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Stressed roses, or why should I bother with more?


By Raquel


I do love roses, even the miniature ones I have, but right now they’re so stressed that I’m wondering whether they will survive – they have been attacked by what looks like black ants that especially like chomping on the buds and the flowers – if the buds actually open, they’re already infected! My beautiful red rose was about to give me a ton of flowers when the whole thing got ruined by these stupid insects. The one most affected is the red rose, the white one seems more affected by what I still think is powdery mildew, but it is more in control now. And the yellow rose as well. I have sprayed them with organic sprays and with commercial ones, and so far neither seems to have done much. I’m afraid to spray them too much, as I figure they might die. So at the moment I’m leaving them alone, watering them, fertilizing them and seeing if they re-bound. I also plan to put mashed up garlic around the base of the plants (hey, it couldn’t possibly hurt!). I would love to buy more roses, especially when I see them in the store, but this reminds me why I don’t! They really take an amazing amount of work. Yet when they bloom, it’s such a reward, because they’re so beautiful. My friends David and Kathy Van Hemel gave me a book, Passion for Roses, by Peter Beales, and looking at the gorgeous pictures is enough to make me drool and wish for a very large garden and tons of roses…I would especially love a trellis so I could have climbing roses…sigh…but the reality is , I think, that a lot of roses are not very hardy, especially hybrids. If I had a garden, I would definitely go for the older varieties. Less flashy, maybe, but hardier. Of course it didn’t help that when I first started I clustered all my roses together, thus creating a monoculture that made them exceedingly susceptible to disease and pests…what one got, they all did..I used to have four roses, one was a beautiful shade of sunset pink and orange, but it was attacked by something and never recovered. My mother, of course, avoids monocultures by planting her roses in between other plants. Yet the hardiest of her roses is a very simple one, it’s white, and the buds have a tinge of pink; she told me it came from one of my grandfather’s farms (at one point he had two, a loooong time ago, he died in 1969). She called it a “wild rose” though I wonder if it is truly wild or indigenous to El Salvador. It seems unlikely, yet I suppose it could be. I don’t know enough about roses or Salvadoran flora to figure that one out! The roses I don’t like, because it seems to me that they take all the work out of- and thus the satisfaction – of growing roses – are the ‘Knock-out’ roses – they are ever blooming, are very heat resistant and pest resistant and just keep going and going…they seem a bit unreal to me, and of course have become tremendously popular in Houston…I have to say I’d rather have less roses, and even struggle with them and pull my hair out when I can figure what’s wrong with them, than roses I don’t have to have anything to do with! =)

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I too hate to use too many commercial sparys on my roses. I want to suggest that you try using mouthwash and water, equal parts to spray on your roses. Insects do not like it and it will not hurt your plants. Another suggestion I have for stressed roses is Epsom Salts. One teaspoon to a gallon of water. Give each bush a gallon of this mixture. Roses love this. It promotes healthy green leaves and flowers. I usually give my roses a gallon of this mixture at least three times during the growing seasons. We have what your mother called a wild rose growing every where in our woods here in the North East. Many of them grow to thirty to forty feet up into the trees. I love the small white flowers with a tinge of pink. I have a couple in my garden that I dug out of the woods when I moved into my house five years ago and one now covers about fiftenn feet of the fence in each direction. The other is on a pole of one of my birdhouses. After they bloom I have to clip them back at least twice during the rest of the summer. They are very vigorous growers. Good luck with your roses and do try the Epsom Salts. I think that you will be very pleased with the results.

27 Apr, 2008


Thanks so much Mikec! I will definitely try the espsom salts and the mouthwash and water (I had never heard of that!). The roses are still alive, but sad-looking. The white one seems to be bouncing back, though. so there's hope!

I love that rose - it is very pretty, though it's simple. My mother's is also pretty vigorous, though it doesn't seem to go up high...but that could be because she prunes it...

What you said about bringing them in from the woods made me laugh - the house where we last lived in Virginia had a backyard that ran into the woods...and my parents once went in and got a young redbud tree from the forest and planted it at the front of the house! I'm pretty sure that in Virginia this was illegal...=) Oh the things we do for love of plants!

29 Apr, 2008

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