Help roses 
win their war with 
nature

TOUGH CUSTOMER: Roses have evolved to be survivors.
TOUGH CUSTOMER: Roses have evolved to be survivors.
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Given good weather – and the occasional feed and bit of dead-heading – and some roses will still be flowering at Christmas.

Many people don’t realise that roses are a tough breed; they have evolved to take just about anything the gardener and Nature can throw their way, and they respond with some of the best flowers known to man.

But go that little extra and treat them with consideration, and roses should repay your kindness with bigger and better blooms.

Keep them tidy and you’ll encourage new, clean foliage; continue to dead-head all the spent or damaged blooms by either snapping off the head about 2cm (1in) below the flower head or snipping off the complete flower truss, using secateurs, and you’ll encourage even more and later flowers.

But there are still many dangers awaiting the unwary rose grower.

Blackspot and perhaps rose rust will be showing their spotty symptoms on mature leaves, leaving foliage yellow and weak.

Pick off affected leaves and dispose of them somewhere away from your compost heap because the heat may not kill off the diseases.

For positive protection, start spraying your affected roses next year with a proprietary fungicide as soon as new foliage starts to grow.

It should kill off any existing infection and and it also fights powdery mildew and any sap-sucking aphids.

Meanwhile, prune back the stems of rambler roses that have finished flowering and tie in any new stems to their supports.

Some varieties produce plenty of new stems from the base; in this case, take out whole branches that have flowered – new stems will provide adequate flowering potential next year.

Other varieties produce little new growth from the base and so cut back stems to a point just above where new growth starts.

And don’t neglect to tie in new stems emerging from climbing roses– bend the stem to as near a horizontal position as is possible without snapping the growth.

Have a lovely Christmas.