Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
October, 2010
Regional Report

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This Peace rose is still going strong and shows off its handsome blooms in the cool of autumn.

My Autumn Roses

Now that autumn has arrived, most of the surviving rose bushes have made up for the lagging spring and summer months with some really nice late blooms.

You can keep your roses blooming well into the early autumn by maintaining moisture in the beds, but not overwatering. Deeply soaking the roses once a week should keep them going until a hard frost wipes out the buds. My preference is to water early in the day so the foliage dries by nightfall. This will reduce the incidence of powdery mildew disease in your rose garden.

If, however, you are already experiencing mildew, don't fret. I've used an old-fashioned homemade remedy passed along to me by my Italian grandmother. You mix 1 to 2 tablespoons baking soda plus 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap into 1 gallon of warm water. Spray it on the foliage with a hand-held sprayer or a pressurized tank sprayer. It really does reduce the incidence of this late summer and fall foliage disease.

Now is also an important time to get the rose garden ready for its winter nap. To help your roses get off to a good start next spring, send them into winter in good shape. Be sure to hoe or pull out weeds that have invaded the rose garden. This reduces the dispersal of weed seeds into the rose garden. Begin to stockpile mulching materials to apply around the roses later in the season. Mow over your hardwood leaves as they fall and save them in bags to pile over your tender roses once the ground freezes.

When that time comes, usually around Thanksgiving or later, here's a tip from a noted local rosarian. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of "flowers of sulfur" and a half-cup of a slow-release 5-10-5 garden fertilizer around the roots of each rose bush before applying winter protection. This will accomplish several things: sanitizing, lowering soil pH, and supplying nutrients to the roots.

If you like to create fall and winter arrangements with fresh materials from your garden, save colorful rose hips. Cut some rose hips after they turn orange or red for indoor decorations. Place cut stem ends in glycerin water (1 part glycerin to 3 parts water), and allow the cuttings to absorb the solution. They can be used to create colorful autumn and winter displays.

As long as the weather remains mild, roses will keep on blooming until a really hard frost. Take time to enjoy the show and make preparations to ready the rose garden for the cold months ahead.

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