Organic Roses in the Flower Garden

Many people believe growing their flowers and vegetables organically is healthier for them and their environment. It is natural that you may wish to grow your roses this way also. Using the pesticides and insecticides that are usually considered to go along with growing roses and keeping them healthy can cause many people have to health problems . Maybe you just don't want those kind of chemicals in your garden and around your children. This article will give some pointers in using more natural methods of growing your roses.

1. First do your homework and find out what type of roses grow well in your area. Buy disease resistant varieties. If you live in an area that has problems with a certain disease, look for a variety that is resistant to it. If you can, purchase organic roses. As they have already been growing with organic methods, this supposes they are "healthier". and not already loaded with chemicals. Thus they have a stronger immune system. Of course, buy roses with no blemishes on them.

2. Roses like full sun. Make sure they are placed so as to get 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day.

3. Do not crowd your roses together. Ensure that stress is reduced by providing lots of space for air to circulate around the bush. Take growth of the rose bush into account.

4. Plant your roses in good loamy soil. If your soil is not ideal, then amend it with organic material such as from your compost pile. You do have a compost pile, don't you? Roses like well draining soil but they don't want it draining as fast as you might get with sand, so amend your sandy soil. If you have clay soil, an alternative requiring a bit of work is to build a raised bed for your roses much like vegetable gardeners use. It should be at least a foot deep but more is better. Fill it with will amended soil.

5. Keep your watering consistent. Don't allow your plants to dry out and suffer stress before watering. Roses can need up to 2 inches of water a week. Water every two to three days. This, of course, depends on your area and the type of weather (how much rainfall) you are getting. Also, be careful not to stress the plant by overwatering and depriving the roots of oxgen.

6. Mulch, mulch, mulch! Mulching can reduce the stress on your rose in several ways. It helps to hold in moisture which can be very good in a hot, dry climate. It helps maintain a more even temperature in the root zone. And mulch can smother weeds that could be competition for your lovely roses. As the mulch decomposes, it adds more nutrients to the soil around your plant. Lastly, it can cut down on some of your work. ;-)

7. Roses are, what could be considered, heavy feeders. They respond well to fertilizer and should be fertilized on a consistent schedule. Most organic fertilizers are slow-acting and may produce less spectacular results of a non-organic fertilizer. Some organic fertilizers to consider are composted manure, fish emulsion, alfalfa meal, blood meal, and cottonseed meal. If you wish to have a truly organic rose garden, you should ensure that your fertilizer is also organic. Of all these the only one you can be sure is truly organic would be your composted manure if you know exactly where it comes from and how the animals are raised. Perhaps you should consider your own animals raised organically. Chicken manure is very high in nitrogen and some localities allow a small backyard flock. Make sure it is composted thoroughly as chicken manure is very "hot" and will burn your plants.

8. Prune your roses in the early spring. To keep your roses healthy, get out the dead wood, damaged wood and anything that starts to look diseased (and don't compost these trimmings). Thin out your plant to keep it from being crowded. Don't allow branches to rub against each other. This will allow air and sunlight to get to the whole plant keeping it healthier.

In part 2, we will discuss some organic methods of combating specific diseases and pests.

2005, Sandra Dinkins-Wilson

Find more Rose Garden articles, as well as part 2 of this article, and other gardening tips for Flower Garden Lovers at our website.

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