Roses are often thought of as being delicate and hard to grow and they do take a little more care than many other types of flowers. It is an old wives tale that you can’t grow roses without the aid of chemicals. They do take a little special care, and they can be grown without chemicals. Old roses are especially resilient, but the delicate tea rose can successfully be grown without any chemical products at all.
It is especially important to remember that any plant will resist disease and pests if it is healthy to begin with. Pests zero in on plants that might have a problem and disease hits plants that are not in the best of health to begin with. If your roses are healthy, they will be able to withstand any pest invasion and avoid disease.
Always be sure to choose a variety of rose that is suitable for your area. Your local nursery can help you there. They will tell you which type grows best and what kind of soil it requires. Tea roses need hot weather and sometimes they don’t winter over very well in cold areas. Old fashioned Rugosa roses overwinter beautifully even in the coldest weather. Ask your nursery what rose strains are resistant to diseases that might be in your area.
Common Soil Requirements.
Most roses enjoy rich, loose soil. Add compost to the garden bed and they will be happy in their spot. They also like soil with a slight acidic pH at about 6.0 to 6.5, so be sure to do a soil test and add additives to get the pH as close as possible.
Never plant rose bushes close together as you are inviting disease to set in. Keep them far enough apart to get a good air flow going. Roses like to have plenty of water, so if you live in an area that isn’t getting at least 1 inch of rainfall in a week, supplement water.
Water left on leaves can invite certain diseases so only water when it is sunny. Keep the roots mulched so the water stays near the roots longer. Place 2 to 4 inches of mulch around the base of each of your roses. Should any of the plant become damaged, remove the damaged area right away. Bugs will detect a broken leaf faster than you can believe and they will be on that rose bush in an instant.
Companion Planting Technique.
Several plants can be situated near rose beds to deter pests and disease. Nasturtiums, garlic and chives will get rid of aphids. A border of chives around a rose bed doesn’t look half bad either. Rosemary, geraniums and thyme will attract other insects that eat aphids, like lady bugs.
Get rid of any leaves or branches that might become diseased right away. Don’t put them in your compost pile or you will be spreading that disease to all corners of your garden. Blackspot is a real problem on roses and it is usually caused by bad air circulation.
You may have planted rose bushes too close together. Baking soda solution can sometimes get rid of black spot. A solution made from 1 part regular milk and 2 parts water, sprayed on the leaves of the rose and left to air dry, tends to get rid of blackspot. Replace after it rains to reduce blackspot.
Powdery Mildew is another condition caused by bad air circulation around bushes. The leaves get a white, powdery looking stuff on them and they may turn yellow and fall off. Use a vinegar bath to help get rid of mildew using 2 tablespoons of vinegar to 1 gallon of water and spray it on the leaves and let them air dry. Restore every time you water or after a rain.
Another solution is to use a baking powder spray with 1 tablespoon baking soda added to a gallon of water. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 2 to 3 drops Dawn dish washing liquid. The oil and soap help the solution stick to the leaves. Apply to leaves about 2 times per week. This will also help with black spot. Make sure to prune your rose bushes so there is adequate air circulation all around the plant. If they are planted too close together, move them.
Tie a leaf of chives to the affected rose bush to get rid of aphids. Garlic works too. Use the baking soda solution for powdery mildew for aphids. The oil sticks to their skin, blocks their pores and kills them. Either release or plant flowering plants that certain predatory insects like around your roses. Ladybugs, assassin buts, pirate buts and lacewings all eat aphids and eradicate them from your rose garden.
Roses do take a little special care and time, but they are very worth it in the end. It is possible to grow organic roses and it doesn’t take as much work as you think. Remember that most roses are edible and if you are going to put them in salads or breads, you don’t want them laden with chemicals.