The Citizen (KZN)

Still a booming good time of year

AUTUMN: YOU CAN KEEP YOUR ROSES FLOWERING

- Ludwig Taschner

Dead heading will encourage new growth.

The active growing season for roses is coming to an end, as they slowly become dormant in preparatio­n for winter. The flowering, however, doesn’t have to stop. The secret is to fertilize one last time in April with Vigorosa. This provides enough nutrition for the rose to keep on flowering while at the same storing food in the stems for sprouting in spring.

Although the autumn days are shorter, the light is still bright enough for the roses to flower, unlike autumn in the frosty northern hemisphere.

HEALTHY LEAVES

Roses which are covered with healthy leaves can flower through to July, especially if the winter is mild.

There are a growing number of rose varieties with disease-resistant leaves and these sail through April, May and June.

But there are still roses that are susceptibl­e to black spot, a fungus that causes the leaves to drop. Black spot is more prevalent in autumn because of the heavier dew on the leaves, exacerbate­d by short rain showers.

All that’s required is to spray fortnightl­y with a fungicide like Chronos mixed with Ludwig’s insect spray for controllin­g aphids and other small sucking insects. Another option is to spray with Rose Protector.

Keep on dead heading the roses, especially the varieties with firm petals that do not drop off as they age. Dead heading keeps the rose bushes looking neat and it also encourages new growth. The more often it is done, the more the rose is encouraged to flower continuous­ly.

WISE WATERING

Watering can be reduced to once a week, with a deep watering for 40 to 60 minutes.

I recently visited a garden in Clubview, Centurion, to find out why roses that had performed magnificen­tly last year are now suffering. Watering involved switching on the irrigation system, with mini sprinklers, three times a week for 20 minutes.

To test, we placed a sprinkler in a bucket and switched on the system. It collected nine litres of water in 20 minutes.

With good rains in between during summer, this would just about do, but without rainfall, the water only penetrates to about 30cm. This prompts the main rose roots to grow upwards in search of water but being closer to the surface they dry out quickly.

My advice was to rather keep the irrigation system running once a week for an hour.

POTS OF PICKABLE ROSES

There is nothing nicer than having enough blooms to pick for the home, especially in autumn when blooms are bigger, more colourful and last longer in the vase.

Should space be tight or the garden conditions not be right for roses, consider growing some picking roses in pots in a sunny position.

The most suitable hybrid tea varieties are those that produce many stems with smaller, yet perfect blooms rather than those with large blooms on a single stem.

The pots should be at least 30 to 40cm in diameter and deep enough for good root developmen­t. Small, shallow pots dry out too quickly, especially in summer.

The rose that immediatel­y comes to mind is Esther Geldenhuys, which was introduced in 1987 and is still a winner. It produces an abundance of perfectly shaped coral pink blooms that are long lasting on the bush and in the vase.

Over the years, it has given rise to new mutations that have the same growth habit and flowering ability but in different colours.

There is Lisa (dark pink), Nicolette (light pink), Leana (creamy white) and Vanessa (red). For lovers of orange roses there is Vera Johns.

Sheila’s Perfume says it all, a strongly fragrant medium-sized bloom with tones of red, cream and yellow in the petals.

info

For more informatio­n visit: www.ludwigsros­es.co.za

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