This is the time of year when the roses have come into their full glory. I see 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 Tbsp. 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 water.
—Elizabeth (BHN alumna and extraordinary rosarian)