Originally created 05/12/00

A rose is a rose



When your roses are drooping, turning brown or loosing leaves or buds, they are not laughing at you. They are begging for the meticulous attention they require to be robust beautiful blooming bushes.

Roses need specific attention and are definitely high maintenance plants.

"Roses are just work," said Hiawatha McGlone, a hobby gardener from Augusta. "You always have something to do."

According to Mrs. McGlone, there is always watering, pruning, spraying or feeding to do, especially during the hot summers here.

"They need daily attention," said Mrs. McGlone, "so you have to like doing it. I really enjoy doing the yard."

Roses are just one of the perennials in combination with day lilies and daisies as well as peach and dogwood trees that fill her front yard. She designed it so there is something in bloom year round.

Rose cultivation is as much about learning to care for them properly as it is actually doing the work. Following a few simple steps each week could keep your roses healthy and beautiful.

According to Bill Wiseman, master gardener, consulting rosarian and member of the Augusta Rose Society, most any rose will thrive in the Augusta area, if given the proper care. The Augusta Rose Society distributes the Handbook for Selecting Roses to its members rating the exhibition quality of all rose types.

When purchasing a rose without the use of the rating book, look for a healthy green plant with healthy canes, or stems.

Bare-root or container plants are the best option when choosing rose plants. "Even those you see that are in pots are really bare-roots," said Mr. Wiseman. "They have only been in those pots a couple of weeks."

The site you select for your roses must receive at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Roses are sun-worshippers.

When planting, the hole should measure 18 inches in diameter and 18 inches deep. The roots need plenty of room to spread out and grow. If you are planting in a container, use at least a seven or eight gallon pot.

Don't skimp on the size of the planting hole if you want a bountiful rose. "The old story is don't put a $10 bush in a 20 cent hole," said Mr. Wiseman.

Soak roots for a few hours before planting to saturate. Prune the tip of each root to help encourage more rapid root growth.

Prepare the soil by mixing some fertilizer, lime and organic matter into the topsoil.

Raise the bud union, the large knot where the root stock is budded to the upper part of the plant, to ground level. The roots should spread out in the hole. Working quickly to avoid dehydration, alternately add a thick layer of the soil mixture then water thoroughly until the hole is filled around the rose.

New rose bushes need to be watered two to three times a week to receive at least a couple of gallons of water to each plant.

"Typically, they say a little water every day is not as good as one big dose two or three times a week," Mr. Wiseman said. This watering method promoted deep root growth and a more drought-resistant plant.

Fertilize your plants once a month with a granular time-release fertilizer. According to Mr. Wiseman, roses are heavy feeders so it is difficult to over-fertilize them. Organic fertilizers are available.

Roses are susceptible to diseases like black-spot and powdery mildew. Plenty of air circulation in and between your plants will help avoid this, but regular spraying of fungicides is essential.

"The only discipline you have to exercise is to spray every seven to 10 days,` said Mr. Wiseman. Fungicides like Funginex or Bannermax are the best options. Preventative measures are the best and by far the easiest way to deal with rose diseases.

In addition to spraying, regular pruning will help keep the rose disease resistant by keeping good air circulation.

Deadheading, pulling off completed or dead blooms, helps keep your rose blooming.

"Typically, prune out the twiggy growth," Mr. Wiseman said. "You just clean them up really. There's no trick to it.

Canes that grow through or across the center of the plant should be pruned away. Dead, diseased or non-productive wood should also be removed.

The lighter-colored roses attract thrips, a common rose pest. Evidence of these pests are obvious with browning and dying buds and blooms.

If you notice thrip damage, use an insecticide such as Orthene in a mister and spray the bud or bloom directly. Mr. Wiseman does not recommend incorporating a pesticide in the regular spraying mix because some insects are beneficial. Insecticide will kill all insects which is why you want to spray the bud directly.

Rose growing is not as complicated as commonly thought. Roses do require specific types of attention, but that does not necessarily take a lot of time.

Mr. Wiseman has approximately 100 plants and spends only three to four hours a week tending them. He has an automatic watering system to save time and energy.

"You work on it every day," said Mrs. McGlone who has ten roses lining the front of her yard on Glenn Hills Drive.

"Everybody stops," Mrs. McGlone said. "Sometimes they leave me little notes or little boxes of rose food. That's real nice."

If you need help with your roses, the Augusta Rose Society has a group of consulting rosarians to provide additional information or assistance. They will provide an on-site inspection if requested and needed. For more information about the Augusta Rose society, contact Pat Wiseman at (706) 733-9597.

Growing roses

There are six steps to growing roses that will thrive:

1. Provide at least six hours of direct sunlight a day.

2. Water deeply two or three times a week.

3. Fertilize once a month.

4. Spray every seven to 10 days.

5. Prune regularly to keep good air flow.

6. Keep watch for thrips and other insect pests.

Reach Valerie McIntosh at (706) 823-3351 or newsroom@augustachronicle.com.