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Five More Tips for Growing Healthy Roses

May 20, 1999

If you work with nature, you can enjoy beautiful roses without all the extra work, cost and hazard of routine chemical use ("Six Ways to Keep Those Blooms on the Rose," April 8).

Here is a list of five important tips that Tommy Cairns failed to include:

1. Proper Placement in the Garden: Roses must have at least six hours of direct sun daily, and they need good air circulation as well. Sun and air prevent fungi.

2. The Power of Mulch: Adding compost as a top dressing on a regular basis is vital to maintaining healthy soil and therefore healthy plants. Feeding with only chemical fertilizer is like eating only sugar and a vitamin pill and expecting to be healthy. Mulching with a 3- to 4-inch layer of compost also keeps soil-borne diseases from splashing up in the plant, conserves water and discourages weeds. Even a living mulch like a flowering ground cover has been found to be beneficial. (I use cranesbill: Geranium incanum.)

3. Avoid Excessive Feeding and Watering: This will lead to slower, stronger growth that is resistant to bugs and disease. Use long-lasting organic food every eight weeks and deep water as necessary.

4. Blast You, Aphid!: Aphids can be kept from getting out of hand by using the hose to blast them where they congregate on new buds and foliage. Do this once or twice a week in the morning and they shouldn't get bad enough to do harm. Also, by not using an insecticide, you will see your ladybug population increase. (Look for their orange-and-black, alligator-like larvae feasting on remaining aphids.)

5. Don't Plant Inferior Varieties: Choose from the many kinds known to be disease resistant. Choose many-petaled varieties for blooms that last longer in our heat. Following these tips will result in a healthy, vibrant rose bed with many blooms, and extra time to enjoy it.

BONNIE WIENE

California Certified

Nursery Professional

Altadena

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