Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
August, 2006
Regional Report

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One of my favorite roses, 'Mikado', shows off a late-season bloom.

Roses Provide a Final Burst of Color

As the waning days of September approach, and the chill of autumn is in the morning air, we often take for granted our rose bushes. It's been a busy and very hot summer, and roses may not have been at their best this season. At least in my garden, the bushes just seemed to sulk in the heat.

Now, however, the roses seem to be awakening with another flurry of buds and blooms. And that's a good sign that the plants are responding to cooler weather and better conditions for growth and bloom. So take advantage of the late summer and early fall to enjoy their beauty and aroma.

Fall Tips
While it's still too early to think about protecting roses for the winter, it is time to follow some general guidelines to help your roses prepare and harden off before the real cold arrives.

1. Count back six weeks from the first fall frost in your area. Knowing this date is very helpful as it is a guideline to help you in some general rose care. In my area, the first autumn frost can occur from mid to late October. So counting back six weeks, to around September 1st reminds me to stop fertilizing my rose garden by that date. In doing so, I will help condition my rose bushes to cease producing lots of new growth. New growth is a no-no late in the season as it is very vulnerable to frost damage. Not only will the frost damage the new growth, but the drying winds and sudden temperature fluctuations can stress the rose bushes.

2. Continue to water roses throughout the late summer and early autumn. Though the plants will naturally start to slow down with shorter days and cooler temperatures, let's face it, roses are thirsty shrubs. Deep watering is essential for good root development and carbohydrate storage before winter. So water more deeply and less frequently. This prepares the bushes for a possible dry winter season.

3. Avoid transplanting established roses to new locations in your landscape unless it is absolutely necessary. If you must, prepare the soil in the new location with a generous supply of compost and peat (30 to 40 percent by volume). Then dig up the plant with at least 15 to 18 inches of soil around the rootball. Set at the same depth it was originally growing, mound the soil around the crown, and water well. Continue to water as the soil dries out between waterings. Please, don't waterlog a newly transplanted rose bush.

4. You can still plant container-grown roses that are available now at discounted prices. They need to be planted before the ground freezes so they can acclimate before it really gets cold. Follow the same guidelines above in preparing the new planting site.

Enjoy the blooms of roses from now until frost. It is a very special treat to greet the day with the fragrance of rose blossoms from your own garden.

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