I had better luck with my roses lately. I just love the smell! This is what I’ve been doing.
Roses require nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as secondary elements of calcium, magnesium and sulfur. Nitrogen for plant growth, phosphorous for stiff stems, flowering and seed formation, and potassium for photosynthesis.
When feeding roses, add organic fertilizers rather than concentrated chemical fertilizer. Organic formulas will break down slowly, gradually releasing nutrients to the soil; chemical fertilizers encourage quick, but weak growth.
Secondary and trace elements (including boron, nickel, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc) are also important in feeding roses. They can be found in many natural sources, such as horse manure, leaf mulch and alfalfa pellets. Just put a couple of inches of any of those under the rose bush. A handful of Epsom salts per bush each spring will supply the necessary magnesium sulphate.
Roses are among the thirstiest of flowers. They must have long, filling drinks. Water should penetrate to a depth of 8 inches each application- at least once a week- to move nutrients to the roots. In the heat of summer, more water may be necessary. Without adequate hydration, roses become easy prey for pests and diseases. However, roses left sitting in poorly drained soil could drown, and water left standing six hours or more on leaves may spread black spot and mildew. Low sprinklers, sprays no higher than 6 inches, soaker hoses, drip systems and underground porous piping are the best methods of delivery. (I let the hose slowly flow around the base for about half an hour, and do not get any leaves wet.)
I had some success with roses this past year. I planted two of the explorer series climbers by my obelisk’s. One, which I actually planted last fall, bloomed and sprung a big long shoot, which bloomed in August/September. I planted clematis as a companion plant, but a mouse chomped it off about 2″ above the ground. I hope it comes up next year. The other one I planted in a very hot place in front of a building. I also planted morning glories along with it to shade it a bit from the sun. I think I overdid the morning glories, because I kept having to cut them back. A third one, I purchased from a nursery in August (on sale, of course). It is called Iceberg, and from what I read, is very hardy and a climber as well. I will put an obelisk around it next spring. In any case, the leaves were looking unhealthy and when I planted it, I mixed sheep manure, compost and peat moss in with the soil, along with epsom salts and some garden sulfur, I threw in a banana peel for potassium and a rusty nail for iron. I was rather worried when all the leaves fell off, but within a week lovely healthy leaves appeared, and it bloomed before I left at the end of September. I hope it survives the winter and hasn’t worn itself out!! I think I might be catching rose-fever!Return to the Chicago Lawn Care Home