Dr. Rose's Acute Answer Care Center

FAQ- Rose Hospital


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Dr. Rose's- FAQ Help Page

This is intended to be an interactive, responsive area to answer both common rose growing questions, with the Connecticut and Northeast climate in mind, as well as answering submitted questions. Of course rose growing questions that are specific to you as an individual (instead of a generic question) are probably best handled by contacting a Consulting Rosarian (CR). For those, click on the Call a CR!  If you have a question that you believe would benefit others, send it to: DavCandler@aol.com  (and it will be forwarded to a CRS Consulting Rosarian, or Dr. Rose).


 Frequently Asked Questions:


35: I plan to expand my garden and plant some new roses.  Should I plant them all the same depth, where the bud union is 3" below the soil level?
Answer: Marci Martin

When I planted my first rose garden in 1978, I bought my roses at the local garden center and planted them the same depth they were planted in the pots.  That winter, I lost all of them.  Then, I read in an old rose book that the bud union (that knot or crown of the plant) should be planted at soil level.  I replanted, and again, I lost some of them over the winter.  So, off to the garden center again, for a chat with the ancient owner who loved roses.  Mr. Z told me to always bury the bud union deep, and I have been doing that ever since.  When you plant the bud union below soil level, you are protecting your investment, as all good things come from that spot.  The rose below is known as rootstock, and the rose you’re planting has been budded onto that understock.  Also, by planting deep, you are protecting several inches of cane which will be below soil level, too.  The reason we plant deep in this area of the country is that we regularly go below zero in the winter.  If something happens and you can’t protect your roses when the weather gets cold, the winter may zap your rose all the way to the ground, but when you cut back the winter-kill in the spring, that bud union and the buried canes will send up big strong, new canes.  I plant all roses deeply, for the same reason…protection.  Even own-root roses like minis and shrubs benefit from being planted deep.  Ultimately, this method will be more satisfying to the gardener, because the rose will last for many years and not be affected by the weather.


34: I live in a condo and have no yard, only a sunny deck.  Can I grow roses?
Answer (Carol Ann Rogers):

Yes you can!  Miniature roses can grow quite well in good sized pots on a sunny deck or patio.  A smaller or bushier plant habit would be better than a tall robust variety and you should be willing to water the pots daily as pots dry out very quickly. Good drainage is essential. A good potting soil works well and  liquid fertilizer can be applied weekly.  A fungicide can be applied every seven to ten days if desired.  Remove spent blooms with sharp, small pruners down to a five leaflet segment and flowering should continue from spring to fall.

To winterize, remove all leaves, water well, and place entire pot in the garage in late November or early December.  Check periodically to make sure the plant is still damp especially if there is a "January thaw", and in early spring you should see new growth.  The spring sun is quite strong , so reintroduce your plants to the outdoors slowly, and if a freeze is predicted, place back into the garage for the overnight period.  Prune off any dead canes, shape the plant to your liking and make sure the surface of the soil is clear of any debris.  Your roses should thrive for many years using this method.


33: What kind of soil is best for my roses? 
Answer (Becky Martorelli):

Roses like to grow in a well-drained, organically rich loamy soil with a pH around 6.5

Loamy soil is made up of sand, silt, and clay in relatively equal amounts. It allows enough air to get at the roots and at the same time provides a nice balance between moisture retention/drainage.

Organic material adds nutrients and extra moisture retention. Organic material is derived from composted leaves, grass clippings, garden waste, kitchen scraps and manure.

pH can be tested at home with a purchased pH meter from a local gardening center, or a soil sample can be sent to your local Agricultural Extension Center where they will draw up a soil analysis for a minimal fee.


32: How do I know if I have “loamy soil”?
Answer (Becky Martorelli):


Soil is made up of sand, silt and clay. 

Clay is made up of small particles that hold on to water, become compact, drains poorly and allows little aeration. 

Sand consists of large particles that are heavy, holds little water, but provides good aeration.

Silt combines the properties of clay and sand in medium sized particles.

