Rose Care Calendar

January


Water the roses regularly; spray to control black spot and mildew, as well as two-spotted mite, as retention of foliage is very important. Stake all basal shoots and steady their plants as well. If you prefer to have flowers right through summer and autumn, with quality varying from poor on warm days to fairly good on cool days, continue to remove faded flowers and feed the bushes well in late January. We recommend Neutrog’s Sudden Impact for Roses as it has all the essential nutrients your roses need.

February


If you plan to have those superb blooms in late March and April, trim your plants early this month in mild climate areas. In cool areas do this in January for March blooms, and in warm areas trim in March for blooms in May. Feed heavily a week before trimming for autumn blooms but see that the soil has been watered well before doing so. Continue staking basal shoots and spraying for fungal diseases and mites.

March


Mildew will appear on the new shoots of some susceptible cultivars; most commonly with warm days and cool nights in dry weather. Affected plants should be sprayed; continue spraying to prevent black spot, and mildew, if it appears. Aphids will appear and often caterpillars and thrips will be found. Control is needed; however vary the products used so that pest resistance does not build up. Stake all basal shoots; those growing in March and April will mature adequately before mid-winter. Check out websites and catalogues for new roses you might consider for your garden, also for Rose Shows where you can see the roses and talk to the exhibitors about which ones grow well in your area.

April


In mild climates the finest blooms of the whole year are to be had now if they have been delayed by trimming the plants in February. This would be a month earlier in cool climates and a month later in warm climates. These roses are quite as big as spring blooms, they are more colourful, they last longer, and there are many more blooms because the plants are bigger. Continue spraying to prevent black spot and to kill mildew. Late aphids are sure to appear towards the end of April. They exude honeydew especially in the autumn and ugly sooty mould forms. Avoid this by attending to them as soon as aphids are noticed.

Late April/May


Prepare the soil for planting in June/July. Use dolomite on acid soils and iron sulphate or gypsum on alkaline soils. If you are replacing a rose that has been in the ground, dig out about a wheelbarrow of the soil and fill the space with soil from another part of the garden where no roses have been growing. Dig in well-rotted manure and organic matter. A green crop of mustard seed or legumes, which is then dug in, will also help improve the soil.

June


Before planting bare root roses soak the plants in a bucket of water with seaweed solution for at least two hours. Make a mound in the hole and place the roots over and down around the mound. The bud union needs to be facing north or west and sitting 3-5cm above ground level. Backfill the soil halfway up the hole. Water well, poking around the roots to maintain soil and root contact. Let this drain for 15-20 minutes, then back fill to soil level and water lightly. This will minimise air pockets. Do not use fertiliser in the planting hole as this will likely burn the new roots that develop. We recommend using Neutrog’s Seamungus in June and July as it is an excellent soil conditioner, gentle acting, and it will help plants settle in and get growing new roots and shoots ready for spring.

July


In mild areas this is the ideal month for pruning roses. In cold areas it is better not to prune until August. Young growth in those areas is very subject to damage by frosts. Immediately pruning is completed, the prunings and fallen leaves should be put in the green waste bin and the plants sprayed with a fungicide particularly aimed at killing the spores of black spot, mildew and rust. Lime Sulphur is recognised as being effective and it will also address white scale. It is still too early to get maximum value out of manures. Loosen the top 2-3 centimetres of the soil and remove weeds.

August


The latter half of August is ideal for feeding roses, though in cold areas this can be delayed until September. If a few early aphids are seen they should be dealt with, for they breed at a tremendous rate. A few shoots of Hybrid Tea roses will be ready for disbudding in order to improve the quality of the flowers.

September


This is a month of great variation in the progress of the plants. In the cold areas there is early growth; in the warm areas early blooms; in the mild areas there is well developed foliage which is growing very quickly. Commence regular spraying at intervals of 10-15 days to protect the plants from fungal disease and pests such as aphids and caterpillars. This is best done in the cool of the evening or early morning. Avoid spraying in windy weather. Regular watering is usually needed in September, especially for the new plants.

October


Extremely fast growth occurs. Wind may cause some damage. Look for basal water shoots and tie to stakes so that they are not broken by the wind. These water shoots will supply you with blooms for the next two to three years so they are precious and need to be looked after. Spring Rose Shows are arranged for dates which are expected to coincide with maximum flowering in average seasons in each area. Visits to Rose shows and nurseries now, while there are plenty of typical blooms, will keep you up-to-date with developments, will add to enthusiasm and help in choosing additions and replacement for next winter. Keep up regular spraying routines for fungal disease and insect attack. Thrips will appear on the hot dry winds that come from inland areas. They are very tiny and burrow into buds and leave brown marks, especially around the outer edges of the petals. Spraying for these will be more frequent as they keep coming on the wind. Two-spotted mite (red spider mite) also appears on lower leaves and will need to be treated in order to avoid defoliation of the plants. Remove spent flowers. Mulch rose beds to conserve moisture.

November


In mild areas the big spring flush of rose blooming comes between mid-October and mid-November, although this varies with climatic conditions. When removing faded flowers there is no need to cut lower than the uppermost strong well-developed eye which points outward on the plant. Regrowth will be quicker from this high trimming. Light feeding soon after the spring crop of blooms and maintenance of moisture in the soil will give good roses again at about Christmas time. Basal shoots are not numerous until November but from now onwards through March they come in increasing numbers. Look for reddish-green shoots coming from the bud union area. They are less numerous on old plants but because of this they are doubly precious. Almost every basal shoot should be staked. Do not confuse them with unwanted rootstock shoots which are usually light green in colour, have different leaf shape, and come from the root area of the rose, usually due to damage of the roots from digging. Scrape the soil away from where they are attached to the rose and pull these off, rather than cutting them, as they will eventually take over the whole plant if left. Continue spraying for fungal diseases, thrips and two-spotted mite. Aphids will become less numerous.

December


With hot, dry summer upon us together with hot wind, it is important to water at fairly frequent intervals. These intervals will vary with the type of soil and the degree of drying influence. In light soils the intervals may be as short as 2 or 3 days while in heavy loams they may be anything from 5-10 days. Avoid keeping the soil wet. It is essential that air be allowed to penetrate between the soil particles. By contrast, pockets of air must be avoided, especially at planting time. Stake basal shoots. Continue spray routines for fungal diseases, thrips and mites as needed. Remove faded flowers. If a hot day (say 25ºc or more) is forecast cut roses as early as possible in the morning – as tight buds. Steep them up to their calyces in water at room temperature or a little warmer, never in cold water. If the weather is cool, cut them in late afternoon – they seem to keep better. If you intend to delay the autumn flowering until the cool weather cut only very short stems in the last week of December. Never cut into basal shoots.