Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southwestern Deserts
June, 2011
Regional Report

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Multi-colored 'Chihuly' rose blooms

Summertime Rose Maintenance

Depending on where you live in the Southwest, rose bushes may be budding out, in glorious full bloom, or ending their major flowering period to just hang in there through intense heat. Follow these pointers to keep your bushes as healthy as possible. Strong plants are the best foil against pest and disease problems.

All Elevations
Control problems Spray off shrubs several times a week with a strong blast of water from the hose. This inhibits aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew but doesn't harm beneficial insects. Spray early in the morning before the sun heats up to prevent foliar burn.

Low Desert Elevations
Water Pay close attention to water needs, especially when it is windy, which desiccates foliage quickly. Depending on soil type, temperatures, and your microclimate, you will likely have to water two to three times per week, and perhaps even four times during triple digit, windy weather. Water should soak through the entire root zone, 18 to 24 inches deep, with each irrigation. This leaches salts below the root zone, helping to prevent salt burn on foliage. Roses grown in pots need daily irrigation.

Mulch Refresh layers of mulch around the shrubs as needed to maintain 2 to 4 inches depth.

Fertilizer Some low desert rose gardeners prefer not to feed their bushes in summer because it may stress the plants in intense heat. Others believe that bushes need the food so they will be ready to rebloom when fall arrives. If you do fertilize, use half the rate suggested on the container. Organic fertilizers, which have relatively low levels of NPK, are less likely to burn plants than non-organic fertilizers with high NPK levels. Scratch granular fertilizers into the soil immediately before a scheduled irrigation.

Deadhead Continue removing spent flowers, which promotes more blooms. Otherwise, the bush will expend energy on making rose hips (and their seeds) in preparation for dormancy rather than producing a second bloom period in the fall.

Mid and High Desert Elevations
Water Water one to two times per week to maintain consistent soil moisture to a depth of 18 to 24 inches during this major growth period. Roses grown in pots need more frequent irrigation, about two to three times per week. If winds are hot and dry, you may need to water both containers and bushes in the ground more frequently.

Mulch Refresh layers of mulch around the shrubs as needed to maintain 2 to 4 inches depth. If you or your neighbors have pine trees, the needles make excellent mulch, as they are slow to decompose.

Fertilizer Apply a slow-release fertilizer that will last through summer. If you prefer, apply an organic fertilizer monthly through summer. At high elevations, stop fertilizing six weeks before your first frost date. Water deeply immediately after applying fertilizer.

Deadhead Continue removing flowers as soon as they are spent, which promotes more blooms through the season.

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