Ludwig’s rose corner
Rose guru Ludwig Taschner offers finger-pruning tips and tells you how to improve the condition of the soil in your rose beds.
Q: I have agapanthus growing in-between my ‘Knysna’ roses, but the roses tend to suffer from scale and don’t perform very well. Are the agapanthus plants the problem?
Roses find it difficult to compete with other nearby plants that have a shallower root system and grab the food and water before it gets to the roots of the roses. In addition, when the lower leaves of the roses are partially covered by other plants, the lack of light on the leaves reduces photosynthesis and this means that the roots are not being fed by the leaves. They need to spread wider and deeper to find water and nourishment. Dig up the agapanthus and any other plants interfering with the rose; this will automatically loosen the soil, provide aeration and allow the water to penetrate.
Q: My roses flower beautifully in October but never produce the same show during the rest of the season. What do I do?
Finger-pruning hybrid tea and Antico Moderno roses in September will increase their October flowering period and spread out blooming for the rest of the flowering season. Finger-pruning removes the tips of a third of the flowering shoots. This means that out of 15 stems, the tips of five are pinched out. This will also encourage new basal growth, which improves the quantity and quality of blooms. Because the bush doesn’t flower all at once, there’s no temptation to pick all the blooms and this reduces stress on the roots. To pinch, use the thumb and index finger and just snap off the tip. Within a week, the reddish-purplish leaves will mature to green and the uppermost eye will re-sprout. To encourage two new stems to sprout on one stem, pinch off the top three or four leaves.