Consulting Rosarian Tip for May

May Rose Window – CR Advice – 2022
By Leona Berger, DRS President and Consulting Rosarian

May is a very busy month for us rose growers. I have been walking around my garden
and checking on the health of my rose bushes. The fact that we had a cold February and
March has helped my roses to stay dormant until April. This means they did not get a
false signal to start greening up early only to have the new growth zapped by frost and
having to start all over. Overall my roses have come through the winter in good shape. I
did a deep root watering at least once and sometimes twice a month during the winter to
be sure their root moisture was adequate. Failure to water during the winter is one of the
top reasons that roses fail to survive.
Now that your roses are greening up and we are, hopefully, past the period of a severe freeze, it is time to start your
spring maintenance program. This includes, removing any dried leaves from the plant and the ground, pruning, fertilizing and watering. Hopefully, you have had your pruners and loppers sharpened. If not, your local ACE hardware
sharpens tools at a reasonable rate.

Pruning: When pruning, I apply the 3 D’s (remove dead, diseased-damaged, dinky) canes. I remove the obviously
dead canes first. If I’m not sure if the cane is dead, I start by cutting it back in stages and checking the inside of the
cane (the pith) until you find healthy pith. If it is dead, the inside will be beige to brown. Healthy pith will look gray
-green on the inside. If the entire cane is dead cut it down to the ground. Next cut any canes that are discolored or
have signs of damage such as scars or breakage. Finally, remove any very small or dinky shoots as they are only diverting growth strength from the main canes. Finally, remove any canes that are crossing or rubbing against each
other. This should leave you with a healthy pruned bush.

Fertilizing: Always do a deep watering of your rose bushes the day prior to fertilizing. Apply an organic fertilizer
containing a mix of natural nutrients such as alfalfa, bone, blood, fish and cottonseed meal as well as kelp and other
elemental nutrients. This balanced fertilizer releases the nutrients slowly and benefits the soil as well as feeding the
plant. If it is a granular fertilizer, scratch it in lightly around the base of the plant. If it is a liquid, follow package
instructions for a foliar or soil drench feeding. Always water again after feeding, this is especially important when
using a chemical fertilizer.

Watering: Continue to water your roses at least twice a week if there is no natural moisture from Mother Nature. I
use a soil moisture meter to check moisture levels. It is a fairly inexpensive tool that I find invaluable to maintaining
the health of my roses and is available at any big box store or your local nursery.

Pests: Keep an eye on your plants for any sign of pest problems.
Aphids are the most common early pest. They are easily controlled by
spraying with a good jet spray. It will knock the pest off the bush and
they cannot climb up again. You should continue to monitor your
plants every 3 to 5 days and spray as needed to keep your roses aphid
free.
Sit back and watch your roses thrive and look for those lovely first
blooms!!!