Saturday, September 22, 2018

Autumn in the Rose Garden

Autumn in the Rose Garden

Rosa californica hips
It's official. Summer has ended and autumn is here. The length of night is the same as the length of day. Less light along California's Central Coast doesn't mean growth of rose canes stops, but the grow that does happen is often longer, thinner and more susceptible to the first strong wind that blows.

I stop feeding my roses any chemical fertilizer after Labor Day. It will encourage growth and I want the opposite to happen. October, however, often offers a week or two of sunny warm temperatures and the last flush of flowers - what we call a strong repeat bloom. If you have been feeding the roses throughout the summer, there should be plenty of nutrients in the soil to make the autumn blooms flourish. I often see a much more intense coloration in the petals. The warm, dry weather with sunlight in shorter supply often provides the best color.

Give your roses a little alfalfa now. It's a great tonic with many beneficial properties which will encourage your roses to make good roots during the winter.

Once you seen the last flush of flowers, allow them to form hips. this will help to shut the plant down and get ready for winter. I like to have my roses ready for pruning by January which is now only three months away.

My Rosa californica is off on its own on the side of my potting shed with good reason. It's disease-free, pretty single pink flowers in the spring and summer, and marble-size hips in the fall. It's notorious for wanting to create a hedge. In the wild, the thick hedge it forms allows it to capture blowing leaves to build up the soil and attract nesting birds whose excrement provides a steady supply of fertilizer. It's roots will also secure a bank and therefore prevent erosion. Think about a spot in your garden where a clump of our native rose might do very well. It sends up runners with great regularity so choose a stop away from your hybrid teas and floribundas and, for that matter, your other garden plants and vegetables.

These bright red hips are packed with vitamins and minerals. Wash them, chop them and drop a couple in your teapot.