Category Archives: Flowers

Roses: Diseases & Pests

Gardeners aren’t the only ones that love roses. Rose bushes can be the favorite of insects and certain plant diseases too. But with proper maintenance and care, the rose is still one of the easiest and most rewarding flowers to grow.

Rose Pests

There are many insects that love roses. Aphids, white flies, mealy bugs, Japanese beetles, rose borers, to name a few. Don’t be dismayed by this though as they are generally easy to get rid of once you have discovered them.

Many of these rose pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or even removed by hand or by a jet of water. There are a number of effective products, many of them environmentally friendly, available for rose pests. Some cover a variety of insects while others are specific to a particular type. So although many insects would love to make a meal of your roses, you will find that a weekly inspection and quick treatment of your rose bush will prevent any widespread infestation.

Rose Diseases

Depending on the area in which you live, you may encounter different rose diseases, but there are three main afflictions that are universal to roses everywhere.

  • Black Spot – This looks just like the name. Black spots appear on leaves and stems of the rose bush. The leaves eventually fall off and the whole plant can become denuded. The most effective treatment is an application of dormant oil and lime sulfur before the new growth appears in the spring. All the infected leaves and branches need to be removed along with any laying on the ground in order to prevent re-infection.
  • Powdery Mildew – A powdery light colored fuzz appears on the rose leaves and even new buds. Left untreated, it will spread throughout the entire bush eventually killing the foliage. It can be treated with a commercial spray or you can try making your own by combining three teaspoons of baking soda and two tablespoons of vegetable oil with one gallon of water. Spray the mixture on in the mornings on the top and underside of all the leaves. This won’t remove the damage to infected leaves, but will prevent the spread to new foliage and rose buds.
  • Rust – Again, just like the name, rust colored spots appear mainly on the undersides of the rose leaves. Rust can be treated like black spot with an application of dormant oil and lime sulphur.

Neem oil is a new product that promises to get rid black spot, mildew, rust as well as many rose insects too. It is derived from the Neem tree.

Roses: Care and Pruning

Pruning and caring for roses isn’t tricky or difficult whether you are a seasoned rose gardener or even just a beginner. Roses are one of the easiest and most rewarding flowering shrubs to grow. With proper pruning and some basic rose care, you will be able to produce some spectacular roses that will be the envy of your neighborhood!

Rose Pruning Basics

Roses should be pruned by late winter or very early spring. The new buds will begin to swell early so keep watch and don’t start too late. Make sure that you start with good quality sharp, clean pruners. Most important of all: when pruning roses make sure you have a good pair of gardening gloves and wear a long sleeved shirt!

Cut just above an outward facing bud

All pruning cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle. Make each cut about one quarter to one half inch above an outward facing bud. Cutting above an outward facing bud means that the new growth will be outward, away from the center of the plant which improves air circulation and gives the rose bush an attractive overall shape. If possible, dab on a bit of pruning seal after each cut. If you don’t have that, some gardeners substitute white glue!

Prune back the rose bush until you have anywhere from four to eight healthy looking canes. How tall you leave the bush will depend on the type of rose that you are growing. In general you want to encourage a bowl shape shrub with new growth facing outward.

Make sure you also remove any diseased or blighted leaves from the bush itself and from the ground surrounding it.

Cut right to the live tissue

When you are cutting back, make sure that you prune right to where there is live or green tissue. It should look light colored and healthy, not dark and porous. Dead branches need to be removed completely. Saw them off right to the base of the rose bush. Remove all the thin and spindly growth as well. Generally anything that is thinner than a pencil should be cut out. Take off all the suckers too. Suckers are healthy looking canes than grow from below the grafted section on the main stem of the rose bush.


Roses will benefit from feeding about three times a year. Feed them in the early spring, right after you prune, then again when the first blooms appear and once more in late summer or early fall. When you first plant your new rose bush add a handful of bonemeal to get the roots off to a good start.