How to check the ratio of your garden soil structure:

1.       Take a large glass jar and fill half of it with garden soil, omitting any rocks or sizeable pebbles.

2.       Fill the jar with water and cap it tightly with a lid.

3.       Dance to “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake your Booty” and really shake that jar

4.       Place the jar on a level surface and let the particles settle until the water is nearly clear again. This may take 1 – 2 days.

5.       After the soil has settled, you should be able to see layers of soil:  Sand at the bottom, silt in the middle, clay at the top. 

6.    If you have loamy soil you will have relatively equal amounts of each layer.

For a more precise home test check this website:




31: What is chemical ‘Shelf-life”, and how should I maximize the effectiveness of my rose-treating chemicals?

Answer: (Ed Caffegan)

Most rosarians today are quite familiar with garden chemicals they use to keep their roses healthy and everblooming. In many cases when a particular pesticide/fungicide is not “doing its job” we look for alternatives rather than understanding that there may be underlying reasons the chemical is ineffective, that reason, often overlooked is “shelf life”.

According to Dr Gary Rankin, Professor and Chair, Dept. of Pharmacology, Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, who is also a prominent consulting rosarian, shelf life refers to a pesticide degrading below a level that allows the product to perform at some predetermined level by the manufacturer. The average shelf life for a pesticide/ fungicide stored under ideal conditions (temperature between 40 degrees and 90 degrees, dry storage area tight container) is 2-3 years; some products can last 5 years or more, as is the case with powders if stored properly. When the product degrades below the acceptable level, then the product is no longer recommended for use. The product may still be somewhat effective after its shelf life but it will not perform as well.

A number of factors determine shelf life, such as chemical structure of the pesticide/fungicide, can it be broken down by water which would reduce shelf life, the formulation of the product (wettable can get compacted and cake with higher humidity. Products are most stable in cool dry environments. Placing a product in a tight container will extend shelf life while placing it in a bag or loosely closed container will often reduce shelf life.

Products degrade in a number of ways. Some pesticides (e.g. malathion, carbaryl) react with water to break down the pesticide into inactive compounds. The process is speeded up by heat and the amount of moisture present. Dry powders may last for several years, while solutions break down faster. Other products may react with oxygen in the air to oxidize the pesticide to an inactive compound. Light and cold can cause chemical reactions reducing effectiveness. Freezing can often reduce the ability of emulsions to mix properly with water.

It is easy to see there are many different ways in which a pesticide/fungicide can lose its effectiveness. The next time your favorite chemical does not meet your expectations, make sure it has been cared for properly. Adding the date the chemical was purchased to the label is a good idea.  In most cases shelf life is not readily apparent on labeling. Common sense, age factor and proper storage of the product are important.  You may be using the correct chemical but one that has lost its effectiveness.  

I checked with customer reps from Bayer, Ortho, Banner Maxx and others. They don’t have a clue as to proper shelf life of their products. In some instances I was promised a call back or e-mail from a “knowledgeable person”; I never received a single follow up!! 


30. What roses would you recommend to a beginner?

Answer: (Steve Rogers, CR)

In order to answer this question I need to determine the new rose grower’s intent.  Do they want to enhance their landscape?  Do they want to add roses for color all season long in a perennial garden?  Do they want to grow them in pots on the patio?  What color do they want?  How much room do they have?  And of course is there at least 6 hours of sunlight where they want to plant them?  I would also encourage the new rose grower to purchase their new plants from a good local nursery in a 2-3 gallon pot, and to follow the planting instructions provided.  Good local nurseries tend to have a selection of rose varieties that do well in the local area, and can be a good resource for selecting a rose to meet their need.  Lastly, I would suggest that they limit the number of roses they initially plant to learn the care requirements of the different varieties.

