What woman does not love roses on Valentine’s Day? How about roses that last more than a few days?
A couple of times my husband has given me a rose bush on Valentine’s Day. I enjoy receiving rose bushes, along with other plants, because they are things that I can enjoy for years to come.
Roses are one of the most popular plants among Georgia gardeners, even though growing roses in our Southern climate can be challenging. Variety selection is the key to success. When selecting a variety, look for something that grows well in this area. Also look for any pest-resistant varieties.
Site selection also is important. Roses need six to eight hours of sun each day. If shade cannot be avoided, morning sun is essential. The morning sun dries the dew, decreasing the chance of disease. Roses need well-drained soils with about 4 inches of organic matter. Roses should be planted 5 to 6 feet apart during February. Plant roses no deeper than they were in the original container. Water thoroughly after planting. Add a layer of mulch if desired.
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Roses should be watered once a week during dry weather. Drip irrigation should be used when possible. When fertilizing, a soil test is recommended, but generally roses can be fertilized with 16-4-8 or 12-4-8 each month from March to September. Fertilizer should be spread in a circle around the plant, raked lightly into the soil and watered in.
Pruning roses will make them bloom more profusely. Prune Hybrid Teas, Floribundas and Grandifloras in late winter before growth begins. Prune weak-growing cultivars lightly, and vigorous-growing varieties more heavily. Remove weak or wounded canes and shoots that originate below the graft union.
Prune climbing roses after the first flush of blooms fade. It is customary to prune back about one-third of their total length. Also remove any weak or damaged canes. Use sharp clippers and make clean cuts just above a bud.
Black spot, powdery mildew, petal blight, crown galls and stem cankers are common rose diseases in Georgia. Thrips, spider mites and aphids are the most common insect threats. Proper spacing, pruning and cultivar selection will reduce many disease and insect problems. Sometimes it is necessary to spray a labeled pesticide to control these problems, particularly on Hybrid Tea roses.
So gentlemen, consider giving your lady a rose bush, but never forget the heart-shaped box of chocolate.
DATES TO REMEMBER
March 5: Recertification training, Perry
March 18-19: Advanced Landscape Design, Perry, 6-8 p.m.
March 19-21: Spring Plant Sale, Macon
March 28-29: Spring Home and Garden Show, Perry
Feb. 17: Weed control, noon, Oglethorpe
Feb. 19: Pecan, noon, Perry
Feb. 20: Cotton/soybean, noon, Perry
Feb. 27: Peanut, noon, Oglethorpe
March 5: Disease management, noon, Oglethorpe
For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston/ for more news about your local Extension office.