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How can I imitate Diane's fertilizing regime?

bart bart
3 months ago

Diane,we all see your photos of your totally fantastically well-grown, beautiful roses. I just finished looking at a post of yours on portlandmysteryroses's thread on The Prince,re-reading your fertilizing regime. How I would love to be able to copy it! but, alas, here in Italy the products you mention are not available, what's more I have to be very, very careful about using organic fertilizers-no blood, bone or fish based things (they attract the very dstructive badgers). Still, I wonder if I can't find some way of approximating your routine,using a combination of substitutes.

Here's a quote from Diane: " my roses get the same regimen: lots of water, a wonderful compost I buy (Nu Life Organic compost, if you can find it; it's a regional product), applied in late fall and into winter when the weather permits. I'm still applying it. In late February, every rose gets a good feeding of Plant Tone or Holly Tone, whichever I have on hand, and in mid March, the roses get a feeding of Lilly Miller Organic granular fertilizer for acid loving plants. My soil is alkaline so I give this fertilizer for that reason. My roses don't get a lot after the spring feedings. " So what could I use as substitutes for the three products mentioned: Nu Life Organic compost, Plant/Holly Tone , and Lily Miller organic granular for acid-loving plants? The idea of fertilizing in fall and winter really resonates with me, since roses here never go really dormant in winter; I'm pretty sure that this is when they are doing almost all of their work on roots. In spring, alas, it gets too hot too early on, and in summer, forget it (that is when they get close to true dormancy, lol) . My soil is on the alkaline side, too, so the use of acid-lovers fert seems right as well. But since I have to use non-organic chemical ferts that are locally available, how could I approximate Diane's routine? I looked up Nu Life compost 's ingredients:" Aged, screened bark fines, composted leaf, composted steer, composted chicken, Mushroom compost, Sphagnum peat moss and custom blend of Mycorrhizae." Don't know what screened bark fines are, and couldn't get mushroom compost, but the rest I could copy fairly well. I'm hoping that "composted chicken" and "composted steer" means the manure from these animals, not the actual animals! Plant Tone; Internet says: Derived from: "Hydrolyzed Feather Meal, Pasteurized Poultry Manure, Bone Meal, Alfalfa Meal, Greensand, Humates, Sulfate of Potash, and Sulfate of Potash Magnesia. *Contains 3.0% Slow Release Nitrogen." Poultry manure and alfalfa meal I can probably substitute with the regular manure that I buy and alfalfa hay horse fodder (with molasses in it). I can look up the other ingredients, too-the only one that is off the table for me is the blood meal. Also, I doubt I could find hydrolized feather meal over here, lol. I couldn't find an ingredients list for the Lilly Miller fert.

Okay. So. I wonder if anyone out there with a mind more organized than is my own could help me figure out a way to integrate this information,help me make a DIY imitation of these products, integrated with the locally available chemical granular Nitrophoska (contains nitrogen sulfate of potash, phosphorus,sulphur, magnesium and micro elements) I do try to always add alfalfa hay, manure ,and cracked corn during fall and winter, but might it be better to compost them first, or something? Any other ideas for how to improve my fertilizing?

Comments (27)

  • elenazone6
    3 months ago

    bart, I believe Diane's success isn't solely due to fertilizer; it's also a result of her unique circumstances. She benefits from her experience and the specific conditions where she lives—a dry climate with minimal pests and diseases.

    While replicating organic fertilizers like those she uses might be challenging with Nitrofoska, you could enhance the standard compost you have by incorporating granulated chicken manure and Mycorrhizae. This addition could help improve the quality of your compost and possibly move closer to the beneficial effects Diane achieves.

    bart bart thanked elenazone6
  • seasiderooftop
    3 months ago

    Hi bartbart,

    I can't speak for Diane, but I believe that the first part of her sentence you quoted is being overlooked here: LOTS of water. I thnk ithis is essential. No amount of fertilizer is going to substitute for adequate watering.

