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Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer

Lucy Mercer
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Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer

The sultry days and nights of mid-summer can be hard on your garden, especially roses. Give roses some extra TLC to enjoy them just a little bit longer and for a second flush of blooms before the end of the season.

Rose expert Chris Van Cleave offers his tips for getting roses through the toughest part of summer. Known as the Redneck Rosarian, Van Cleave gardens in zone 8A in Helena, Alabama, near Birmingham.

“By the end of July, summer has taken its toll on roses,” Van Cleave says. “These are the dog days of summer and they can cause roses to go dormant. The blooms will be smaller and you won’t have as many.”

The first step is to water roses regularly, Van Cleave says. In raised beds and in-ground beds, you can get away with watering about twice a week. However, roses in containers will likely need water every day, and sometimes twice a day. (Drip irrigation may be the best solution for consistent watering.) Aim for about an inch of water a week, either by rainfall or the watering hose.

Make the most of your watering regimen by keeping roses mulched. A 3 to 4-inch layer of organic mulch reduces evaporation and keeps plant roots cool during hot summer days.

 

Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer

You can also keep a tidy garden by picking up diseased leaves that have fallen to the ground. Good housekeeping practices significantly reduce disease in the garden, Van Cleave says. The most prevalent rose disease, black spot, is mold that increases as the humidity in the air increases. When you pick up and dispose of diseased foliage, you control the spread of black spot. 

Another black spot control is to spray roses with an anti-fungal spray every seven days. When using fungicides, carefully follow label directions and remember that twice as much doesn’t mean twice as effective. 

“The key to keeping disease out of your garden is being proactive,” Van Cleave says. “Like my grandmother used to say, ‘It’s better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent.'”

Most pests like Japanese beetles can be removed manually. When you see them in your garden, fill up a bucket with soapy water, pull off the offending bug (wear gloves if you need to) and drop the insect in the water. Van Cleave recommends spraying for pests only if they become a problem over time. You can also plant companion plants like irises, bee balm and daylilies that attract beneficial insects like ladybugs. 

Prune Roses for a Final Flush of Blooms

Most importantly, prune roses in late summer. In late July, early August, cut back repeat blooming roses by half. This shapes up the plant, and signals the bush to bloom again. This late-summer pruning will bring a final flush of blooms in about six weeks.

You can also apply an organic fertilizer like Jobe’s to give roses a boost for the brilliant final flush of blooms. Apply no fertilizer after August. As with all fertilizers, read the labels before using and be careful not to over-apply.

Tip: Growing roses organically can be done, it’s all about the variety that you grow. Choose roses for disease resistance (read the plant tag!) and place them in the sunniest part of your garden. Roses need a minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight daily to thrive.

How to Cut Roses for Bouquets

Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer
Gardeners should enjoy the fruit of their labors and share them with others, Van Cleave says. He estimates he cuts about 50 percent of the roses in his garden to give away. “I’ve never met a person who didn’t want a rose,” he says.

For best results:

1. Cut roses early in the morning, when the blooms have the most water in them.

2. Bring along a bucket of water and sharp pruners or scissors.

3. Cut rose stems as long as possible and plunge them immediately in water. There’s just a 2-minute window to hydrate the stem.

4. Once inside, put a clean cut on each stem and place in a vase filled with the Redneck Rosarian’s recipe for cut rose success: equal parts lemon lime soda and water, to which he adds a copper penny.

5. Repeat the ritual, including cutting the stem every two to three days. Cut rose stems will last up to 10 days with this treatment. 

REGIONAL ROSE SELECTIONS

 
Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer

Your local Garden Center carries roses that grow best in your area. Here are a few regional favorites. Keep in mind that selection varies by store.

1. Pacific Northwest
  • Icecap™
  • Drift® Roses 
  • Veranda® Roses (Lavender Veranda is pictured above)
  • Sunblaze® Miniature Roses

Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer

   2. Midwest                
  • Drift® Roses
  • Knock Out® Roses (Some are only hardy to zone 5) 
  • Cherry Frost™ (pictured above)
  • Sunblaze® Miniature Roses (only for containers)
                
Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer
 
3. Southeast
  • Tahitian Treasure™ (pictured above)
  • Drift® Roses
  • Knock Out® Roses
  • Sunblaze® Miniature Roses
    
Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer
4. Northeast
  • Icecap™ (pictured above)
  • Drift® Roses
  • Knock Out® Roses (some are only hardy to zone 5)
  • Sunblaze® Miniature Roses (only for containers)
    
Tips for Rose Success in the Heat of Summer
                
5. Southwest
  • Icecap™
  • Veranda® Roses
  • Sunblaze® Miniature Roses
  • Preference™ (pictured above)

Images of rose varieties are by Star Roses.

Read more on roses:

 
    

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