Great Roses Next Season
Hello fellow Earthlings! Whew, it's getting chilly. That means it is about
that time to start thinking of ways to ensure your rose garden is the envy
of all that see it next spring. As cooler weather prevails and winter
begins to set in our roses require only a tiny bit of our time to prepare
them for a beautiful show when the days get long again. So let's take a
little stroll out to the rose garden and get cracking.
Some of the most important things any gardener can do for their rose garden
are during what is widely considered as their dormant period. It is true
that in most parts of the country roses go completely dormant, lose all of
their foliage, and may require some kind of protection from cold weather.
In warmer climates, roses need to be encouraged to rest. This rest period
allows we gardeners to do a couple of things that will give our roses a
head start on growth in the spring and ensure that the essential minerals
these fast growing plants require when the weather warms up. Many minerals
are not provided in sufficient amounts if provided at all in most
commercially available rose foods. This leaves only the soil to provide
them. After a season of rapid growth and incredible blooms the soil is
mined out of many of these minerals. If they are not replenished, the soil
in the rose garden will slowly decline in quality and so will the quality
of your roses. So it is at this time of year, when our roses are not
actively growing that we can boost the mineral content of our soils.
Soil conditions around the country are as diverse as the colors roses come
in. It is a good thing to know a few basic things about your soil. This
knowledge will certainly make all gardening tasks easier in the future. The
first and most important thing to know about your soil is if it is acidic
or alkaline. This is easily measured and is known as pH, which is a
measurement of hydrogen ions in soil. If the pH in your soil is low (below
6.5) it is considered acidic. If your soil has a high pH (above 7.5) it is
considered to be alkaline. Regionally, soils in areas where frequent summer
rains fall have a tendency to be acidic. Soils in more arid climates have a
tendency to be alkaline. In acidic soils, the use of lime is often
practiced to bring soil pH closer to neutral (7.0) and in more alkaline
soils, sulfur is use for the same purpose. These two minerals play an
important part in soil and plant health.
Liming, the application of calcium carbonate to soil is also a way that
gardeners with acidic soils bring more available calcium to their plants.
Calcium is not normally available in any abundance in acidic soil
conditions. Sulfur applications in alkaline soils not only lowers pH but it
frees up other minerals such as iron for plant use. The addition of
minerals such as calcium and sulfur along with other trace minerals can
really ensure that your roses have sufficient soil minerals available when
they get back to the business of growing. I like to consider all of the
essential minerals that plants need for healthy growth and do my best to
supply adequate quantities of these minerals in the fall or winter
depending on how cold it gets in a particular area. The colder the area the
earlier in the fall I would do this. I have a recipe for mineral
supplementation to the rose garden that works very well in all climates and
will guarantee a great crop of roses next season.
3 parts Lime or Fossilized Kelp (acidic soil)
3 parts Fossilized Kelp or Gypsum (alkaline soils)
1 part Soft Rock Phosphate
1 part Sul-Po-Mag (sulfate of potash magnesia)
I apply this mixture to the soil around each rose in a ring about 12-16
inches from the center of the plant. Use one cup of this mix per rose. For
large climbers and shrub roses, two cups for each plant is suggested. By
putting these minerals on the soil during the time when the roses are
dormant you will be giving the soil ample time to assimilate these
minerals. When your roses are growing these minerals will be fully
available to them. The materials I use are easily found at most garden
centers. Fossilized kelp (Kelzyme) is a new material that supplies abundant
micronutrients and is an amazing substitute for Lime or Gypsum for calcium
supplementation. Kelzyme, until recently has only been available to farmers
and can now be obtained from Organic Resources (760.438.4608 ask for Doug).
I have been using it for several years on roses and have found it to be a
superior material for the natural rose garden.
Once you are done putting down the mineral treatment add a layer of compost
or mulch on top of the soil between 3-4 inches thick and forget about your
roses until pruning time. Your plants require no other feeding until your
first spring fertilization. Next time we will be discussing dormant care of
your deciduous fruit trees. See you in the garden!
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