July, August and the first couple weeks of September can be trying months for the rosarian in parts of the country where there can be high heat. It is easy for plants to become stressed and extra care needs to be given now to ensure not only the viability of the rose bush but those awesome fall blooms to come. Small blooms are common in the summer as the heat causes the bloom to develop very quickly limiting petal count and size. This is normal.
1. Water, water water. If your roses are in raised beds, it is impossible to water them too much. At a minimum, in hot summer days I would water every third day and give them a deep soaking. If your plants are in pots, you will need to water daily and in some cases, more than once a day depending on pot and plant size. Be sure to have a saucer under the pot during hot summer months. This will act as a water reservoir for the pot to absorb as the plant takes up the moisture in the soil. If you have plants that continually need watering, consider adding some water crystals to your mix. These will greatly improve the amount of water that can be captured in the soil.
I used the photo above to make a point……… despite what you may have been told, overhead watering is okay if you have a good preventative spray program. In fact, in very hot areas, this will give the roses a “cool down” they can really use. The downside…… it’s a bit hard on blooms. :)
2. Don’t let up on your preventative spray program. Contrary to some old “spray stories” going around, it is not unsafe to spray your roses at temperatures over 80 degrees. This might have been true when many pesticides were oil based. However, most modern pesticides are water based and they WILL NOT harm your roses when sprayed at higher temperatures AS LONG AS YOUR ROSES ARE WELL HYDRATED BEFORE YOU SPRAY. So it goes back to “water”. Be sure and give your roses a deep watering the day before you spray. Now I’m not saying I think you should spray when it’s 105 degrees outside. While it may not hurt the roses it can hurt the rosarian by overheating. Use common sense. A few other spray tips: Don’t spray when there is dew on the roses. This will only dilute the chemical concentration and therefore make the whole application worthless. Don’t spray so late in the evening that the spray does not dry before dusk. Long contact times of the liquid pesticide can cause burning.
3. Continue to feed your roses. I prefer liquid feeding so I use a water soluble fertilizer like Mills Easyfeed. One tablespoon in one gallon of water per bush every three to four weeks will greatly reward you. Again, make sure your roses are well hydrated BEFORE you feed.
4. Check the pH of your soil. Now would be a good time to invest in a accurate and reliable pH meter. In most cases this is a one-time investment that will pay big rewards. The pH of your soil should be between 6.0 and 6.5 for your roses to thrive. Lower or higher pH values won’t allow the rose to use the nutrients in the fertilizers you give them. I will talk about how to lower and raise pH in another blog.
5. Last but not least, consider removing the salt buildup in your rose beds. Years of chemical fertilizers leave sodium and other salts in your soil. Over time these have a negative effect and this may be the reason the rose bed that looked so good two or three years ago doesn’t look as good this year. There is a product called “Clearex” that works miracles on the salt buildup issue. I strongly recommend you do a search on the Rosemania product pages for Clearex and read more about this product. It can be the difference in having to replace your soil or not.