Sunday, September 27, 1998
ARE you disappointed with your roses? Do they survive for a short span and then decline? There is `no uniform rose bed in your garden. The blooms show burnt margins, are out of shape, fail to open or are of poor quality. Are you planning to get rid of them? Dont. The problems, most of these, are self-created. Get rid of them. You will be rewarded.
There is nothing wrong with the climate so far as growing roses is concerned. And if you find any damage to blooms due to winter frost or extreme cold conditions, then you can skip it by manipulating the pruning time. Do not strictly follow the book which says pruning should be done in October. In fact the plant takes about 60 days after pruning to bloom.
The October pruning leads to flowering same time in the last week of December, the time when the danger of frost is maximum. In case of exposure either the blooms fail to open or have burnt (blackend) margins of the petals. Why not then advance the pruning time by a few days? Do it this time and see the effect. Do not forget to smear the cut-end the same disinfectant like Bordeaux paste and Bordeaux paint. If you do not have any of these handy, then make a slurry of Blitox powder and cover the wound.
There is something more to the traditional way of (mis)handling roses. Exposing of roots is associated with rose pruning. This is to give manure and fertilisers and to expose the roots to sun. Nothing could be more injurious to rose plants than this. Had there been a need for exposure to sun, the mother nature would have, on its own, provided the roots at the top of the plant. What happens, in fact, is that the feeders, that are confined to the upper few inches of the soil, get damaged and the plant starts declining, dying one by one over a period of time. Repeated replacements in a bed lead to variable age, ultimately leading to no uniformity of growth and size, thus killing the effect. There is no need to expose the roots and do spoon-feeding with fertilisers. All the commercial fertilisers break down in the soil and are taken up by the plants on their own. These are just to be mixed with the upper soil layer all around, a few inches away from the main stem.
The third most important aspect is protection against insect and pests. When the rose buds fail to open or when the opened bloom has very short life, you can be sure that other than the cold injury, as explained earlier, it is the insect attack.
Aphids are active during December to February. Their young ones, the nymphs, congregate at the base of the unopened buds and suck sap. The affected buds either fail to open or give distorted bloom. In the folds of petals of partially opened flowers, there hide tiny thrips and aphids whichsuck the sap and distort the bloom. Both these insects can be controlled by spraying rogor (Dimethoate) or metasystox.
Red scales appear like pox marks. These are in fact waxy coverings under which insects live. They feed under this protective covering and at times cause mortality of the plant. The red scales attack occurs in February-March. Under samall garden conditions this pest can be controlled by application of rogor etc. dissolved in water and applied with any used toothbrush by rubbing the stems with it. Application of phorate ganules, one tablespoonful thrice i.e. at the time of pruning, one month thereafter and again one month after the second application will effectively control not only the scales but other insects too.
A close look at the leaves and buds may reveal the presence of white powdery mass, the powdery mildew. The young emerging buds are also completely covered with it. The leaves curl up and the buds fail to open. Spraying wettable sulphur or karathane, control it. Die-back kill the plants from tip downwards. It usually sets in after pruning. If not stopped in time, it may kill the whole plant, especially in the initial stage. Black spot is also an important disease. It is a fungal disease that causes premature defoliation. Spraying captan helps. Destruction of infected leaves is also important.
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