gets ignored a lot because it is a mixed bed.
This has been one late rose growing season in Western Washington. Last year my first bloom was April 20, 2016 and this year we are at least three weeks past that date and my garden is seeing a lot of very tight buds and blind shoots. I went out during a brief dry period to capture a few images to help you understand. Paul Zimmerman wrote the following for Fine Gardening magazine: A blind shoot is a stem that grows and grows but a flower never appears at the end of it. There are a few reasons why this happens. The most common one is a late frost in spring that kills the tiny rose buds before they can fully form. Other causes can be lack of nutrients, shortage of light and tiny midges.
In my garden It could have been late frost or shortage of light this spring. We have broken many records for excess rainfall/lack of sunshine. The rose variety in the photos is ‘Whirlaway’.
I can hardly wait for my presentation on February 25th. I just want to get everyone to try growing America’s flower, the rose. If you choose a variety with known disease resistance, rather than being random or just selecting from what’s available for sale, you will have success. Local rose societies such as Seattle or Tacoma compile lists of recommended disease resistant roses. These lists will be available at my talk. Start with free, local information. Remember that the first year is critical with keeping your plant watered during our June-August drought. Please take few extra reading minutes and read the article I wrote for the January/February West Sound Home and Garden.
Identify the problem with your roses
Before taking any action, be certain that you identify the insect or fungal disease and use the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to a pest free garden. If your roses do not have to be perfect, then you can tolerate a certain amount of insects. If you want exhibition quality roses, then you may have to rely on more chemical control.
Fungal diseases do not go away when no action is taken. Once a leaflet shows disease, it will not go back to the way it was before infection. You can begin by cutting off (not tearing) the infected parts of the bush. If you wait too long, the plant will naturally shed the leaves (defoliate) but in the interim, the fungi spores continue to multiply and blow around your yard.
Below is an example of blackspot
Below is an example of Powdery Mildew
Below are examples of the early infection of Botrytis, also called gray mold
What is your tolerance for insect damage and fungal disease on roses?
It is a personal question and the answer can change depending on the uncontrollable factor of weather or the amount of time you have to devote to roses or your personal philosophy of what is the right way for you to garden.
I prefer to not use insecticides in my garden because I have fruit trees and mason bees that I nurture for pollination of my fruit. When aphids come to visit my roses, I often see ladybugs working on them, but I often get my hose with a medium spray nozzle and blast aphids with water for a few days in a row. The aphids fall to the ground and since they cannot fly, most do not return. If they are not removed, aphids continue to reproduce and damage roses.
If we have a hot dry June and July and I suspect spider mites will be active. Again, get the hose out with a spray nozzle. Spraying water and a slight rubbing of the leaves, especially on the undersides will deter the spider mites. So the word “spray” is not a bad word in my garden. I spray water, I spray liquid seaweed, I have been known to spray chelated iron and products approved for organic gardening.
Fungal diseases can do a lot of damage is a relatively short period of time. Once you see the damage, you cannot return the foliage to perfect again. As soon as a fungal disease shows, it is best to trim off (not tear off) the disease and do what you can to stop it from spreading. Some roses are resistant to fungal disease by hybridization. That is why you may see one or two roses badly defoliated (in a public garden for example) while others in the area stay clean.
The photos are examples of the continuum of possibilities for your rose garden. The amount of time you have to spend in the garden may change from year to year. Do not get discouraged if pests and disease appear. Contact a local Consulting Rosarian for help.
This is the first of four posts to supplement the information that will be presented on February 25th at 2:15- 3:45 in the Rainier Room.
Roses will uptake maximum nutrients when the soil pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. This reading changes in different locations of the garden. Other factors that change pH include use of chemical fertilizer and when the pH is tested, before, during or after the rainy season. West of the Cascades, the native soil tends to be acidic. (East of the Cascades the soil is alkaline) My Kitsap garden beds have had readings on October 2, 2016 between ph 4.5, pH 5.0 and pH 6.2. I applied granulated lime according to directions on the bag after these readings. You may have heard that lime is a slow acting soil amendment. I waited three months, until late December, to find pH in all rose beds to be pH 6.3 and pH 6.6.
I did not think this chart would project very well in the Rainier Room and even if it were projected, it seems to me to be something to study to fully understand.
The excitement is building now that the holidays are behind us. The 2017 Northwest Flower and Garden Show will be here before we realize it. This is the traditional kick off to spring in Seattle. Speakers and vendors crowd the convention center for a jam packed five days of garden glory. I love the display gardens to get inspired for the growing season. This year I will be speaking about roses on Saturday to kick off the the bare root rose growing season. I am so excited I can hardly wait. My program is finished and gets tweeked every week.
Let me start this discussion by pointing out that some roses are protected by plant patents. David Austin roses and many Weeks modern varieties fall in this category. It is illegal to propagate roses with plant patents. The large rose producers need to protect their investments in roses with plant patents. That said, many old garden roses, polyanthas and miniature roses do not have plant patents. Do your research before propagating roses.
I am not into budding onto rootstock, but I have had modest success with starting hardwood cuttings in fall. I credit my success to the continual rain in the Pacific Northwest providing the outdoor moisture. My method is simple: hardwood cuttings, rooting hormone powder and small potting mix filled containers. Roots form within two months but the starts will not be potted up until next summer or fall.
Hardwood cuttings 10/9/16 (left) and hardwood cuttings fall 2015. (Right)
Saturday I was with a group of 18 very good rosarians from the Tacoma Rose Society. A long time member, George Hedger, passed away and formally left his 450 roses to TRS. Decisions were made to have a rose rescue and dig out, wash and pot the best roses for a sale next spring to benefit our beloved Point Defiance Rose Garden, that George so loved. My guess is the crew processed 170 roses.
I love growing roses but there is one thing I love to do more and that is to talk about growing roses in the Pacific Northwest! If you will be anywhere near Seattle on Saturday February 25, 2017, plan to visit the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. This show is the second largest in the USA. At 2:45 in the Rainer Room, I will have a 30 minute segment of a 90 minute talk on roses. The title of my segment will be Growing Roses Sustainably in Western Washington.
This little rose is a polyantha, ‘Marie Pavier’ that is very healthy and fragrant.