You can “go green” with roses! With a bit of planning, observation, and care, it’s simple. So get ready to set aside those chemicals and see just how successful you can be. Here are seven steps to set you on the path to success.
Select the Right Rose For successful green gardening add pest and disease resistance to your criteria for selecting roses. Luckily there are many beautiful roses from which to choose. To find out which roses have natural disease and pest resistance:
- Read the description or label on the rose plant. Look for “disease resistant rose” .
- Consult lists of disease resistant roses. For example, Texas A&M University has conducted stringent trials of roses. Those that have thrived for years with no chemical treatment have been designated Earth Kind™ roses.
- View roses that are grown without chemicals in public gardens, such as U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, DC. Visit regularly and note the roses that remain in the garden for several years. Those varieties are good candidates for your garden.
- Plant your rose in the right place. Roses like a minimum of six hours of direct sun, good drainage, and enough space to have good air circulation. Enrich your planting hole with compost. The right place helps the plant to stay healthy and resist pests and diseases.
- Inspect your rose bush regularly. Look the entire bush over, including the underside of leaves where pests like to hide. If you see indications of pests or disease such as black spots or wilted unopened flower buds, take a sample of the damage to a garden center help desk for identification. If you are a member of the Potomac Rose Society, ask a “consulting rosarian” for advice.
- Remove roses that do not remain healthy. Be ruthless. Even a rose that is labeled disease resistant does not perform the same way in every garden. This area’s hot humid climate can be challenging for some roses. If your rose develops blackspot consistently, remove it from the garden. “Shovel pruning” is often the best way to rid your garden of persistent diseases, and especially pests. The good news is you make space to try a new rose.
- Keep your rose bush clean. Remove dead leaves and weeds away from the base of rose plant regularly. Mulch lightly around the plant, but not up to the base.
- Increase the diversity of plants in your garden with special attention to those that attract birds and beneficial insects like lady bugs. Add some native plants as hosts for butterflies and beneficial insects. Birds are attracted to plants that offer berries or cover. Avoid planting mildew-prone plants close to your rose.
- Use organic soil amendments and treatments. Get acquainted with compost, fish emulsion, etc. Contact your county extension agent to learn the details about where and how to have your soil tested. (University of the District of Columbia, University of Delaware, Virginia Tech University) Follow the test result recommendations. If you decide to use pesticides and fungicides, read product labels and look for the OMRI seal to avoid synthetic chemicals. Try certified organic or home made treatments. Follow directions—more is not better. When purchasing roses, select those grow on their own roots when possible.