Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Rose Care by Donna Duffy

It’s finally beginning to feel like spring! Your roses are probably showing signs of life again with canes turning green and buds starting to form. But this is Colorado, and we’re not out of freeze danger yet. With that in mind, the following are some steps you can take now to help your roses get off to a good start.

1.     Gradually remove the mulch from around the rose bushes. Don’t do this all at once, just remove a bit at a time, preferably in the afternoon. Gradual removal of mulch gives the plant time to adjust to the change in soil temperature. If you remove it all too soon, the new growth will freeze. If you wait too long, the tender new growth that has been protected will need some shading from the bright sunlight.

2.     Keep checking the beds for moisture. Dig down about 3 inches and test the soil by squeezing it in your hand. If it’s crumbly, you need to apply water. Water in the warmest part of the day during springtime. Later, in summer, your watering habits will need to change.

3.     Clean out the beds by removing any dead leaves from the canes and the ground. These old leaves can harbor diseases from the previous season, so get rid of them!

4.     In late April or early May, when the danger of freeze has subsided, you can prune your roses. Cut the canes all the way back to live wood. A correct pruning cut is about ¼ inch above the bud eye. Cut at an angle pointing toward the bud eye, and use sharp, clean pruning shears. Cut out any canes that are crossing over other canes. Cut any dead or diseased wood all the way to the ground or the graft. Seal the cut canes with a cane sealer or a dab of Elmer’s glue. Don’t be afraid of hard pruning in the spring; you are shaping the bush for good air circulation and healthy summer blooms.

5.     Bareroot roses can be planted as soon as the soil is workable. Soak them for 24 hours prior to planting. Mound up soil and mulch around the newly planted roses to prevent them from drying out.

A great resource for all kinds of information about growing roses is the Denver Rose Society’s “Growing Roses in Colorado”. This marvelous publication was updated in 2009 and is an invaluable resource. Check out the website at: