“Beauty . . . is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that
-- W. Somerset Maugham
“Cured yesterday of my disease, I died last night of my physician.”
-- Matthew Prior
I always smell her perfume before I see her -- my anticipation growing
prior to our kiss.
Although her scent lingers faintly indoors, Catharine is away on
holiday. I am feeling lonely this evening, but not alone. I return to our
roses, which fill the air with fragrance and our garden with color.
Warmer weather has a way of enticing roses to bloom.
The delicate shapes and colors of roses are unique among flowers of
the world. For this reason, many believe that they are frail and readily
predisposed to pest and disease. This is simply not so . . . roses are no
more susceptible to garden problems than most other flowering shrubs.
Roses are tolerant, hardy plants, but a constant application of
pesticides won’t make a healthier plant. Roses require the basics of
sunlight, well prepared soil, water and fertilizer. Your mission (if you
choose to accept it) is control, not elimination, of pest and disease.
Your rose questions to the Plant Man for the third week of May included:
Q: Plant Man, how do I get rid of the aphids on my roses?
A: The tender new growth and flowers of your roses are desirable
targets for aphids. These soft-bodied insects are easy to control by
using horticultural oil or an insecticidal soap product. For systemic
control, use either Orthene or a rose care product that contains a
systemic insecticide plus a balanced fertilizer.
Q: My rose is growing great leaves but I haven’t seen a flower yet.
A: Some rose varieties will concentrate their energies into growth the
first year and flower little, especially if they have received heavy
dosages of nitrogen. If your rose is a once-blooming variety it will not
bloom the first year. Climbers are also not likely to bloom their first
Q: Plant Man, is it OK to plant roses in pots?
A: Smaller roses that remain under three-feet tall may be planted in
18-inch pots. Larger roses and climbers should be planted into 20- to
Q: My climbing roses never bloom although I prune them every spring.
A: Climbing roses bloom on old wood, rather than new growth, so I
recommend only stripping leaves at pruning time.
Q: My rose leaves look like my grandmother’s old doilies, just like
lacework. What’s up?!
A: Lacework holes in rose leaves are classic caterpillar damage. Spray
infested plants with either Orthene or Orthonex for immediate control. Or
you may also control caterpillars with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), which
is a biological control and most effective while the caterpillars are
Q: Hi Plantman. What’s causing my rose leaves to wilt?
A: A number of different fungi may cut off the flow of nutrients and
water throughout the stem, causing the leaves to wilt or yellow. They
enter through a wound caused by the thorns or at a cut stem. Prune out
infected canes and spray a fungicide containing chlorothalonil at 14-day
intervals until control is achieved.
Q: I’m still getting mildew on my roses. Can I spray as needed?
A: Controlling mildew during warm, moist weather is nearly impossible.
I recommend using Funginex at the first sign of a problem, but only at
seven to 10 day intervals to avoid damaging your plants.
My sweet wife (yes, Ben, she is my honey) returns from the Grand
Canyon on Memorial Day. Here in Laguna, as I stand on my deck on Tuesday
evening, I begin to anticipate her homecoming. Although all of our roses
are in bloom, there is work to be done -- Catharine will return to the
scent of our roses -- and a kiss. See you next time.
* Steve Kawaratani is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery, 1540
South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. He is married to local artist,
Catharine Cooper, and has three cats. He can be reached at 497 2438, or
E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.