    IIRC one of the main issues you were having on your land is the lack of water/inability to water. If it were me, I would fix that before anything else.

    bart bart thanked seasiderooftop
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  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Thank you both so much. Elena, I do indeed realize that Diane's success is due to a LOT more than fertilizing, lol. And seaside is so right, too-the watering is essential. Sad to say, I can't fix the water problem. I am building another rain-harvesting roof structure,but there's no way that harvesting rain water and bringing water in myself will ever, ever equal what can be done with running water. The acqueduct water just doesn't go up to the mountain where my garden is located, and drilling for it is way out of my price range, not to mention that doing so implies the risk of failure after spending a fortune.

    However I do think that up to the present my fertilizing regime has been sorely lacking,and that IS something that I can fix.. For one thing I think I need to do more of it, earlier on in the season, while it is still sometimes rainy. Elena,is chicken manure specifically better for roses than other kinds, do you think?

  • apple_pie_order
    3 months ago

    Have you had your soil tested recently?

    bart bart thanked apple_pie_order
  • elenazone6
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Bart, I do not specifically used chicken manure for roses, using it just for my tomatoes. Fermenting manure is very effective, you can also prepare fermented grass fertilizer.

    I am making a few pictures what our Roses Society is recommended in zone 6.











    bart bart thanked elenazone6
  • Diane Brakefield
    3 months ago

    Thank you for those lovely comments, Bart. I don't think my fertilizing the roses is the secret, though it helps. Like Kim said, it's water and lots of it. And I've read a number of times that water is the best fertilizer. I don't depend totally on drip emitters. They don't deliver all the water I want, so years ago, we augmented our drip system with three kinds of tiny sprinklers whose tubes are pushed into the main drip line. These little sprinklers water all the perennials, and add to the roses' water. They are adjustable as to pressure, but they deliver water that keeps salts from building up. They only water the base of plants. And you wouldn't like our water bill at all. You could probably buy something close to the Lilly Miller granular fertilizer. It's more like a conventional fertilizer in granules that break down fairly fast. I do think chicken manure is more potent than steer manure, which I think you asked about. Chicken manure is just in small amounts in the compost. I also think that starting my regimen in late fall works well here. Because it's often dry, things just don't break down as fast as in many other locations, so I'm hoping our wetter winter months get that compost broken down into simpler components that can be taken up by the roses, and that does seem to happen. I'm sorry your watering situation is such a problem, and I hope you find a way to deliver that water to the roses more effectively. Diane

    bart bart thanked Diane Brakefield
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    O, thank you all SO much! Yes, I know that I'll never have roses as stupendous as are those of Diane. My own situation is, of course, particulary challenging, but there is also the simple fact that Italy just does not have the hydrological resources that parts of the USA do. Even if I did have running water out there, I'd still be stuck with the ethical question: is it right to use good drinking water for watering plants just to obtain great "performance"? To be honest, I actually hate that word, "performance", as if the plants were there to keep me entertained or something (no offense meant, roseseek. Knowing you, I think you'll agree with me whole-heartedly about my ethical scruples). Having said that, I think I can improve my fertilizing and just general husbandry (again, roseseek, I really, really appreciate the warning about salt build-up., etc. This matter is one of the reasons that I wanted to discuss this subject,knowing full well that "more" is not necessarily "better"). For example, the timing thing is crucial I think. Up until now, I've always applied the granular fert in March, when "they" say you should, but I'm realizing now that I probably ought to start earlier. Also, biff up my application of organics: Diane is in a colder zone than I, and yet is applying stuff "late fall and into winter when the weather permits. I'm still applying it. In late February, every rose gets a good feeding of Plant Tone or Holly Tone..." So, in my much, much warmer area, it might be better to apply that fert EARLY February or so. Keep in mind that that American adage "prune when the forsthia is in bloom" is utter nonsense for here; when the forsthia is in bloom, the roses are getting ready to bloom (I even now have a few flowers). Also, Elena's thing about the chicken manure might well be worth looking into . I see that the specific "rose fertilizer" (which I stopped using long ago because of the expense) does contain guano (bird poop). So another idea pops into my head: get the expensive specific rose fert just for the new implants that are struggling-and maybe persist in using that rather than the nitrofoska for the floribundas.

