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Wednesday, June 6, 2007 12:59 am

Summer care of roses

Few flowers will provide more beauty and scent to your garden

Untitled Document On my way to work each morning, I have the pleasure of being greeted by the heavenly scent of Mr. Lincoln hybrid tea roses and Knock Out roses.
Every garden should contain at least one rosebush — few plants compare, in beauty or in scent — but you should be careful when you consider the type of rose you want for your garden.
First, be sure to note resistance to diseases. Roses are susceptible to a variety of disease and insect pests. Although they may survive without a pest-control program, roses may not be very attractive without such help. Healthy roses are better able to withstand disease. You can encourage the growth of healthy plants through the selection of disease-resistant cultivars; proper site selection, soil preparation, and spacing; adequate moisture and good drainage; and proper maintenance.
Ideal growing conditions for roses include full sunlight, good air circulation, and well-drained soil with a high organic-matter content. All-day sun, or at least six hours, is preferred. Morning and midafternoon sun are preferable to late-afternoon sun — morning sun helps dry the leaves, reducing the likelihood that disease will strike.
Roses prefer uniform soil moisture throughout the growing season — the rule of thumb is 1 inch of water per week. The soaker hose, which applies water to the soil while keeping the foliage dry, is the preferred means of watering.
A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch will help retain soil moisture, keep soil cool, and retard weed growth. Materials such as shredded hardwood, straw, and herbicide-free dry grass clippings make good mulches. A yearly fertility program is a must for strong, healthy roses. The fertilization schedule varies, depending on the type of roses being grown, but you can get started with a spring application of general-purpose fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10 or 12-12-12). Use 1/2 to 1 cup of fertilizer per plant. Spread your chosen fertilizer in a band, starting 6 inches from the crown of the bush and going out to about 18 inches. Once application is completed, lightly work the fertilizer into the soil and water the plant. Most roses will benefit from a second application of fertilizer around June 15 or at the end of the spring blooming period. Some roses — continuous-flowering or repeat-blooming — a third application, in mid-July, is suggested. Never apply fertilizer after the middle of August.
Another fertilizer option is timed- or controlled-release fertilizer, which release nutrients slowly over the growing season. Such fertilizers should be applied each May. The pruning of rosebushes, a matter of confusion for many gardeners, is another important maintenance consideration. The class of rose and the time of year at which the bush blooms influence the type and amount of pruning required. Most pruning is done in the spring. Use clean, sharp pruners and make your cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above outward-facing buds. The cut should slant away from the bud. It’s been suggested that sealing the ends of the cuts with white glue will prevent the entry of cane borers, a common pest of roses.
For recurrent-blooming roses, dead-heading — the removal of faded flowers — is important. The rule of thumb for vigorously growing plants is to cut the flower stem back to an outward-facing bud above a five-leaflet leaf. Information for this article was obtained from “Our Rose Garden,” a University of Illinois Extension Web site that contains information about selecting and growing roses in Illinois. For more info, go to www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/roses/. Bob Cash, a master gardener with the University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit, will offer a 30-minute program on summer care of roses at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14. Among the topics: pruning, watering, fertilizing, and insect and disease control. The free program will be held in the demonstration gardens, located at the extension building, on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. For information, call 217-782-4617. 

Jennifer Fishburn is a horticulture educator with the University of Illinois Extension Sangamon-Menard Unit. Contact her at www.extension.uiuc.edu/Sangamon. 
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