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Roses - Cultivation

( Originally Published 1914 )

IF the directions given in this book for location, preparation of bed, ordering, planting and pruning have been followed, the really hard work is over and the most pleasant part is ahead. The actual culture of the rose is very easy and agreeable. Beyond a little spring and autumn care, some spraying and the weeding of the beds, there is not much work to be done. In the spring, after the frost is out of the ground, take off the covering of the bed, whether it be litter or only leaves. The little mounds should now be raked down so that the bed is level, and if the roses were covered with litter the greater part of it, especially the straw, should be removed, and the manure that is left should be forked into the bed; but not to the extent of disturbing the roots. After the roses are pruned, the next thing is the feeding of the plants in order to give a particularly fine growth.

In the bed itself, there is enough manure to furnish the roots with food for many years, but to secure the best results feed the roots from the surface. Wood ashes and bone meal may be alternately forked into the bed after growth has begun. Another good food is liquid manure water in the proportion of half a bushel of manure to a barrel of water weak and often" is the old gardener's recipe. Dr. Huey advocates watering heavily during dry conditions before such feeding.

Blood diluted with water is sometimes used. Mr. Frederick W. Taylor applied this alternately with manure water; his recipe is five pounds of blood to a barrel of water. After mixing, permit the blood to settle, then draw off the greater part of the water; use the same blood in the same manner twice again, five pounds making three mixtures.

In April or May the shoots should begin to grow, and very shortly the buds themselves will appear and gradually turn into blooms. On certain varieties, too few unfortunately, there is only one terminal bud on each growth; on a great many, small buds will appear close to the larger ones; these should be carefully removed as naturally they take a certain amount of sustenance, and the main bloom will develop better and will be of finer quality if it receives all the nourishment. It does not take very long to go over the plants and disbud all these smaller flower buds, and unless nothing but a mass of color is preferred remove them. This can be easily and quickly done by hand.

It will be found that all the young buds and leaves are covered with little, light green insects—Green Flies or Aphides, which are common pests in rose gardens. There is a very effective remedy for them which will greatly check their future development; this is to spray with a solution of tobacco stems and whale oil soap. The best proportions are as follows: Two ounces of tobacco stems to a bucket of water, to which add an ounce of whale oil soap, first dissolved in a small quantity of hot water. It will take about three hours for this to dissolve. It should then be added to the tobacco mixture. Doctor H. A. Surface, the Zoologist of the State of Pennsylvania, recommends a mixture of one ounce of Blackleaf No, 40 with five gallons of water. This is more convenient than the infusion with tobacco stems and gives the same result. It may be bought at seed stores.

Add 7 1/2 oz. of soft soap to the above so that the spray will adhere to the foliage. The Aphides are quickly destroyed with this spray and a gallon of the mixture by careful application is enough for from fifteen to twenty-five rose plants; by applying with an ordinary whisk broom it will take care of fifty plants and can be done as well, but it requires more time in applying than with the sprayer. Spray three days in succession.

By this time the ground will naturally need weeding. It seems hardly necessary to go into details regarding the proper method. An ordinary scratch hoe, as the gardener terms it, will quickly take out the weeds and also destroy some of those not yet up. Care must be taken not to hurt the rose roots.

As the days become warmer and the ground drier take more care of the plants. Keep the earth broken up in the beds and do not permit it to form a hard cake or crust, as it will do if left alone. This breaking up should be done twice a week. In addition to this consider feeding the roses further for the very best blooms. For this purpose ordinary manure water, as described above, is the best possible food and perhaps easiest to secure in most places. When the` roses are fully formed, withhold manure water until after the first crop, apply again as each succeeding crop of buds commences to develop. Roses need a slight rest between crops. If a mulch has been used, there will be very little weeding and no breaking up of dried earth necessary and the moisture should be well conserved in the beds.

Watering is necessary in very dry weather if the ground becomes thoroughly baked, but never water late in the day. The plants should go to sleep with dry foliage, otherwise mildew will develop. Roses should always be watered early in the morning before the temperature rises—it is unnatural to water them during heat—they are accustomed to cool temperature with rain. Mildew is a disease of the leaves which appears when there is too much moisture. The use of peat moss will render watering to some extent unnecessary.

One other plague to watch for is the rose slug, which chews the leaves. This pest must be destroyed by a stronger preparation than tobacco leaves, as it is very hardy and not as quickly disposed of as the little green bug. The very best remedy is powdered white hellebore. Make a solution of two tablespoonfuls in a bucket of boiling water, and after it has cooled apply it with a whisk broom under the leaves. For the larger leaf eaters and borers it is necessary to pick by band.

Watch carefully for any sprouts of the Manetti or, other stock; on which the roses themselves are budded or grafted. The cutting off of these suckers from the root itself is the proper remedy for this enemy to the growth of the plant.

Rose bugs or beetles are really the worst pests. The only cure has been to pick by hand, dropping them into kerosene.

So the plants work on through the hotter part of the summer and now towards its close the nights commence to become cooler and the days are still quite warm; the air itself is very moist and humid. This occurs usually in the latter part of August, and this change from eighty degrees or more in the day-time to sixty degrees or less in the night is one which the rose foliage does not like. When there is also great humidity mildew is liable to occur. A good remedy is grape dust, which can be obtained in any seed store. Another fine remedy is a solution of sulphide of potassium, one-quarter of an ounce to a gallon of water, to which add one and one-half ounces of common soft soap or one-half ounce of Fels-Naphtha soap. The soap should be boiled be-fore being added to the solution. Always spray early in the morning, and if mildew has already appeared, spray early in the morning after each heavy rain. During the past year Bordeaux Mixture has proved the best preparation for the prevention of mildew. This may be purchased already mixed and with directions for use, at any seed store.