Now, here are some recommendations.  In the landscape I recommend the original shrub rose "Knockout" to anyone who wants a standalone, focal point, dark pink rose.  For someone desiring a yellow rose I would recommend the floribunda "Julia Child".  If one wants to try a classic red hybrid tea I would recommend "Olympiad", "Veterans Honor" or "Fire Fighter".  As a final recommendation I would suggest a miniature rose like "Behold” or a miniflora like "Butter Cream" for growing in a pot on the deck or planted in the garden.  I would caution however that the hybrid tea, miniature and miniflora varieties require a bit more care than do the shrub and floribunda recommendations.  I would also caution to pay close attention to the size of the mature plants when purchasing.  You want to ensure that the plant will have all the room it needs to give you the results you are looking for.  Lastly, I would encourage the new rose grower to visit local rose gardens June thru September to see many varieties in full bloom to help them in making their selections.       


29. Question: How often should I water them? How much?

Answer: (Judy Paniccia, CR)
Roses like a lot of water, but there also needs to be good drainage in the soil. Water thoroughly each time 2-3 gallons per bush depending on the size. On hot, summer days roses need to be watered every 2-3 days. Quick summer rain showers will cool off your roses, but they also need to be watered deeply.

Water thoroughly before and after fertilizing. Watering in the late evening will keep the leaves wet and with a humid night will encourage disease. It is best to water early in the morning so that the foliage has time to dry completely.

28. Question: What is eating my roses?

Answer: (Carol Ann Rogers, CR)
This is a question that has answers ranging from microscopic insects to deer. It is important for the gardener to be observant in order to discover what the problem is, and we can divide the question into two categories; mammals and insects. It is also important to ascertain what the degree of damage is to the extent of defenses you are willing to introduce into your gardening regimen. An example is that rabbits love to dine on your roses in the early morning and evening, however, very young bunnies will enjoy your plants at any given time during the day as will woodchucks. These animals eat very cleanly using their sharp teeth as pruners! We find chicken wire is quite successful in keeping these animals at bay rather than applying and reapplying various repellants. Deer pose a huge problem to some and require deterrents ranging from home remedies to larger projects including installing high fences around the property. On the other end of the size spectrum, voles can devastate a garden particularly in the winter when they feast on root systems. Garden centers can assist with "vole control" remedies.
There are many insect pests that attack particular parts of the rose bush. Some insects prefer leaves like the daytime feeding Japanese and associated beetles who can skeletonize foliage and devour blooms in no time. Treat the lawn for grubs, remove the beetles by hand and do not use a "Bag a Bug" which attracts beetles to your yard. Other leaf eaters include leaf cutting bees who chew semi circles out of the leaves and use them for their nests, grasshoppers who remove irregular sections of leaves and hot, dry weather spider mites living beneath the leaves who can defoliate a garden quickly. A silvery sheen on lower leaves is a clue there are mites, and they can be seen with a magnifier. With a slight infestation, frequent spraying of water on the undersides of the foliage is the first line of defense. Tiny thrips love light colored blooms and hide within the buds tearing the petals with their rasping mouth parts. Microscopic midge damages new growth and buds so there will be no flowers. The burnt looking tips of new growth is a tell tale sign there is midge in the garden. Cane borers are wasps who prey on aphids and bore holes into freshly cut canes to build their nests in. Covering freshly cut canes with Elmer's glue can be helpful. To combat the myriad challenges the rosarian faces, I recommend the Integrated Pest Management system, meaning when a problem is discovered, use the least toxic method to remedy the situation and work up to stronger methods if the results are not satisfactory. An example is repeatedly using a stream of water to rid buds and canes of aphids rather than a more toxic systemic insecticide that may be the demise of beneficial insects . If your local American Rose Society Consulting Rosarian (see list of CRs elsewhere in this website) cannot identify a particular problem, the scientists at a Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station should be able to pinpoint what the offending animal or insect is and what the remedy should be. For insect questions, I suggest contacting Gale Ridge at the New Haven office. A photograph of the roses in question can be emailed to Gale.Ridge@CT.gov, or petals and leaves can be placed in plastic baggies and mailed to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, 123 Huntington Street, PO Box 1106, New Haven, CT 06504-1106. In the Hartford area, a specimen can be looked at by the experts in the Windsor office which is located at 153 Cook Hill Road.

27. Question: What is the difference between a bare root rose and a potted rose bush and are they planted differently?

Answer: (Mike Fuss, CR)
Bare root and potted roses have some similarities and major differences and they are planted differently.

