Starting now, there is much we can do in September to influence or improve the performance of the roses in our gardens.
By early September it might be evident from the new growth that some roses were not pruned enough in July. If there are criss-crossing stems or some that are obviously too close to each other, they can still be cut out.
Finger or pinch pruning
The most important task is to pinch prune or finger prune to encourage new basal growth and force the production of green leaves which feed the plant and keep the roots active.
Finger pruning is simply the pinching out of the terminal point of about a third of the new shoots on a bush. For example, out of 15 stems, the tips of five are pinched out, using the thumb and pointing finger. Within a week the reddish-purplish leaves will mature to green and the very upper eye will resprout.
This only applies to hybrid teas because the leaf mass on climbers, shrub, groundcover roses, miniatures and larger cluster flowering floribundas is much more so they don’t require pinch pruning for a better performance.
Finger pruning also spreads out the flowering cycle so that there is an almost continual supply of roses instead of one of two main flushes. Staggering the flowering also means that when the flush starts, less blooms are cut off at once so the roots don’t go into ‘root shock’, which can set a bush back by two or three weeks.
Many hybrid tea roses produce two and even more side buds in theupper leaf axles. If left on they will develop into nice, somewhat smallerflowers and add to the overall floriferousness of the bush.
It is not necessary to disbud every stem on a bush. Simply select those that already show promise of becoming champion roses and leave others untouched.
Pinching out the terminal bud of clusters results in a more uniform flowerperformance. It alleviates having to cut out the spent centre bloom when therest of the clusters shows off at its freshest. Miniatures that may beselected for exhibitions or for picking need to be disbudded.
Confusion still exists between basal or water shoots and sucker shoots that sprout from below the root stem of a budded rose.
It used to be a problem 50 years ago when nurserymen used another rootstock. Now it seldom occurs and the smaller GREEN leaves and smooth stems differentiate them easily. If it really is a sucker stem coming out of the ground then it needs to be ripped out or cut out by pushing the blade of a spade between it and the rose and pushing downward.
The basal or water shoots are of utmost importance to the rejuvenation of the rose and should NEVER be cut or pulled off.
By pinching out the terminal when they have reached about knee height the basal starts maturing immediately and sprouts with three to five new stems, which will become the nicest cut flowers.
The more water made available to the roots at this stage the longer the flowering stems will be. Stems pumped full of water will make better and longer lasting cut flowers compared to those that have adjusted to once a week water wise pattern.
If the roses are not already on a feeding programme, an application of fertiliser around 20 September will encourage the sprouting of dormant eyes lower down on the bush as well as basal shoot formation.
For perfect roses preventative spraying is essential. It is not really necessary to really know the names of all the insects, spiders and fungus diseases that will use the lush rose leaves and buds for breeding and feeding.
The best overall covering is achieved by alternating fortnightly with Ludwig's Insect Spray and a "cocktail" made up of Funginex, Garden Ripcord, vinegar and Ludwig's Spray Stay or a spreader i.e. G49.
In the winter rainfall region add Dithane WG or Coppercount N to the Insect Spray and to the cocktail.
Information supplied by Ludwig Taschner of Ludwig’s Roses. For more information contact , or www.ludwigsroses.co.za or telephone 012 5440144.