Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Candelabras in the Garden

Summer is definitely here. With several hot days, the spring rose flush has definitely ended. The good news is that you should be seeing lots of new growth.

Secret, hybrid tea, sending up a candlebara

We were fortunate to have such an incredible weather pattern this season which developed some of the largest, most colorful roses I’ve seen in years. The hot temperatures, of course, shorten the length of time the flowers will stay on the roses. It also means that your gardening time increases as the sooner you remove the spent flowers, the quicker new growth will appear.

Hybrid Tea Candelabras

I’m happy to say that this year I’m seeing lots of candelabras in my garden. Candelabras are those magnificent new canes with a large flush of new blooms on the top. I like to think of them as a “bouquet on a stick.” This usually doesn’t happen on the first flush of blooms but comes along in the next flush. Yes, this year was a great season for good quality blooms early on but it was also, in my garden, the first time in five years that I’ve fed the roses Epsom salts and both a dry organic fertilizer and a MiracleGro type product. (There are several rip-off varieties out there and they are more or less the same thing as the original.)

Blue Girl, hybrid tea, sending up a large candelabra

These candelabras may need some tending, however. We’ve had some windy days which have knocked many of my flower-laden canes over. Get yourself some of those tiny bamboo supports and prop up these great sprays as the main cane might not be sturdy enough to support all the flowers – especially if they get wet in an odd summer shower.

Regularly, remove the spent flowers on candelabras little by little. If there’s one large flower on a short stem right in the middle of the spray, remove that bud early on and you’ll get a better looking flower spray.

Radiant Perfume: it's a grandiflora and they regularly send up large candelabras

Once the candelabra’s last flower is gone, prune it back to where it is a single stem and pick a spot where there’s a bud eye facing the outside of the plant. On some of the larger ones and where space allows, you may wish to keep two of the original four of five canes. I'd recommend pruning down to the bud eye facing outward two leaves up from where the cane branched out. This will ensure that the joint hardens sufficiently to support new, heavier growth above it.

Sacred Heart, hybrid tea, sent up an enormous spray. Only the last two flowers remain.

The Re-bloom Cycle

The cycle usually takes about six weeks. It’s also important to water and feed regularly throughout the long summer. Water is the most important factor in new growth, even more so than food. Look at the ground beneath your rose bush. If it looks dry on the surface, it probably wants more water. If the temperatures are above 80 degrees or if there have been long sustainable periods of dry air and wind, you need to water at least twice a week.

Water in the early morning, if there’s a chance of the leaves getting wet. Water in the evening, if you can hold the hose under the bush. If you are on a drip system, start watering around 4 a.m. and make sure during the day that all the emitters are in the right spot and working. Leaves which stay wet for more than four or five hours are an invitation for airborne fungus spores to attach themselves and hatch.

I like to feed the roses something about every two or three weeks during the growing season. “Something” is not a particularly helpful word, I know, but it happens to be, for me, whatever is on sale. Giving your roses just a little bit of food almost every time you water is more important than a whole lot of fertilizer a couple of times during the year. Food helps you get the maximum result out of your roses. Remember to water well the day before and then feed the next day with just a little water to soak it in.

Organic food (blood, bone and hoof, kelp meal, fish fertilizer) needs time to be in the soil and breakdown into nutrients the rose can readily absorb. If you provide a little organic every time you feed, you’ll always have something in the soil in various stages of breakdown.

For established roses, you could just stop everything right now and your roses most likely won’t die. But, you as a gardener are the tender of their ability to perform well. Keep them watered and give them food and make the effort to get good results -- it's worthwhile to your own self-satisfaction.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

2020 - A Great Rose Year

Westerland, shrub

Hands down this has been one of the most spectacular spring rose blooms in history. 

Santa Cruz rosarian Joe Ghio says it’s the best year of his entire 70-plus years of growing roses.

Along California's Central Coast, we had a chilly, dry February which came, of course, right on the heels of our pruning regime. This truly put the roses to rest. March brought us rain right when the roses started growing. Additions of alfalfa pellets and Epsom salt super kick-started the growth in my garden. I hadn’t done the Epsom salt cure in years. 

A month later, my application of a good rose fertilizer and some watering pushed the blossoms up and out. The sunny but cool days of April allowed the buds to develop and bloom gloriously.

The recent hot and sunny days hurried up the bloom cycle and now we all ended up with lots of home dead heading to do.

But before this spring is in the distant past, here are some photos of my best roses.
The Black Prince, hybrid perpetual

Blue Girl, hybrid tea

Gloire des Rosomanes, (Ragged Robin), hybrid china

Secret, hybrid tea

Isfahan, damask

China Doll, polyantha

Margaret Merril, floribunda

Rosa woodsii fendleri, species

Tahitian Sunset, hybrid tea

Charles de Mills, gallica

Isfahan, damask

Nur Mahal, hybrid musk
Sally Holmes, hybrid musk