    Clearly I must continue trying to improve my watering ,but that is always going to be an issue. I'll be content if I manage to have a better garden, I don't aim for the impossible...

  • erasmus_gw
    3 months ago

    Rob a bank, buy water and hire help.

    bart bart thanked erasmus_gw
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Har,har har! But, seriously, recently in Sicily some towns were complaining to the water company about how there was no water too frequently. The water company responded" how can that be? According to our measurements, water is arriving faithfully to your towns". After investigating, they discovered that a farmer who raises animals HAD DEVIATED THE WATER COURSE SO A LARGE PROPORTION OF IT WOULD GO TO HIS LAND!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable!

  • Diane Brakefield
    3 months ago

    Idaho has a tremendous irrigation system that mostly farmers and industry use, plus we generate lots of hydroelectric power at our dams. The water originates in the mountains as snow melt and progresses downward. I won't into the rest of it. As far as lawns and gardens go, it's all city water, even out here in the hills, and we have no choice. If you live on a farm, you drill a well for drinking and all other house water. Some gardening water is even well water. For all crops, farmers use irrigation water. I have had farmers in my family all of my life, so I'm not just pulling this out of thin air. Diane

    bart bart thanked Diane Brakefield
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    All of that does make a HUGE difference. I don't know what the landscape in your area is like, Diane, but all of Italy is basically squeezed between mountains- the Alps to the north, and the Appenines running down the middle. Where we live is all high hills (we're in the foothills of the Tosco-Emiliano appenines); it's all very rocky and steep,and finding ground water is really, really difficult. " If you live on a farm, you drill a well for drinking and all other house water. Some gardening water is even well water. For all crops, farmers use irrigation water." That just does not exist here!

  • Diane Brakefield
    3 months ago

    Below, the first two photos are autumn hills. The trees are totally planted my humans and are irrigated. Otherwise it would look like the third photo, which also shows the not very distant start of the mountains and the beginnings of nature planted trees. The climate changes a lot in the mountains. We are only a few miles from a major ski area. Here, we don't have much snow or rain. Mediterranean like climate with totally dry, hot summers and moderately cold winters in this area and colder winters not far away. We are a semi arid desert.




    bart bart thanked Diane Brakefield
  • Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Like bart, I live in the foothills of the Apennines, and I can confirm all she says about water use: there's just not enough of it for abundant irrigation to be feasible or ethical. Add to that that the last three years here have been drier than usual. The Apennines don't have year-round snowpack. During the regular summer drought, water comes from the aquifers, which are replenished by rain and snow in winter.

    My garden has been a two-decades-long experiment in dry gardening. We water the first year; after that, the plants are on their own. I justify the expenditure of water during the first year, in my own mind at least, by the water the plants later capture, and by their environmental usefulness (carbon capture, prevention of landslides and landslips, cooling, air purification).

    Gardening this way does cut down on the bloom. On the other hand, when things are right they are really RIGHT. This may by one reason why I've moved toward thinking more about overall structure and less about the effect of individual plants, though they still matter quite a lot. And certainly I think in terms of permanently modifying the landscape, in the hopes of one day reaching an equilibrium in which the garden itself will supply all it needs, even though this may not be during my lifetime. Weeding is forever, though.

    P.S. Re Erasmus's remark, not robbing a bank, but winning the lottery. I could certainly use at least half time help. Ha. It's not happening.

    bart bart thanked Melissa Northern Italy zone 8
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Melissa, once again I have to admire your attitude,and wish and hope that soon I'll be able to reach such an equilibrium myself. But I feel driven to satisfying my curiosity about these rose issues, darn it!