Black spot is another disease which sometimes comes towards the end of the summer. It is experienced mostly in potted greenhouse plants. If only dormant field-grown stock is used the disease is not so prevalent. Dr. Huey concurs in this opinion and, as a cure, advocates picking off and burning affected leaves as soon as they appear. Last year a formaldehyde solution was used with fair success, but black spot is most difficult to eradicate.

The "American Florist," in its issue of June 14, 1914, has a very interesting article on black spot treatment, taken from publications of the National Rose Society of England. The main point in the article is that black spot is a fungous disease which invades the living tissues of the plant and there reproduces itself by means of spores on the leaves. To combat the disease formaldehyde is suggested and is supposed to be absorbed by the tissues of the plant and to kill the spores on the leaves. This article further states that it is considered advisable to use the formaldehyde as a spray, not only on the leaves and stems, but also to have the solution reach the plant through the soil. To accomplish this result it is advised that "the cool of a calm evening in summer when the soil had been previously loosened, and moistened if necessary, would be ideal." In the treatment referred to above it is necessary, in order to secure the proper results, to spray as soon as the buds begin to open early in the spring, and for this early spraying two tablespoonfuls of commercial formaldehyde are diluted in a gallon of water; for later spraying when the plant is in full growth one-half strength is used, i. e., one tablespoonful to a gallon of water, and the weaker spray used at intervals of a week or ten days through the growing season. Where black spot has gained a firm hold on the plants, it is also advocated that a solution of double strength be used in February.

Professor L. M. Massey and Professor Whetzel, of Cornell, are making investigations of diseases of roses. This work is most valuable and considerable progress has been made in dividing and classifying. It has been discovered that there are a number of different diseases which have generally been designated as black spot.

In this connection, it is most important that this research be given all the help possible throughout the country by rose growers, as the workers are most anxious to have specimens showing diseases on rose bushes sent to them. It would be best, where the entire plant is affected, to send the plant with the roots, but the soil is not of any moment. In the case of leaves, it is better not to wet them but to place in newspaper, and send by mail.

It has been thought that black spot was merely a ripening of the leaves of the plant, and a natural condition. At Cornell it has been proved that black spot is absolutely traceable to a fungous growth, and Professor Massey is quoted: "The organism can be isolated at will, and the disease readily produced by inoculations."

As the nights become still colder the blooms will, of course, take longer to develop; nevertheless the roses make a fight to give flowers and the late bloomers continue to do so until about the middle of November. From the middle to the last of November is the time roses should be given 'proper winter protection.

The first thing to do with all ordinary bushes is to cut them down to an approximate height of a foot and a half. They will nearly all die down to this height or below in any event, and by cutting off the bushy tops damage by high wind is prevented. The mulch should at this time be removed and saved for the following spring.

The matter of hilling up has been noted, but is so

important that it is repeated. It consists of heaping the ground up around the bush. It is well to add some top soil to the bed and hoe this up in a little mound around each plant to a height not less than six inches above the bed level.

Mr. H. J. Staples, of Biddeford, Maine, who has tried a number of roses advocated in our former editions with very good success, claims that in his section it is better to make the hills around the roses twelve inches in height. By this method he lost only twelve out of seventy-five roses during the winter of 1915-1916. It is also interesting to note that he reports the blooming of the roses, with very few exceptions, to be identical with the records given for the Middle Atlantic States.

With the Hybrid Perpetuals and the very hardiest of the Hybrid Teas this hilling up is not really necessary, but there are very many beautiful varieties which must be brought through the winter by this method.

After the roses are hilled up, wait until the ground freezes before placing the litter on the beds. No insects or mice will then inhabit it during the winter and injure the green wood of the canes. Another good way is to fill the spaces between the little mounds with autumn leaves or meadow hay, with enough earth spread over the top to keep them from blowing away. This is an easy method and undoubtedly adds warmth to the beds.

In the extreme North, the best protection is to lay down and cover with waterproof building paper, which in turn should be covered with earth.

After the winter is over it is better to remove the litter or leaves too early rather than too late, because they will rapidly heat up under the influence of the warm spring sun and the buds of the rose canes will be forced into breaking too early, when any later heavy frost will severely kill back the young shoots so started by the heat. It is therefore advisable to take this covering from the roses when the frost is out of the ground and before the heat of the sun be-comes great and lasting.

Standard roses should be most carefully protected. Try placing around them a rough box made of boards and filling it with earth, covering well above the junction of the strong growing stalk with the rose itself. Another good method often used is to bend down the entire plant after carefully loosening the roots and to place it in a trench and cover it heavily with earth.

Most Hybrid Wichuraiana and other climbers will come through the winter well by themselves. Others, however, winter kill more or less, not enough to kill the plant itself but to destroy parts of the main stems. The Wichuraiana climbers bloom upon the wood of the preceding year, and if such wood is lacking and the rose has to throw up new shoots there will be no bloom. If the main shoots are killed back the few existing blooms will be low down, so that in the far north it would be well to bend down the canes and protect them with the usual blanket of earth and waterproof building paper.

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