A Watchful Eye Can Make a Winner
By Sandy Lundberg

(From The Charleston Rose, August-September 1999)

The weather prognosticators predicted a drought but 14 inches of rain fell on Beaufort County in one day. But they were eventually proven right. A week of monsoons has been followed by a severe lack of rain. August temperatures have soared into the upper 90's and 100's. This extreme heat and lack of water is stressful, if not deadly, for rose plants. Typically, September temperatures hover in the 90's and watering is extremely important throughout the period.

Fall Trimming

Since the Charleston Rose Show is scheduled for mid- October, fall trimming should be done around the Labor Day weekend.

The "pruning" we do in late summer or early fall should never be as severe as spring pruning. Don't cut below the first stem that emerged in the spring; this would take you to below the original spring pruning cut. Make the cut at a point on the stem that is thick enough to support a new strong stem. Remove all thin, spindly growth for several reasons:

Fertilizing

Your rose bushes will benefit from another application of organic mix this fall. With our sandy soils, we like to scratch in 3 cups of organic mix per large bush and I cup per mini bush. Fertilize after trimming with a water soluble fertilizer. Do not use granular fertilizers since they last longer than water soluble fertilizers, and this encourages late new tender growth that could be frozen.

Thrips

Show blooms will need to be misted with a hand the rate of 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water. Start as soon as the green buds "crack" enough to show color between the sepals.

Worms

Black droppings in the petals of a rose, pin size holes, and parts of the flower eaten away are the work of worms-- most likely cornear worms. Most of the recommended sprays will kill, but only after the worms have done some damage (they have to take a bite to get the poison). Using Mavrik Aqua-Flo, Thuricide, or other chemicals designated for worms will help. Partial control can be achieved by inspecting the buds for the pearly white eggs and removing them. They seem easiest to spot in the early evening as the sun is lowering.

Spider Mites

Spider mites will be present in the garden as long as temperatures remain warrn. A weekly washing with a high pressure water wand or use of a miticide should help control any outbreaks.

Preparation in the Garden

Prep work actually begins in the garden weeks ahead of a rose show. A watchful eye can spot potential problems - problems that could keep a rose from becoming a candidate for the show. Examples:

Hopefully, the heat will lower a bit as we approach September so we can prepare for the show on October 16th. For those who have not entered a show before, let me encourage you to participate and I will see you there!