Growing Roses In The Hot South, Insect Prevention is Essential

When growing roses in the south, careful planting with quantities of organic matter, compost, humus, heavy periodic watering, and a regular program of sanitation and disease and insect prevention is essential for success with shrub roses.

cluster of red roses bloomsPin

Long hot days and a long growing season provide an opportunity for a wealth of bloom but at the same time plant processes are speeded up:

  • Leaves continually draw moisture from roots and canes
  • Trees, shrubs, and grass roots rob the rose bed of moisture which scanty rains fall short of replacing. 
  • Cool nights coat the foliage with heavy dew, an ideal medium for the growth of black spot, powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.
  • Thrips, chafers, aphids, cucumber beetles, midges, and above all, red spiders revel in a year-round warm bug paradise. 

Fortunately, this catalog of ills can be overcome, and when it is results are spectacular.

No Substitute for Careful, Proper Rose Planting

For good, strong, heavily-flowering rose bushes there is no substitute for careful planting. Such planting turns hot summers into an asset, promotes strong canes and produces masses of beautiful flowers.

Separate holes for each bush, 18″ inches in diameter and as much deep, make for the economy of time as well as water. Adequate space between bushes, greater than that in cooler areas, provides necessary ventilation, adequate room for rose roots to grow and a minimum of competition for life-giving moisture. 

About 3′ feet between centers is right for hybrid tea roses or large floribundas; lower-growing varieties may be set as close as 2 feet. The 24″-inch depth will be adequate to ensure good drainage except in low, shady places where. in any case, roses have little chance for success.

  • For proper planting remove all the soil from the hole. 
  • Saving the topsoil, half of the total soil should be carted off and replaced with an equal amount of humus. 
  • Well-rotted cow manure best for this purpose. 
  • If not available. peat moss plus a pailful of commercial dried cow manure is satisfactory. 
  • If the soil is clay, a cupful of a good soil conditioner will help. 
  • To this add a coffee can of superphosphate. 
  • Mix all the parts thoroughly. 
  • This mixture will absorb and hold moisture in the hottest, driest weather.

Two Rose Planting Variations In the South

In the South two variations from usual planting methods are followed. 

Variation #1

First, provide a 3″ inch deep “dish” around each plant to contain the mulch and for ease of watering.

Variation #2

Second plant the rose bush “as it grew in the field.” This means the graft bud or graft union may be several inches out of the soil at ground level. The bud is perfectly hardy without cover in the South.

When it is exposed the plant will grow sturdier and new canes will break more readily. Nothing is more discouraging to a rose than a smothered bud.

Fill the “dish” with a good mulch such as strawy cow manure, ground corncobs or aged saw-dust, but if peat moss is used, cover it with pine straw to prevent caking and drying out.

Southern Rose Care

Watering April Through September

Beginning in early April and continuing through September water thoroughly. This means placing the hose in the “dish” and letting the water run until the mulch floats and the water comes up to the surface of the ground. 

Do this once a week unless there has been well over an inch of rain. If in doubt, use the hose. Soaker hoses are also a great option for deep watering roses.

Spraying and Fertilizing Roses in the South

Sprays and fertilizers should only be applied after watering. Even if applied early in the day, the activity of the plant processes due to the heat and pull of the sun will draw up too strong a solution into the leaves unless there is adequate moisture already being circulated. 

Much of what is thought to be a disease is frequently burn from sprays or fertilizers. Foliar feeding should be done immediately after watering, and a half-strength solution used if the weather is consistently hot and dry.

The Best Roses Disease Remedy – Sanitation 

The best remedy for controlling disease on landscape roses is sanitation. 

No spray or dust will be effective if a rose bush is constantly reinfected. 

  • Keep infected leaves picked off the plant and the ground and remove dead canes as they appear. 
  • Cut dead blooms promptly. 
  • In the winter as soon as the canes are bare (either naturally or because as a careful gardener you have picked them off) spray twice, two weeks apart, with a strong dormant spray.
  • Soak the beds as well as the bushes. 
  • As soon as the leafbuds appear, begin spraying weekly with a good general-purpose spray.
  • When the temperature climbs into the 80s, use a spray or dust that does not include sulfur, which is lethal in hot weather.

A miticide in the dust or spray is essential in the South these days. Red spider can reach epidemic proportions and no general-purpose insecticide is completely effective. 

  • Sanitation helps, since the mites winter and generally multiply in weeds. 
  • Pull the weeds out and spray with a miticide several times in the vicinity of the bushes before new growth starts. 
  • When regularly spraying or dusting, cover the ground around the plants.

Pruning Roses In the South

Pruning time is after the middle of February or early spring. 

  • Best results are secured by cutting out dead, diseased, weak long stems, or woody canes to the graft bud. 
  • Leave as a maximum of about four strong canes. 
  • Cut them back to about 30″ inches in the case of big tall bushes, less in lower ones.
  • Clean out the interior of the bush to allow sunlight and free air circulation. 
  • Further pruning is continuous. 
  • Besides eliminating growth already mentioned, cut flowers at the second true leaf cluster on the stem. 
  • This holds true in removing dead blooms as well as buds for the house.

The potentials for spectacular rose results are present in the South, but there is also a need for care beyond that of other areas. Roses do not thrive on neglect in the south. Given proper care, results are all any lover of flowers and beauty could desire.

FGR-0257 – by Allen Albert