Rosa Rugosa - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffNow is when the roses have come into their full glory and many are gearing up for a second round of blooms. I have seen them showing off all over Berkeley, where every block seems to have at least several traffic-stopping displays. It’s also the time when many roses start to have problems with insects and disease, and people start calling the nursery for advice.

My philosophy when caring for roses is: keep it safe and simple. Roses are to be enjoyed; life is too short to let them become tyrants. Here are a few easy steps that will help keep your roses beautiful all summer.

  1. To prevent powdery mildew, spray every 10 days with a mixture of 2 tsp. baking soda plus 2 Tbs. horticultural oil per gallon of water. This also kills aphids and other insects.
  2. To prevent rust and blackspot, prune out inner branches to increase light and air circulation, and remove lower leaves up to 18 inches from the soil.
  3. To increase flowering, dead-head regularly, and feed every four weeks with a balanced organic rose food. Don’t forget to deep water.