    Elena, I want to thank you again for posting those pages from your rose society. I have to study them further, but I must say one thing , again about watering. You see, last summer, I think I was actually providing my new implants with not less than 2 gallons of water per week. Now, the temperatures were above 90 degrees farenheit for a lot of the time, but I had also shaded them. In the past few years the new implants were recieving more or less the same quantity of water,but I did not shade them. So, though this is a FAR CRY from "lots of water", it also isn't as miserable as one might think. This water was being dumped directly at the base of the plants from a bucket. not dripped on or applied by any automatic method. Here one must water in the evening in summer; that way the plant has all night to drink, before the blazing sun rises and evaporates all moisture instantly. It also would make no sense to fertilize in June, July and August,when roses are just struggling to stay alive in the heat. Even with established roses you don't want to encourage blooming really,so many things are so, so different from what they are in much of the USA.

    I seriously do think I have to start fertilizing much, much earlier than I've been doing in the past. For example, in these last months, thank Heaven, we have been recieving a lot of rain, so now would be the time to apply fert, I think. The winter temperatures here just do not count as "cold" in comparison to what many USA residents think of as such. For example, our LOWS are presently hovering between the high 30s to the 50s Farenheit. It's supposed to get "cold" next week, but even on the weather site that tends to exaggerate things, the lowest it's supposed to get is 25 F, and that only for a day or two. What's more, the sun is so low in the sky that new growth isn't going to be encouraged too soon anyway. Some of the roses in the sunniest spots in my garden are starting to leaf out now anyway...

    As far as a soil test goes, I have no idea where one would go to have that done here in Italy. The do-it-youself kits on Amazon don't look very convincing.

    There's also the question of urea that is addressed in these pages, but I'm going to start a seperate thread about that ...

  • elenazone6
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Bart, I am not in a position to give you direct advice due to my limited experience in growing roses, but here are some thoughts. I am surprised that Diane and roseseek are giving so much emphasis on water. I do not see a strong correlation between the amount of water and roses' performance. For example, I have one rose that is placed in a spot where I always forget to water and fertilize, and, as you might guess, this is the best-performing rose in my garden.

    I am not directly following the recommendations provided by our rose society; I just use them as guidelines. In the first year, my roses receive a lot of water and some stimulants like HB101 or Succinic acid, and then I leave them alone for the whole season to let the root system establish. For roses two years and older, I provide a boost with organic nitrogen, prepared from alfalfa or regular grass via fermentation early in the season, just after pruning. Let me know if you are interested in a detailed description of this process. Later in the season, I look at every bush and figure out what this particular rose needs, including micro elements, drawing from my experience in growing tomatoes.

    In my childhood, I spent each summer in Crimea, where my grandfather had a garden. Water was always limited there, given in hours, and it was insufficient to water roses. However, the roses were huge and healthy.

    bart bart thanked elenazone6
  • Diane Brakefield
    3 months ago

    If I want to grow anything at all, I have to irrigate well. Our average annual precipitation is about 10 inches, including snow. So you all can talk about using less water and still grow vegetables and roses, I would be limited to sagebrush. Furthermore, I have limited my total rose garden to 50 roses, which is about the smallest collection of roses of anyone on the forum. I've kept at 50 roses for years. At my age, 78, it would be silly to buy roses willy nilly when I will soon reach the point where I won't be able to take care of them. Our property is also small, so I utilize every space as best I can. None of you garden in a desert. This is my last post on the topic of watering. Diane

    bart bart thanked Diane Brakefield
  • roseseek
    3 months ago

    @bart bart unfortunately water theft isn't unusual. This article is several years old but indications are the couple in question continues their water theft. They own many well-known brands of produce, none of which EVER crosses our threshold. (Halos, Wonderful Pistachios, Fiji water, POM pomegranate juice, to name some.) https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/08/lynda-stewart-resnick-california-water/ There is also the infamous case of Tom Selleck and his settling the case of his water theft to support his avocado orchard.

