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Often in winter my interest in the garden becomes as dormant as the plants, and I curl up with a book and a nice hot cuppa, and ignore the cold weather around me. Although this is likely the hardest time to find motivation in the garden, it is one of the most important seasons for planting, pruning, tidying, and spraying of deciduous trees, fruit trees, and roses. If you have roses in the garden or want to plant a rose this season, then read on because what we do with our roses now will ensure good performance and plentiful blooms in the spring and summer.




There are four main things to remember with roses: 

Position: Simply plant them where you will get the most enjoyment from the fragrance or flowers. Remember that roses need sun for at least 1/2 of the day and detest strong winds but need some air movement to deter fungus. If you think the area has winds that are a little too strong, add some trellis or stake the rose for support.


Pruning: We prune roses to improve their overall health. It also helps to stimulate growth, encourage flowering, and improve the shape of the rose bush to aid air circulation. What most don’t realise is that roses are not hard to prune, and with a little know–how, it really is easy. Roses flower on the new season’s growth, so if you prune every year, you ensure a plant that is easy to maintain and control.


Make sure you always use sharp, clean secateurs to prevent the spread of disease. An easy way to ensure they are clean is to add a few teaspoons of bleach to some water and dip the blades into this after each cut.


Prune approximately half of the growth on all bush roses, aiming for three to five healthy canes. Remove all weak and intertwining branches then cut to outward facing buds to keep the centre of the bush open. Cut just above this bud on a 45° angle with the top of the cut above the bud, so that water runs away from the bud.


Standard roses are cut in the same manner, cut each stem to an outward facing bud, to maintain a beautiful shape, and leave six to eight canes. Climbing roses are pruned quite differently; you can prune lightly in winter and give them their main prune after flowering, removing old and dead canes and shortening what remains. Climbing roses will flower at their highest point so its important to bring canes down and fan out along your fence or trellis. Any branches that come off the main canes should be pruned back to 2-3 buds.


Spraying: Spraying is essential to keeping a rose healthy. Often roses will harbour bugs after the warm season, which, without spraying, are ready to attack again come spring. The spraying regimen is easy, using natural products, and can be used on your deciduous fruit trees too. Remember to spray the ground around the plants at the same time, because when the leaves fell off your plant, they may have left some surprises on the soil.


In winter, spray with lime sulphur. This encourages the defoliation of leaves, as well as keeping the stems free of scale, moss, and lichen. Reapply after two weeks. Two weeks after that second spray, apply a copper and oil spray to prevent scale, red mite, and fungal problems, respraying every two weeks for a total of three sprays.


I like to use liquid copper as this does not clog up my sprayer like the powder forms can. There is some conjecture on whether you can or should mix the copper and oil together when you spray. If you mix them together, the oil stops the effective spread of the copper particles; therefore, it is recommended that you spray the copper first followed by the oil.


If you wonder whether you can spray them together, the answer is "yes," as long as the copper is in powder form, however it is not as effective as spraying separately. Copper kills fungus, and the oil treats for insects, especially scale. Remember the sprays should be allowed six hours drying time to be effective.


Soil and Fertiliser: Winter is the optimum time to add some garden lime or dolomite lime to keep your soil sweet, but do not apply any other fertilisers until mid-August, because plants won’t take up nutrients when they're dormant. After August, add half a cup of rose fertiliser to each rose and reapply at three month intervals (excluding winter).


However, now is the time to add some good quality compost to the soil of existing roses, as well as new roses or transplanted roses.


New rose beds are best prepared before planting. Deep digging helps drainage and aeration and loosens the soil for easy root penetration. Add compost to improve the condition of the soil, and a handful of an organic fertiliser like blood & bone. Dig the hole large enough to create a mound in the bottom, so that the roots can be spread over it. Ensure the hole is deep enough for the graft to sit just above the soil. Don’t apply any other fertiliser for a month, as direct contact with fertiliser can kill tender new roots. Remember to keep your rose well-watered for the first six months as it becomes established.


I think this about covers the care of roses. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us at info@oderings.co.nz. Don’t forget you can also purchase your secateurs, roses, copper, and oil online here too.


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