For the first time in 30 years, Bench’s Greenhouse on State Rt. 2 in Curtice isn’t offering the hundreds of roses usually lined in rows for the customer’s picking.
“The demand has gone way down,” co-owner Cindy Bench said. “Folks see horror stories about disease, and then they bloom and then don’t bloom.”
A rose plant might be the scorn of the growing world, but it’s possible the rose is the misunderstood partner in this relationship, growers say. The longtime symbol of love and friendship just needs to meet its enemies head on, with help from you, the gardener.
Here are the top 10 adversaries of the rose from local growers, and some tips on how to avoid them, if possible:
This one you can’t do much about, but it’s a biggie.
“When it comes right down to it, you are fooling with Mother Nature every time you say, ‘OK, June 9 or 10 I’m going to have roses,’ “ said Toledo Rose Society president Audrey Palumbo, who has more than 150 rose plants in her Perrysburg garden. “We play Russian Roulette every year with the calendar.”
Doing everything else right, as well as a little hope and prayer are what gets you through, Ms. Palumbo said.
Temperatures are another thing you can’t control, but Jenny Amstutz, manager of Nature’s Corner in Holland, said you can prevent disease and insects brought by muggy weather by using multicomponent products up front, such as All-in-One Flower Care by Bayer Advance. The product is an insecticide, fungicide, and fertilizer, and should be applied at the base at the beginning of the season, and then every six to eight weeks, she said.
“It’s kind of like getting a flu shot. If you can treat them early on, you prevent the disease,” she said.
Knockout Roses are for sale Friday, June 1, 2018, at Nature's Corner at Glass City Landscape in Toledo.
Speaking of insects, the Japanese beetle likes roses, but roses don’t like them. They suck the juice out of rose leaves, and eat the petals.
“They will get into a nice beautiful rose and put a hole right smack through the center,” Ms. Palumbo said.
Beetle bags or traps will bring additional beetles, she said. Likewise, smashing them will do the same. She recommends spraying them with a three-in-one product like Bayer, or brushing them off into a bottle of water to drown them.
There is also a natural insecticide called neem oil that can be sprayed on rose plants, Ms. Bench said.
Right plant, wrong location
Roses need space, air, and sunshine, and lots of it.
“Someone will plant a lot of roses in one spot and there’s not a lot of air movement, so you will get fungus,” Ms. Amstutz said.
Ms. Bench recommends six full hours of sun.
“Morning sun doesn’t count — that’s pretend sun. There are no heat units in it,” Ms. Bench said.
They come in dark of night, and leave after sucking the life out of your toil and trouble.
“You can have a whole mass of beautiful roses and deer can come along and chomp, chomp, chomp, and all the blossoms are gone,” Ms. Palumbo said.
If a fence isn’t feasible, Ms. Palumbo recommends any of the products that repel deer without hurting them.
“Sometimes it isn’t the greatest smell, but you might still have your roses left,” she said.
Watering at the base of a rose plant to avoid getting the leaves wet, in the morning or evening, is key. Wet leaves cause a fungus called black spot on the leaves.
“You want to keep those leaves dry. Water low and slow,” Ms. Bench said.
Hoytville clay, a dark-colored, poorly draining soil found in northwest Ohio, northeast Indiana, and southeast Michigan, can wreak havoc on your roses from underneath.
Ms. Palumbo recommends creating a strong, clay-resistant plant by planting roses first in biodegradable fiber pots with potting soil about a month or two before the growing season. Keep them in a greenhouse or garage until it’s time to plant in March.
Knockout Roses and Double Knockout Roses at Nature's Corner at Glass City Landscape in Toledo.
When you do put your plant in the ground, give it lots of space, digging a hole that is several inches wider than the root ball. Add some compost, a good dose of water, and some fertilizer water in the bottom of the hole before dropping the root ball in and backfilling the hole with soil, Ms. Bench said. Build a moat-like bowl around the plant so the water drains down into the soil.
“It doesn’t do any good if it runs off into the yard,” Ms. Bench said.
Ignoring end-of-season care
You won’t be sorry if you prepare your roses for the cold temperatures. Prep work includes things you don’t do just as much as things you do, such as eliminating fertilizer and the process of deadheading in late summer or early fall to allow the plant to go dormant.
Clean up old debris around the bush, and cover the center of the rose bush with a mount of dirt and mulch for protection.
Ignore the horror stories. Look at the beauty you can create with a flower that boasts dozens of species and colors. Take a chance. Plant a rose.
“Yes, you, too, can grow roses in northwest Ohio,” Ms. Palumbo said.
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