Roses need regular watering in order to produce the biggest and most beautiful blooms. Make sure that when you water, the moisture reaches down to the bottom of the roots, which is generally about eighteen inches. It is better to give a good watering once a week or so rather than a light sprinkle every other day. Good deep watering will develop a healthy root system resulting in a vigorous healthy rose bush. As well, try to water with a hose or drip system from underneath the leaves as leaving water on the rose leaves themselves can encourage disease.


Finally, make sure that your rose bush gets enough sun. Roses need a minimum of six hours of sunshine each day, but more is even better. Your roses also need space so allow enough distance between plants to provide good air circulation between plants.

When you purchase a new rose bush it will come with specific comments and instructions about proper care and maintenance specific for its type.

Roses: Types of roses

Why are some gardeners afraid to grow roses when they are among the easiest and most delightful type of flower to grow? Roses are unequalled in beauty, fragrance and incredible variety. The rose is the perfect flower for the beginner gardener as well as the favorite of the seasoned expert. Knowing the different characteristics of each type of rose is important so that you don’t end up with a hybrid tea when you really wanted a shrub style! So whether you are new to growing roses or just looking for the latest variety, there is a beautiful rose bush with your name on it!

Hybrid tea roses

Hybrid tea roses are the tall, long-stemmed variety of roses. They are specifically for cutting. In fact this is the type of rose that you find for sale at the florist. There is usually one bloom on each long stem rather than a cluster of flowers. The hybrid tea rose was first introduced in 1867 and today thousands of cultivars or varieties exist. They are not generally the most attractive type of rose bush in your garden as they grow long and leggy. As well, they are a favorite for insects and diseases. If you are looking for a rose bouquet however, this is the type you’ll want to try.

Floribunda Roses

Floribunda roses are a cross between a hybrid tea and polyantha rose. (Polyantha roses are a hardier, low growing, low maintenance, shrub style rose.) Floribunda roses have large, showy blossoms much like the hybrid teas but bloom more freely in clusters of blossoms rather than a single bloom on each stem. Floribundas generally make a more attractive shrub as they are not as prone to becoming so long and gangly. They are generally more disease resistant than the hybrid teas and will grow to two or three feet tall.

Grandiflora Roses

Grandiflora roses are a result of the crossing of hybrid teas with floribundas. These are relatively new roses, introduced in the 1950’s. They have many of the characteristics of the floribunda, including the large showy blossoms in clusters, but grow to be much larger, reaching from anywhere from five feet right up to eight.

Shrub Roses

Shrub roses are perfect for the beginning rose gardener. Shrub roses, especially when compared with traditional varieties, are an excellent choice for many reasons. They are naturally disease-resistant, hardy in colder climates and have a very compact growth habit which means that little pruning is required. Best of all, they look beautiful in your garden and produce attractive roses which bloom from early summer right up until the first frost.

Ground cover Roses

Ground cover roses are exactly that. They are very low growing roses which will either cascade over walls or spread out as a beautiful ground cover. Although they do not grow high, only one or two feet at most, they have a wide spreading habit and will eventually cover up to four or five feet. They are hardy and require virtually no pruning or maintenance, making them perfect for containers or near the edge of a flower bed. Ground cover roses will start blooming in early summer and continue right up to the frosts in the fall.

Miniature Roses

Miniature roses can be really tiny and will make the perfect balcony or container rose. They are very much like a shrub rose but the entire plant will only reach six to eight inches. No pruning is required unless yours needs some simple shaping.

Climbing Roses

Climbing roses don’t really climb the way vines do. Climbers are just roses that grow very tall, long canes which require tying up on a support of some sort. They can be trained to grow around a trellis, arbor, or even sideways along a fence. They usually have big showy blossoms and will blossom for several months.

Flower Bulbs: After bloom care

After your spring flower bulbs have bloomed do you leave them in the ground or is it best to dig them up? There is always some debate amongst gardener as to what to do with your flower bulbs after they have bloomed. Here are some tips on after bloom care for your spring flowering bulbs.

