Saturday, March 5, 2016

Roses Like To Be Trimmed and Watered - More Than Most People Allow

John Paul II -
he got an honorary degree at Notre Dame,
so we are alumni.

I picked up some groceries at Walmart and saw cut roses for $5. Daisies for $5 or roses? - Not a tough decision. I looked over the various roses and pulled out some that looked fairly good. Retail roses do not last long in the vase, so I wanted the ones that looked fresh. I had a plan.

Roses are considered a thorn bush, but I think of them as sponges. Cutting roses after a long rainstorm is difficult, if the shears are not sharp and scissor-like, (The anvil cutting shears tend to crush rather than cut. They are better for small branches and tough plastic packages.)

I brought the roses home, got out the shears, and cut inches of stem away. The stems draw up air rather than water when going through the trauma of retail, from packaging to bringing them home. Cutting a few inches off is a good start.

I also cleaned the vase, which reeked of rot and mildew. I hear various tips about cut flowers. Changing the water daily makes them last longer, but even then, the forces of decomposition fire up and slimy mildew forms inside the vase. Scrub, scrub, scrub, detergent, rinse, scrub, scrub, rinse, rinse.

I paid $5 each for two Paradise roses.
Roses around a maple trees are far more attractive
than weeds and maple tree suckers.

Key Step
I use the sink sprayer and sprayed the roses all over, stems, blossoms, leaves, I would toss a bunch in a tub of cold water if they looked like they needed it. They looked completely refreshed when I put them in fresh water in a clean vase. Mrs. Ichabod loved them. I will repeat the fresh water and the cold shower today and Sunday morning.

Outdoor Roses
Our helper and I transplanted 8 roses from the front and backyard. The next step after planing a group,  is to water them thoroughly and prune them. Watering washes the soil down among the roots to remove air spaces. It gives the roots a start, because the new root growth will stabilize the plant and feed it. Pruning makes the roots grow even faster, even when the established plant seems unharmed by digging and replanting.

By watering I mean spraying all the upper parts of the roses so they get a real shower for their branches, not just water for their roots. I will repeat that on the second and third days too. Our helper did the first watering while I did another chore. I said, "Do not spare the horses."

A FB friend and I were discussing  bare root roses versus potted ones. I like to order bare root ones because I can choose exactly which ones I want. But potted ones are just as good, in spite of what rose snobs say. The three steps to have great roses are:

  1. Prune
  2. Water
  3. Mulch.
Our 8 KnockOut roses became a neighborhood  wonder last year. They were all potted, dug into holes in the lawn, then mulched, watered, and pruned. Every time they reached 6 feet tall, they were pruned to 3 feet tall. We had dry spells so I gave them cold showers with the hose on the waterboarding setting. That dislodges dirt and loose flowers that need pruning anyway.

Veteran's Honor simply glows red
in the garden. The cut roses are splendid
and fragrant in the vase.

Bare Root Rain Soaker
We have added a memorial row for the main rose garden, with three more bushes planned, perhaps two more in the maple tree rose garden.

When the bare root roses come, I will soak them first in rainwater. I used to be skeptical about the soak, but I saw the value when I planted 20 at once last year. I had the rain barrels full of water and needed to open packages while planting and digging. I felt like the sorcerer's apprentice the rest of the afternoon, with dreams of every rose I wanted planted turning into a nightmare of digging, soaking, pruning, sorting, watering, measuring. 

The roses took off beautifully, better than I ever saw with previous efforts. 

If rainwater is not available, the other solution is gray-water (recycled in some homes from the wassh water) or tapwater left in the barrel at least one day. Chlorine evaporates out of city water, and chlorine is hard on plants. For the best results, use rainwater first, gray-water second, and soaker hose when there is no other way.

Mr. Lincoln has long, long legs,
magic beanstalk growth, fragrance,
and low cost.

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