If your desiring a rose display that will rival Flemington Racecourse on Melbourne Cup, then follow these sound spring rose care tips.
Generally, roses should be pruned back by two-thirds in winter but if you haven’t done this by early spring, a gentle pruning to remove dead branches and excess straggly growth should suffice.
When new foliage starts to appear, feed roses with Searles Flourish Soluble Plant Food, reapplying it every two weeks. Roses are greedy feeders and Searles Flourish will give them the surge of nutrients they need for strong growth and flowering. Searles Flourish is sometimes called a ‘foliar fertiliser’ because its nutrients are conducive to being absorbed through the plant’s leaves. This method of feeding is sometimes favoured as it results in the fast uptake of nutrients by the plant. Ideally, roses should be given sufficient space for their root system, but in situations where their roots are crowded by other plants, foliar feeding can avoid the problems associated with root competition. Always dissolve Searles Flourish in water at the recommended rate, following instructions carefully. Applications of Searles Flourish can be alternated with or replaced with SeaMax® Fish & Kelp, an organic alternative.
An excellent organic fertiliser is 5IN1™ Organic Plant Food. Dig this gently into the soil around the drip line (being careful not to let it touch the stems of the plant) and water it in well. On roses, 5IN1™ Organic Plant Food should be reapplied every 6–8 weeks for best results.
Roses also need plenty of water and should never be allowed to dry out. How often you water depends on the weather, but twice weekly during spring is a good guide. This can be increased to once every second day during summer or in very hot, dry weather. Try to avoid directly watering the foliage and flowers. Applying a thick layer of mulch is essential and a good way to prevent the soil from drying out.
When new growth starts appearing in spring, keep an eye out for aphids as they love new growth and are likely to make an appearance. Blast them off with water when you see them or spray with Searles Bug Beater, a natural pyrethrum spray. Black spot and powdery mildew can be controlled with Searles Mancozeb Plus. It’s best to spray this on roses every 10–14 days as a preventative measure, rather than wait for fungal infections to appear.
Did you know?
Roses have very similar growing requirements to grapes. Roses were traditionally grown in vineyards as an indicator species to allow wine growers to avoid using fungicide treatments when it wasn’t necessary. Being slightly more susceptible to mildew, the roses would develop this condition about 2 days before the grapes would which allowed farmers time to spray the grape vines before they were harmed by the disease.
Information with special thanks to Tony Stallwood from the Queensland Rose Society10 Tips for Growing David Austin Roses How to Grow Roses in Pots