August is the month that gives the greatest promise to rosearians as rose plants, in a week or so, will be bursting with vitality sporting new growths of one centimetre or more.
These growths are too short to be damaged by the wind, aphids and other pests which have not as yet emerged from their overwintering break.
From the scars of previous prunings where large old shoots have been cut away, more shoots than needed will re-grow.
If these shoots are allowed to grow the strongest can take over but it may not necessarily be headed in the right direction.
Where possible select the most desirable outward-facing shoots and rub the unwanted ones off with your thumb.
Spring flower quality in some varieties can be spoilt by too much kindness in the form of stimulants causing them to become oversized and of poor colour.
Excessive use of high nitrogen fertilisers has a tendency to form soft growth which can be very susceptible to mildews and other fungal diseases.
In most gardens a small handful of blood and bone, or a specific rose fertiliser low in nitrogen, should be plenty for each rose bush.
I find at this time of the year a light hoeing of the soil to a depth of about 2.5cms not only is the easiest way to control weeds, but also this breaking up the soil surface will allow the rain to penetrate into the soil.
In heavy soils, which roses really like, where drainage may not be great, a deeper digging will do more good than harm as it aerates the soil.
Of course, take care to avoid damaging the roses’ roots.
Early August pruning may obtain later blooms from some varieties that usually flower earlier. Make all cuts to growth buds that have not as yet made any growth.
Later pruning will often help to give more spring flowers on varieties subject to blind shoots.
Shortly after pruning spray rose bushes and the ground beneath heavily with a copper-based fungicide to kill any disease spores.
Check the stems for any signs of scale insects and if any are found give them a spray with an insecticide especially the climbing varieties as I have found these to be more susceptible to scale than bush and standard roses.
My basic care regime for roses is:
- Choose a sunny position that gets six hours of sun each day;
- Don’t plant bushes too close together to allow for a good air flow;
- Provide protection for strong winds;
- Prepare the soil before planting by digging in plenty of aged compost;
- Fertilise after pruning, mulch;
- During the active growing season feed every 6-8 weeks;
- Always water at the base of the plant in the morning to reduce fungal diseases;
- Put into practise a preventative spray regime to control black spot and use sharp pruning tools.
Follow these practices and you should have happy, healthy roses to brighten up your life as well as your garden.
August 8: Longford Garden Club meets at the Christ Church Parish Hall, William Street, Longford, 7.30pm.
August 15: The Launceston Horticultural Society meets at Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston at 8pm. Guest speaker is arborist Frank Rosol. Visitors welcome. Home-made supper, trade table, raffle.
August 16: The Launceston Orchid Society meets at the Newnham Uniting Church Hall, George Town Road, Launceston at 7pm.
August 21: Australian Plant Society meets at the Max Fry Hall Gorge Rd, Trevallyn at 7.30pm.
Daily: The Emu Valley Rhododendron Garden, Romaine, Burnie. Open 9am to 5pm. Tea room open 10am to 4pm.