    bart bart thanked roseseek
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    3 months ago

    I liked e just a few miles Fro Elena and we receive 45" on average, so some years more. It rains a lot. We also average 15" of snow yearly....don't know how tat compares to you there in Italy. I rarely have to water, but will during times of drought which only lasts a couple of weeksweeks or so. I couldn't imagine getting by less. Elena, often mountainous regions e t rely on mountain runoff to sustain the summer vrowthvrowth and it depends where one lives in a country.. I think these parts of Italy have been experiencing less Spring rains or don't get them to the same degree.

    bart bart thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
    3 months ago

    Should read... I live just a few miles from Elena... I do see my roses asking for Walter water at a two, three weeks withoutwithout rain.

    bart bart thanked Vaporvac Z6-OhioRiverValley
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Once again, I thank you all for your comments and attention. @ Elena " For roses two years and older, I provide a boost with organic nitrogen, prepared from alfalfa or regular grass via fermentation early in the season, just after pruning. Let me know if you are interested in a detailed description of this process." YES, Elena, I am indeed interested-not much about the pruning so much as about the fermentation.

    @ Diane I truly, deeply appreciate your taking time with me. Your roses are stupendous thanks to your ability and talent as a gardener, and I am grateful indeed for your posts. Also your good sense in limiting the number of plants! The photos of the landscape surrounding you speak volumes ; if I had a camera I'd post some of our surroundings- all woodlands on high hills-totally different. Also, the total average rainfall for the town where I live is 34 inches per year. So, whilst I definitely agree that lots of water would be one of the best things I could do for my roses,I also have to accept the fact that it isn't do-able. You've helped me so much by going into detail about your fertilizing routine, and I definitely think that getting an earlier start on this might well make a big difference for me.

    I guess I also should clarify that my inquiries are really more about getting the new implants established. Said new implants are all potted roses,and seem to refuse to grow. In another thread posted by Cynthia (Nippstress) she brought up the "revelation " that she had about own-root versus bare-root plants, coming to the conclusion that, unlike what she had thought, bare-root plants had definite advantages for her. This (plus a remark read on Barni's site) got me thinking, and an Internet search revealed that indeed, potted roses are harder to establish than bare-root plants. This seems so illogical, but I think it may be true,since back in the day when I planted only bare-roots I never had much trouble getting the plants to grow, for the most part. True, the climate has gotten worse,but on the other hand I'm better about watering than I was in the past, and have started providing shade.

    Probaly I should start a new thread, focusing on this specific issue. Thanks to you help, forum friends, I'm seeing a bit clearer.

    @ roseseek: I never liked Tom Selleck.

  • elenazone6
    3 months ago

    bart, Here is Theory and Practice for preparing the fermented grass tea.


    I am using two five gallons baskets, cover tight with black plastic trash bags and leaving them on direct sun for about 5 days ( see below how to check the readiness) , after that time generally it's ready to use in proportion of 1 to 10 parts of water.


    The text below is the translated summary from this source, the author is chemist who specializes in agriculture:

    https://procvetok.com/155779/


    Any plants are suitable for preparation - with roots (preferably) or without. However, the best ones in terms of nitrogen enrichment are those with the lowest carbon/nitrogen ratio (for example, in sawdust, it is 500, while in mowed lawn grass, it's 15). The best options are high-protein leguminous plants (including multi-leaf lupine), clover, dandelion, nettle, burdock, etc. Various types of sorrel serve as a source of valuable oxalic acid.

    Generally, the ratio of grass mass to water mass ranges from 30:70 to 50:50. Therefore, this fertilizer is highly concentrated. In all cases, it needs to be diluted at least 10 times before use.


