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.

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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.

‘Knysna’

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