Roses. One of the most beautiful flowers in the world. Roses are symbolic of so many emotions. Different colors represent different sentiments.
It’s that time of year around the greater Seattle/Everett region. If you have not done so yet, it is time to prune back your roses by about 2/3rd, leaving the healthiest canes. Prune off dead or crowded canes so that air will circulate into the center of each plant to minimize fungus.
I am an advocate of organic gardening. Organic rose gardening places great emphasis on using natural methods to grow roses and control pests, rather than using man made or synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. Organic gardening is much safer for your children and pets, as they are less likely to come into contact with hazardous gardening products.
The first step in organic rose gardening starts when you prepare the soil prior to planting your roses. Instead of using industrially prepared fertilizers you should use naturally occurring products. For example, bone meal is a good source of phosphorus which is essential for promoting healthy roots and large abundant blooms. Other essential nutrients are released by tiny micro-organisms that live in the soil and break down dead plant matter. This plant matter can be provided by adding compost to the soil mix you use when planting your roses.
Every April I drag out my clean 32 gallon garbage can that has a tight fitting lid. I prepare my magic potion for my roses and I thought I would share the recipe with you. It will produce amazing results and give your roses the jump start they need and deserve:
SPRING ROSE TONIC
The American Rose Society recommends this tea as it releases a growth hormone that produces a healthier rose bush. To make the tea, add 10-12 cups of alfalfa meal to your 32 gallon garbage can, fill with water and then add 2 cups of Epsom salts (Magnesium Sulfate) and 1/2 cup chelated iron. Stir with a long stick or broom handle. Cover the can and stir each day. The tonic will begin to smell in about 3-6 days (depending on the weather and temperature). Once it smells, it is time to use. I get a plastic bucket and fill it for each of my roses. The recommended dose is 1/3 gallon on miniature roses and 1 gallon on large roses. One load of alfalfa meal will make 2 barrels, but add the iron and salt again.
With organic rose gardening it is even possible to make organic fungicides. For example, a 50/50 solution of milk and water will control powdery mildew. Another popular anti-fungal treatment is a mix known as the Cornell Formula. Every organic gardener has their own recipe, but they are all variations of mixing one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of horticultural oil with one gallon of water, which should be sprayed onto your rose plants every seven to ten days.
Make sure to use clean sharp pruners for spring pruning and for cutting during the season. Clean up any diseased leaves from around the base of the roses and feed your roses each month during the summer months with a natural rose food. I stop feeding my roses in September so that they can prepare for winter. After the season has ended, I remove all leaves from my roses and I do a fall prune of about 1/4-1/3rd of the rose. This needs to be done before a hard frost.
By giving your roses lots of love, you will have the most beautiful and happy roses in your neighborhood!!