    The initial fermentation stage - acidic fermentation - is carried out by various microorganisms capable of alcoholic, butyric, propionic, acetoacetic (acetone and butanol have a distinct smell), and other types of fermentation. Microorganisms that break down cellulose play an active role in the organic mass destruction. The decomposition of the most difficult-to-decompose raw material components (such as tough cellulose from rhizomes, stems, etc.) depends on their presence and activity. Typically, they inhabit the soil and plant surfaces, ensuring their presence in the fermentation process. During this stage, the breakdown of proteins (putrefaction) leads to the formation of ammonia. It combines with various acids, forming soluble ammonium salts. However, the natural acidity of the ferment might be insufficient – in that case, ammonia will start leaving the fertilizer, which is undesirable (you might even detect it by smell). Hence, it's necessary to acidify the fermentation with acetic or citric acid. This won't cause soil acidification - the ammonium salts of these acids are neutral in reaction.

    During this phase, the fertilizer holds its maximum value. You can recognize this phase by the emergence of a strong, specific odor, more acidic than putrid, sometimes even intense. To shift organic decomposition towards fermentation and minimize putrefaction, it's beneficial to slightly acidify the solution. This phase occurs approximately 5-7 days after the start of the process and depends on temperature and other factors.

    The transition to the next phase of organic decomposition is accompanied by a change in odor, becoming more swampy, typical for such environments. At this time, there's a change in the microbial community, which starts consuming simpler organic substances formed in the previous phase. For our purposes, this is undesirable - it increases the release of carbon dioxide, indicating the loss of valuable energy.

    Further fermentation can yield hydrogen and methane. At that point, the value of the fertilizer lies only in the presence of mineralized elements for plant nutrition.

    Therefore, it's crucial not to overferment the solution but to use it in the active phase of substance decomposition. As mentioned earlier, aeration will alter the microbial community and prevent us from gaining all the benefits of using this fertilizer.


    Fertilizer Enhancements:

    Since herbal infusions are rather poor in phosphorus (we're not focusing on fruiting, for instance), it's advisable to add 1 kg of superphosphate to a 50-liter barrel without mixing it thoroughly - let it dissolve slowly and become part of the process.

    Adding whey is highly beneficial - it contains lactic acid, which is quite useful.

    bart bart thanked elenazone6
  • bart bart
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    O, Elena, thank you so much! This sounds like an inexpensive organic fert that I CAN use-I also know of an on-line store that sells superphosphate. Is there any natural source for the acetic or citric acid? I see that citric acid is widely used as a conservant in various drinks and even candies...

  • susan9santabarbara
    3 months ago

    Most vinegar is a 4-5% solution of acetic acid. And of course, citric acid is contained in citrus fruit.

    bart bart thanked susan9santabarbara
  • klem1
    3 months ago

    Hello rose gardeners from across the globe, I noticed this interesting conversation in soil and compost forum. We have been known to ferment everthing from cabbage and grapes to bread dough then eat or drink but grass and weed are usually ,,,,,,,,,,,,well that's a conversation for another place and time. My credentials for roses include a girl named Rose I had a crush on in 8th grade and some plants I acquired from abandoned homesteads and fencerows over the years. We have a long growing season occasionally going from drought to flood with several days midway reaching 100+f ( 49 days in 2023) so

    one must stay prepared for chicken one day and feathers the next. The most effective way I've found to stretch water supply and prevent swings in soil moisture is hugelkultur. Research the practice then adapt to your circumstances. Your supplemental water requirement will fall by at least 60%in an average year and up to 75% in a dry year. Due to beds' ability to compensate for over/under watering it can prove a valuable asset to gardeners with unlimited water but lack of experience in knowing when or how much to water. I believe this touches on one reason different gardeners get different results while using equal amount of water. Irrigation habits influence how deep plants send roots. It's generally accepted first year beds aren't very productive but you can overcome that to great extent by using wood well along in process of rotting,using lots of smaller twigs/ limbs, finished compost along with partially finished compost. Where you are forced to use material needing to age and you want to use bed anyhow, try this. Remove bottom from 1 to 5 gallon nursury pot, sit wide opening down on bed before capping bed with final material. After bed is capped,place growing medium in pot to hold seed or transplants. After plant is established but before root bound,use a trowel to work pot free and remove. Using a pot is just for concept, use your imagination. I wrap corrugated cardboard around lower part of 5 gallon bucket,set bucket upright and leave a few days after capping before sliding bucket out and filling cavity with medium. Walking your hillside woods stacking sticks and laying logs perpendicular to runoff is a good way to groom wood for future use in beds. The log will catch leaves and soil which remain wet after surrounding area has dried. If you are lucky mushrooms will be growing on log when you return for it.

