Looking towards and planning for the future.
Along with preparing your roses for their dormancy season, you may want to consider some of the following:
Preparation of new rose beds for planting next spring
Early through mid-fall can be a good time to prepare or enlarge a rose bed for planting roses next spring. Ideally, for easy care, rose beds 4’ wide and usually 8’ or 16’ long work out well. The four feet width permits easy access from both sides without compacting the soil and ease to apply winter protection in late fall.
Goals in building beds for roses and other plantings
- Ending up with a surface that is level so that water from soaker hoses or rain does not just run off.
- Digging down 20 to 25 inches below the eventual top of the bed to provide a good organic base for the future root development of plantings. This is easier than trying to improve the soil later.
- Removing trees and their roots, rocks, etc. that would adversely affect the future growth of roses.
- Having a bed that is aesthetically attractive and utilizing what nature provides to minimize other expenses.
Preparation of rose beds
First decide whether you would like ground level, raised or terraced beds. By preparing the rose beds in the fall, you can reduce the cost of buying peat moss, well rotted manure, compost, or other organic material by gradually building 3 to 4 inch layers of leaves (other than oak tree leaves) and covering with a couple of inches of soil each time. Spread a handful of 10-10-10 or other garden fertilizer and soak thoroughly. Repeat process for a total of 3 to 4 layers. Let settle for a week or so. Then repeat process. Repeat soaking every few days if you do not have heavy rains. By next spring, you should have well composted, easy to work soil for planting your roses.
Upgrading Your Gardening Equipment and Supplies – Gift to Yourself or from Others
Take a look around and see if some of your tools could stand to be replaced or if there is something that you have wished for but has not been within your budget. Watch for sales during October and November for gardening gloves, sprayers, trowels, respirators, goggles, trowels, loppers, etc. that can be purchased for a fraction of what they may have cost in the spring. You may be able to pick up a “gift” for yourself or let others know what you might enjoy as a gift during the coming holiday season.
Dreaming about what roses you would like for another year.
Although the number of mail order nurseries that sell retail has declined, there are still some that do so. Take a look at those advertising in the American Rose magazine or on the Internet to see if they have a catalog that you can look over and dream about roses during the winter months to come. When you find something that appeals to you, compare its rating to that in the ARS Handbook for Selecting Roses. If the rating is at least 7.5 but preferably 8.0 or higher, it may be worth considering for your future rose garden plantings.
Planning, Preparation, Planting, Pruning, Preserving & Protecting
Six General Categories of Growing, Enjoying and Sharing Roses
Whether you are in the “thinking about it” stage, or, have already tipped your toe into this hobby, or you have been at it for a while, below is a condensed review of things to consider as you go forward. The above have been organized into six groups with some of the categories overlapping each other.
Location. For best results, roses need at least six hours of sun per day during their growing season, with morning, early afternoon, and late day sun being preferred by some of the darker red varieties. If planning is being done during the winter, observe how the shadows shift as you approach spring. And look up at nearby trees and consider any additional tree plantings. Tree roots can easily grow far beyond the tree drip line, robbing your roses of vital moisture and nutrients. And a five foot tree now could be 20 or 25 feet tall in a few years, casting unplanned shadows on your roses.
What is the goal of your rose plantings? If formal rose beds, making them four feet wide is ideal to care for and to limit compacting the soil. Dig down 20 to 25 inches from the top of the bed for full size roses and 18 to 20 inches for miniatures and other shorter type roses. Upgrading or replacing the existing soil with compostable or other soil amendments will give your plantings a successful start. Make sure these beds are level and have adequate drainage. Roses love water but do not like wet feet. Have soil tested to at least check out the pH levels. If you prefer to grow roses in pots that can be moved about, use at least a 5 gallon pot for full size roses and preferably a 4 gallon pot for miniatures, filling with a moistened soilless mix such as Pro-Mix B when planting. If you have clay or other difficult soils, these pots can be recessed into the ground
Planting bare root roses. For full size roses, dig a hole at least 18” to 20” deep and wide and proportionally smaller for miniatures and similar size roses. Place a small amount of soilless mix, a handful of bone meal and possibly alfalfa pellets in the bottom of the hole. Mix with amended soil and form a soil mound in the bottom of the hole. Prune (see below). Spread the roots over the soil mound with the “bud union” being at least 2” below soil level in colder climates like we have. Half fill the hole with soil and gently pack. Fill rest of hole with water and let soak in. Then fill the rest of hole with soil. Gently pack and add 10 to 12 inches of soil around the canes to reduce moisture loss while the roots are getting established. Leave this in place for 3 or 4 weeks. Do NOT fertilize during this time period. Potted Roses. Totally remove the bush from its container. Otherwise, do about the same as above except mounding of soil around canes is not necessary.
Pruning – Being broadly defined as any form of rose plant alteration.
- Bare root roses. Before planting, nip off the tips of the larger roots and remove any damaged roots or canes.
- Spring pruning. Other than climbers and OGR roses, cut back on a 45 degree angle, ¼ to ½ inch above a live leaf bud eye. Remove crossed canes. Do not leave short 2 or 3 inch stubs. Climbers & OGRs. Remove dead canes only. Spring through fall blooming cycles.
- Exhibiting: Cut back to just above a set of 5 leaves on full size and proportionately less on other types of roses.
- Sharing: Similar but can be on shorter stems.
- Deadheading spent blooms summer through early fall: Cut back to 1st or 2nd leaf set for more blooms but further back for fewer but larger blooms.
- Early through late fall: Stop deadheading and just pull off petals of spent blooms.
- Late fall: Other than climbers and shrubs: Cut back most modern full size roses back to about knee high and miniatures to about 1/3 to ½ their normal height.
Preserving and Protecting
Feeding, Watering, Disease/Insect/Mite Control and Protection. Feeding: Here in the Northeast, apply a granular (i.e. 10-10-10) fertilizer at six week intervals – early May; Father’s Day, and late July. Supplement with a water soluble fertilizer at two week intervals in between these feedings to add micro nutrients. Disease, insect, and spider mite control. Spring and fall when insects and mites are not present: Just spray with an organic or chemical fungicide to control blackspot, powdery mildew, etc. When insects and/or mites appear: Add a compatible insecticide/miticide to your fungicide or use a pre-formulated combined fungicide/insecticide/miticide. Watering: Add at least an inch of water several hours to a full day before fertilizing and/or spraying. If there is not an appreciable rainfall within a couple of days after fertilizing, add another inch of water. And thoroughly soak the soil before the ground freezes hard in the fall. Late fall winter protection. But in late fall before the final soaking, add several inches of soil or some other kind of mulch to modern type roses, tie climbers and shrubs securely, and wrap the climbers in burlap.