Blooms in the gloom

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Give them the opportunity and the right care, and many roses will continue to produce flowers until Christmas – whatever the weather.

Treat them with consideration, 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 blooms.

It’s the sort of win-win situation which made roses such favourites many years ago and which is now helping them regain their some of that popularity.

But despite all the best efforts with watering and feeding, with pruning and pampering, there are still many dangers awaiting the unwary rose grower.

Diseases such as blackspot, and perhaps rose rust, will be showing their spotty symptoms on mature leaves, leaving affected foliage yellow and weak.

To minimise the infection, pick off any affected foliage and dispose of the leaves somewhere away from your compost heap because it may not generate sufficient heat to kill off the diseases. Best bag the leaves and take them to the tip.

And to take the battle to the enemy, start spraying your affected roses next year with a proprietary fungicide such as RoseClear Ultra Gun! as soon as new foliage starts to grow.

It aims to kill off any existing infection and protect new growth from these two rose diseases – and it also fights powdery mildew and any sap-sucking aphids which can seriously weaken roses.

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

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

Other varieties produce little new growth from the base and these need to be pruned back less vigorously. Simply cut back stems to a point just above where strong 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 in two.

Then await the final flurry of flowers.