If you haven’t yet pruned the roses, it is time to put them out of their misery.
Even if the roses have buds, flowers and leaves, they are scraggly and make the garden look untidy.
Only in very cold areas, like icy parts of the Vaal triangle, is it better to prune towards the end of August. The reason for this is that a frost in early September would burn the new growth.
By pruning later, sprouting only occurs after the danger of frost has passed. Otherwise, late pruning is better than not pruning.
Roses are deciduous, and the leaves store food beneath the bark as food to fuel sprouting in spring. Once they start sprouting, water from the roots bypasses the old leaves on the way to the new shoots at the top of the bush.
The old leaves dry out and become a haven for spider mites and even fungus diseases. That is why any remaining leaves on a pruned bush should be pulled off.
Roses that were pruned in mid-July should start sprouting in mid-August. Once the sprouts appear it is easy to see where the strongest new growth is and cut down to that, which channels the energy into a strong new stem.
It is also easier to see if stems are too close to one another. As a guideline the space between stems should be 20cm.
How to spot an unhappy rose
If a rose immediately makes small green leaves instead of spike-like sprouts, it is an indication that the roots are unhappy. It is likely caused by a lack of air and water, mostly due to soil compaction. Dig an inspection hole next to a bush and check the soil quality and its moisture level.
There is still time to spread compost and material like peanut shells and crushed apricot pips around a bush or over the whole bed. Add Vigo-longer and dig in everything to a depth of at least 20cm, mixing it well with the turned over soil. Another option is to spike the root zone with a digging fork, pushing in the tines all the way down, and moving it backwards and forwards, to make holes.
Spread compost and other organics over the holes and flood water it down. The same applies to roses growing in large containers or bricked up beds.
Tasks for August
Roses need deep watering once a week. It is helpful to know how much water is provided by a sprinkler system. Placing a rain gauge place at different points in a rose bed will show how many mm was applied over a set time.
Roses need around 15mm per watering. If water run-off is a problem in sloping beds, a type of water holding basin around the rose. Magnificent ‘Magaliesberg Rose’ is a pavement showstopper.
For blooms like this in October, prune before Thursday. will ensure that the water gets to the roots of the roses and does not run away. Once the bushes start making their first leaves, drenching with Koinor is a good preventative method for sucking insects such as thrips and aphids.
Suckering stems from the root stock seldom occurs. Suckers have smallish green leaves and the stems have no prickles whereas new basal shoots have juicy, reddish stems that sprout from the base of the bush.
They will provide us with the best blooms throughout the season. Youngish roses planted a few months earlier can be pruned back or you can wait until such water shoots sprout and then cut away all the initial inside stems.