Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
April, 2011
Regional Report

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Overhead watering poses no problems for hardy rose varieties.

Early Season Rose Care

The multitude of roses in the garden at Casa Tenenbaum are coming along very nicely. There are no signs of aphid infestation as yet, and several of the plants have even set buds. The climbing 'Fourth of July' at the bottom of the stairs is already blooming! The new growth on most of the plants looks lush and the proper color, no indication of iron deficiency or lack of nitrogen. If I do see evidence of yellowing leaves with green veins, I will add chelated iron when I fertilize next time.

One or two of the new varieties I planted last fall were having issues with fungus disease, black spot and rust, so I pulled them out. No sense in fighting the plants when I have so many more in containers on the deck waiting for garden space. I would think that if you are having the same problems with newly planted roses in your own garden that any reputable nursery would give you a refund. Henry's plants came as freebies from growers and as we all know, not every rose does well in every garden, with the exception of 'Olympiad', my all time favorite rose of choice. It's too early in the season to be bothered with problem roses. If they are diseased now, they are going to be a nothing but a problem all year long. If you kept your receipts, you can usually return the plant to where it was purchased.

The irrigation at Henry's wasn't designed for the current garden configuration and I am not an irrigation specialist. I confess that some of the newly planted roses are not under irrigation at all and will have to be hand watered weekly during the dry season. I don't mind; I like watering, especially if someone is paying me to stand at the end of a hose.

Some of the rose plants are in the direct line of fire from the lawn sprinklers, some sit just on the fringe of the lawn and some are under drip irrigation. Luckily most of the plants that are getting hit by the sprinklers are shrub varieties and resistant to fungus disease. There are a few hybrid teas that seem to be thriving in spite of the overhead water -- they are the garden heroes!

I may have to move the 'Iceberg' climber at the top of the hill because it seems to want more water than it's currently receiving, even after all the rain we had over the winter. Too bad because I wanted it to cover the fence behind the bench. Maybe I can talk Henry into installing it on the drip line in that section.

In the past month I have been working to thin the new growth that is so abundant on the interior of almost all of the plants. A neighborhood deer is helping me prune the yellow grandiflora. I try to keep the center open to facilitate maximum air circulation. Right now the growth is so tender that it just pulls away easily between my fingers. I do, however, recommend wearing gloves for this chore. Just because the new growth is tender and soft doesn't mean that the basic frame of the plant doesn't have 'teeth'. Guiding and encouraging new growth to an outward facing bud will prevent rubbing and crossing branches later in the season.

Also, it's very important to keep sucker growth under control. Anything that grows from below the graft should be cut below the surface of the soil, if necessary. Suckers rob nutrients from the desired scion and don't produce flowers, at least of any consequence.

My next big chore will be to fertilize, once I see that the new growth is beginning to harden and not look so tender and tempting to hungry aphids. Throughout the growing season I fertilize about every six weeks, depending on performance and weather. Cooler weather, less fertilizer, more if the weather is warm.

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