What should be done after the flower bulbs have bloomed?

After the blooms from the flower bulbs have faded, “dead-head” them by clipping off the spent blooms so that they won’t go to seed. Some gardeners say this isn’t necessary for daffodils, but your garden will look neater by cutting off each bloom when it is finished.

Don’t touch those leaves!

The main requirement for bulb flowers after they have bloomed is to keep their leaves so that the plant can put its energy back into its bulb for next spring’s blooming. The leaves give an energy charge to the bulb through photosynthesis and for this they need to keep their leaves! This energy or food is stored in the white fleshy part of the bulb for use next spring.

Since each leaf needs to be exposed to the sun, it is important not to bunch, tie, braid or cut the bulb’s leaves during this six to eight week period. The bulb’s leaves can be unsightly but it is vital to your bulb’s health to leave them until they are completely brown and dead at which time they can be trimmed off.

Try planting other annuals or perennials in amongst your bulbs so that these will grow up and hide the yellowing leaves of your bulbs.


If you feel you want to fertilize your bulbs, this should only be done about six weeks before they bloom. A fast release nitrogen fertilizer is the best thing to feed the bulbs with. Some gardeners like to throw in a handful of bonemeal when they first plant their bulbs as this can help the roots get off to a good start.

Lifting Bulbs

Some gardeners go through the bother of lifting the flower bulbs out of the ground every year, storing them for summer and then replanting again in the fall. For all the bother it really doesn’t improve the bulbs performance at all. As well, leaving your bulbs in the ground will cause most varieties to naturalize, that is, multiply giving you even more bulbs next spring.

Does size matter?

Generally within the same species of bulb, a bigger bulb will produce a bigger flower. However you can’t compare one species of tulip with another as their sizes may differ greatly according to its variety. Once properly planted and cared for, your bulbs can increase in size every season bringing a better display every spring.

Most bulb merchants will stop shipping bulbs when the planting season for them has ended. Gardeners can still order however and the bulbs are shipped as soon as planting time is optimal.

Flower Bulbs: When to plant

Knowing when to plant spring flowering bulbs like tulips and daffodils can be confusing to some gardeners. Here are some handy bulb planting pointers to ensure that your spring bulbs are planted in good time to come up beautifully every year.

When can bulbs be planted?

Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils should be planted in the fall or early winter in order to bloom in spring as they require a long period of cool temperatures to spark the biochemical process that causes them to flower. If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, your bulbs need to be planted in the ground before the ground freezes so that they can have time to develop strong roots.

If you forget to plant the bulbs in the fall, try chilling them in the refrigerator for use indoors as forced bulbs or somehow get them into the ground outside. Because bulbs are so tough and contain a full storehouse of food, your bulbs will try their best to bloom no matter how late it is in the season. Chances are you may still get some results, even if you plant them late.

Growing spring flowering bulbs in warm climates

It’s possible to grow spring-flowering bulbs in climates as warm as Zone 10. However the blooming season in these zones is much earlier than in cooler zones. Growing bulbs in a warmer zone means that you need to pre-chill the bulbs, especially tulips and daffodils.

Pre-chill your flower bulbs

Pre-chill the bulbs for a minimum of six to eight weeks in a refrigerator at a temperature of around 40°F to 45°F (typical refrigerator temperature). They can remain chilling up to 16 weeks if necessary, until it is time to plant. Ideally the bulbs should be put in the ground in December or early January.

Where is the best spot to plant flower bulbs?

Bulbs like tulips, daffodils and crocuses will grow in shade as well as a sunny location. For bulbs that continue to thrive and multiply year after year however, they do need four to six hours of sunlight each day. Even if your garden is shady in summer though, there is usually more sun in a spring garden as many of the trees and shrubs haven’t grown their summer leaves back yet.

Be sure to plant bulbs in an area that the soil drains well so that your bulbs aren’t sitting in water which could cause them to rot, but do water newly planted bulbs to help those roots get going.