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.

yellow rose and bud - Illustration by Helen KrayenhoffMy 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)