Consulting Rosarian Report 
September  2010

By Jolene Adams

September is the beginning of Fall in my garden. There will be periods of very warm days followed by cool nights, but inexorably the days grow cooler and the evening air is misty with dampness blowing off San Francisco Bay.

 The roses are a riot of bloom here in the early weeks of September.  This is their big burst of color before they wind down for the colder months.  They will still sputter along in late October – but by then I will let hips form so they will get the idea that it is time for dormancy.  They were fed well on September 1 – that is all they will get until next March!  I continue to water but look forward to turning off the automatic system when the rains begin.  The roses look forward to the gluttony of winter water as well – they will store as much as they can in their roots and the soil will get moist to a depth of several feet.  A reservoir of water for them to start with next Spring.

 With the cooler temperatures and moisture in the air comes rust and powdery mildews.  I will spray monthly during September, October and November – then begin my winter pruning in mid-December.  After pruning each bed, all the roses in that bed will get a nice slick coat of dormant spray to hold them over until January when the entire garden gets another dormant spray.  The copper and sulfur in the dormant sprays will kill off any fungus still left on the canes, stripping off the leaves in December will get rid of the infections they hold, and raking out the beds will clean them up as well.  Luckily, cool weather gives you the pep and ‘get go’ to do these things as the days shorten.

 If you are bringing roses to the Rose Show at the next few general meetings, you need to  baby those nice canes and developing buds.  If any of the canes are growing crooked, use twist ties to fasten them to a short bamboo skewer to keep them straight.  Make sure to monitor the garden for fall insects that might disfigure the leaves and the emerging buds.  ‘Hoppers’ will come around in the Fall, and the last wave of aphids will try to attack the soft new tissues at the tips of the canes.  Be sure to pick them off, squish them, hose them off, or spray – whatever takes your fancy.  You want them to know they are NOT welcome in your yard.

 Now is the time to make decisions on which roses will be dug up and disposed of – to make room for new beauties you will want in the Spring.  Check your garden calendar (you kept one, right?)  Are there roses in your yard that are too much trouble – too fussy, not generous with their blooms, straggly, disease-prone, unhappy campers?  These are the ones to get rid of.  Once they are removed, amend the soil where they lived.  Toss in organic fertilizers, coffee grounds, compost, manures, rich soil from the vegetable garden.  Let it mellow over winter and you will be ready to dig new holes for the new roses next year as you acquire them.  

 Meanwhile, cut your blooms as they open and bring them into the house for color and cheer.  Share them with friends and neighbors.  Roses are great spur-of-the-moment gifts or nice little bouquets for shut-ins and the elderly.  If you need advice or information about the Fall season – ask one of our Consulting Rosarians – we talk roses!


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Updated: 9/18/10

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