    So you don't get a wrong impression before we can discuss grass and weed in depth, I don't smoke it,I mix them with other compostables. Buon giardinaggio

    bart bart thanked klem1
  • nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska
    2 months ago

    Just echoing what everyone else has said here, and thanks for the shout-out Bart Bart. I am mixing planting own root roses for shrubs, antiques and other hardy roses, and grafted roses for hybrid teas, floris, grandifloras, and any other fussy pants roses. I am resolved never to plant another tea even though poor little Maman Cochet limped along for at least 10 years and bloomed now and then (and apparently we've moved to zone 6a now). I have to choose wisely for roses that do well in my climate, and that can be a part of your solution. For instance, in my zone the Canadians like Felix LeClerc or John Cabot or Quadra can survive anything including screaming drought and just bloom their hearts out.


    I know Melissa chooses a lot of antique roses and those roses that tolerate a dry climate and can fend for themselves without lots of water may be best for you. Which roses you water and when can help you with the water situation. I can't offer you suggestions for your climate, since you can probably grow roses I would drool unsuccessfully over, and my Canadians would be a poor fit for you.


    I also watch that I don't get roses too hooked on water in their first couple of years with me so that they are forced to set down deep roots. Yes, first year roses need it, but I will sacrifice the next two years of blooms to make sure they dig deep and build resistance to the droughts we're going to have. I'd rather have a surviving rose that I can water more for blooms in the future than one that blooms its heart out short term and dies because it's not drought resilient.


    At the same time I've also come to the reluctant conclusion that watering roses helps their winter survival as well as bloom, so I water in early spring and fall as much or more than in July-August when they're going to be reluctant bloomers no matter what I do. I've seen rose gardens of lots of people in rose societies in my region and water is the #1 thing that distinguishes their gardens from mine.


    As far as fertilizer goes, I've also resolved that I have burned my last rose with chemical fertilizers. I like organic gardening anyway, and in my world it's lazy gardening - good bugs vs. bad bugs, and survival of the fittest. Everyone else seems to be able to use standard 10-10-10 fertilizers but I can't do so effectively and I'm done. In the past I have thrown down alfalfa hay without any adverse effects (buying it cheap by the 50# bale at the feed store) but my rose society makes its own version of Rose Tone with extra goodies in it that is roughly a dollar a pound and really good for the roses. Can't tell you exactly what's in it, but it's things like alfalfa meal, bone meal, cottonseed meal and has never burned my roses. They love it and it builds extra thick canes (and mice love it so don't try to store it unless in a metal tin). Once you find ingredients that work for you, such as those in the list of ingredients of Mills magic, there may be a local agricultural feed store that can mix this up for you and other rose lovers.


    I also agree that I'm not going to achieve the greatness of other fabulous GW gardens (or even other rosarians near me) but I'm resolved to learn from my past mistakes. That's part of the fun of this hobby anyway.

    Cynthia

    bart bart thanked nippstress - zone 5 Nebraska
  • klem1
    2 months ago

    "I'm resolved to learn from my past mistakes. That's part of the fun of this hobby anyway.

    Cynthia"


    That's a good mindset for weathering failures with a smile and eye toward the next season. Half my efforts are experimentation.


    bart bart thanked klem1