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Earth Friendly Rose Gardening


Earth Friendly Rose Gardening

by Jan Tolmasoff, Russian River Rose Co., Healdsburg CA

With a little care and wise variety selection, you can grow roses that are hardy, disease resistant and water thrifty plants. They will give you beauty, fragrance and joy for many, many, many years.

Here are a few tips from Jan, the Rose Lady, that she uses in her garden and nursery at the Russian River Rose Company in Healdsburg.

(If you wish greater detail or have questions, Come to their live presentation: ‘How to Have a Happy Rose Garden’ on April 4 at 10:00 or 2:00. Free/No Reserv. Req.)

1)     Choose Wisely! Select the right rose for the right location - from a large list of disease resistant and easy to grow roses currently available such as Julia Child, Cherry Parfait, Livin’ Easy, Moonstone and the Climber, Westerland, to name a few. Roses need sun and good air circulation, so don’t put them up next to the house under a redwood! Choose roses suited to our cooler Northern California climate.

2)     Plant Well! Dig a BIG HOLE. Resist putting a $20.00 rose in a $2.00 hole! Use Gypsum in the bottom of the hole if you have clay, and a 50/50 mix of native soil and a good amendment to plant into. Add slow release fertilizer as you plant. Attend RRRCo planting demo on April 4 if you want to see all this is action.

3)     Mulch Thickly! Apply a 4-6” layer of well de-composed mulch to all beds after spring pruning and fertilizing.  This helps keep weeds down, moisture in, and it looks really pretty. 

4)     Water Efficiently! Use a simple drip system attached to a timer (battery operated is fine.).  Space ½ gallon per hour emitters around roses, 2 per plant, 18” apart. Water for 1 hour, 2-3 times/week, starting in late April or May, depending on soil moisture.

5)     Eat Pests! Release Lady Bugs for Aphid control.  They will eat and eat - any soft- bodied pest. The secret is to release them at the right time…LadyBugs may be purchased at many local garden centers (Kings, Garretts, Harmony Farms, and others)- Call ahead to be sure they have them in stock. They should be in a refrigerator at the store.  Put them in your refrigerator when you get home and release small amounts IN THE EVENING into the base of rose bushes that have aphids on top. They will then spend the night there and breakfast royally! Beneficial plants: There are many companion plants that help encourage the presence of and provide breeding homes for ladybugs. Our favorites are the perennial dwarf Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa Columbaria) and the annual Allysum (also a beneficial plant for native bees). Easy to grow; Happiness in the garden!!!!

Roses are tough, enduring color for the garden and gorgeous beauty for the vase.