Contra Costa Rose Society

President's Message

 
 
                                                        
President’s Message
 
 
It’s time to fertilize and water your roses. They are now initiating the strongest growth of the year. If you want to take advantage of this limited-time offer, you must provide you roses with adequate water and fertilizer, NOW.

The watering part is easy. A three to five foot rose plant requires five gallons of water at the root zone, each week. That’s the bare minimum. If you wish for your plants to truly thrive, that same amount applied twice weekly is better.

Larger plants will require more water, smaller ones less. You know how to do this. 

Rose plants which are grown permanently in containers must be watered thoroughly every day, all year ‘round. Summer’s heat and vigorously-growing plants will quickly deplete the water in even the largest containers.

Containers that freeze even slightly will release their water when they thaw. Even mildly cold weather is quite harmful to rose plants that are dry. It is for this reason that containerized roses must be watered every day, even in the winter.

If the media in a container becomes foul or sour, you either are using the wrong type or the holes in the bottom of the container have become plugged.

Fertilizing is potentially one of the most confusing aspects of gardening. Contrary to popular belief, roses are not heavy feeders. Rather they require a constant, moderate, level of fertilizer. In this regard, they’re kind of like you and me; they like to eat every day.

There are many ways which you can provide this constant moderate level of fertilizer to your rose plants require in order to thrive. Of these, I recommend just three methods:

Option one: Fish emulsion fertilizer contains a uniquely-wonderful suite of nutrients which will benefit all rose plants. I strongly recommend using fish emulsion fertilizer on your rose plants.

There is a down-side to using fish emulsion fertilizer, however; in order for it to effective in situations where it is used as the sole fertilizer source, it must be applied every two weeks from early January until about October first.

Using this option, fertilize your plants every two of weeks with fish emulsion fertilizer. Add one each measured, level, Tablespoon of Fish Emulsion per measured gallon of water. Apply one each gallon of this solution to each rose plant that is from six inches to three feet in height.

Rose plants which from four to six feet tall will require two gallons of the same fish emulsion/water solution. 

Rose plants which from seven to ten feet tall will require three gallons of the same fish emulsion/water solution. 

In low-elevation areas of central California, I recommend applying Fish Emulsion fertilizer beginning in early January and continuing until about October 1st.

CAUTION! Mix or use Fish Emulsion Fertilizer in a well-ventilated area. Always use goggles which are rated for use with liquid chemicals when handling or using Fish Emulsion Fertilizer. Wear an appropriate mask or respirator and gloves when handling or using Fish Emulsion Fertilizer.  

Option two:  Timed-release fertilizer products allow you to easily and inexpensively give your plants the constant, moderate, levels of fertilizer that they require for sustained, strong growth. Apply a timed-release fertilizer which has a long release duration, such as the Apex-brand, 15.6.11 formulation, twice yearly.

In low-elevation areas of central California, I recommend applying an appropriate timed-release fertilizer product to your roses once in January and once again in early July. 

Rose plants which are six to 12 inches tall will require on each, measured, level, Tablespoon of the Apex-brand, 15.6.11 formulation, in each of two annual applications.

Rose plants which are 18 inches to four-feet-tall will require 1/4 measured, level cup in each of two annual applications.

Rose plants up to from eight to ten feet tall will require ½ measured, level, cup of the Apex-brand, 15.6.11 formulation, in each of two annual applications.

Note; all timed-release fertilizer products must be totally buried beneath the soil, in order for them to work properly. I recommend scratching a circular trench that is no more than one inch deep in a circle completely around the plant.

With miniature rose, this circle will be about 12 inches in diameter. With three-foot plants, it should be about two feet in diameter.

With larger climbers, it should be at least three feet in diameter.

BEWARE! Many timed-release fertilizer products have very short release duration times. I recommend using a timed-release fertilizer product that has a longer. In low-elevation areas of Central California, even the longest-duration timed-release fertilizer product will normally be exhausted in about five months. 

Option three: Combined use of both timed-release and fish emulsion fertilizers.

Fish Emulsion Fertilizer contains a uniquely-wonderful suite of nutrients which will benefit all rose plants, even those which are fertilized using a timed-release fertilizer product.

With this option, an appropriate timed-release fertilizer product should be applied in the same, exact way that was recommended in option two. 

Using a combined fish emulsion/timed release fertilizer method, fish emulsion will be applied in the same manner as was recommended in option one. The difference comes in that when it is use in conjunction with a timed-release fertilizer product, fish emulsion should only be used about once per month.

Good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I see ya’ll at the next meeting. Happy February.
 

- Tom Liggett

February 2014