The potted rose is easier to plant and is more likely to provide success for the novice rose grower. The best roses are found at a local nursery and they will be in leaf and most likely in bud and possibly in bloom. The best time to buy a rose is late April through June.
When the rose is ready for planting, you should notice that the bud union is several inches above the level of the soil in the pot. This bud union should be planted two inches below ground level in the garden. So dig a hole about twice the diameter of the pot and deep enough so that the bud union is two inches below ground level. Remove the rose from the pot and place it in the hole. Then you can backfill the hole with a mixture of soil and compost. Water the rose well. Do not fertilize the rose until it has bloomed.

Now the potted rose that was just planted was once a bare root rose.The garden center owner or his supplier potted it up and started it growing so that you have a growing rose to plant.
A bare root rose is obtained by mail order from a reputable nursery. In our area the optimum time to receive a bare root rose is the beginning of April. When the rose arrives, remove it from the box and packing material and place it in a five gallon pail of water so that all its roots are submerged. The rose should be in the water for at least 24 hours. It can remain longer, but after three days change the water. Bring the pail out to the garden and dig a hole deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the roots. Make sure that the bud union will be two inches below ground level. You will notice that the roots have a cone shape. Make a cone of soil/compost mixture in the bottom of the hole so that the roots fit on it then backfill the hole half way with the soil mixture. Fill the hole with water and wait for it to drain away. Then fill the hole completely and water again. Once that has drained, mound the canes up completely with the soil mixture. After about two weeks, carefully remove a little soil to see if growth has started. If it has, gently remove the rest of the soil and water the plant well.

The reason for this extra work is that a bare root plant is dug from the field in November and stored in cool, dark, moist conditions until it is shipped. So the plant is in a dormant state and the canes need to be protected from drying out until the roots start working again and can bring water to the canes.

26. Can you suggest roses that have a pleasant fragrance?

Answer: (Wally Parsons, CR)
In the beginning of the ARS handbook for selecting roses, there is a list of the "Fragrance Medal Winners". (Note: this answer stays current with new introductions).

25. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!
I'm seriously about to give up on my roses. For about three years, I had beautiful roses, gorgeous enough to stop traffic, right through to October. I have about fifteen bushes. But three years ago (so the garden is about six years old), something went horribly wrong - the best I can figure is I over fertilized, and I ended up with the small blooms, exuberant leaf growth and lack of buds described by others, as well. I stopped fertilizing and now have gone back to just fertilizing lightly using Bloom Booster - but still no buds! The bushes themselves look okay (considering the terrible, rainy summer we're having), but it's all green out there, not a flower to be seen. I am so discouraged. Any advice before I shovel prune the lot?
A: Linda, please shun despair! Although your neighborhood is safer for traffic, you have hope!
This sounds very much like a midge problem. Good looking foliage but no blooms (blind shoot). It does not sound like too much fertilizer, although from reports I have heard, Conn. and the entire Northeast has had so much rain this year, that over-fertilization has probably self-corrected by dilution, by now.
Check very carefully for the midge telltale of small brunt-looking tips of canes. If you really believe there is a soil/nutrient issue, send off a soil sample to be analyzed. But after several good years, and good foliage this year, this is likely OK. If you have had a lot of leaf loss due to disease (blackspot, downey mildew) then this could set the plants back quite a bit. And the rain and resultant loss of sun (and photosynthesis) has not been kind this year. Send off the soil sample, examine Closely for midge and go from there.

24. Dear Dr. Rose, Dr. Rose!!
I noticed that my full grown Knock Out Rose has fallen over and has very little roots. I do see a tunnel leading to my rose. But I can not tell where the tunnel goes from there. I have about 200 roses. What should I do now with the bed and with this rose.? How do I check the other roses? Do I grab them by the bud union and try to pull them up or should I just wait to see how many are affected in the spring? Should I do something special before I replant in the same hole? What about Milky Spore on top of landscape fabric? It is Valentines day and all I can think about is stumping the critters little heart out!
Member of CT Rose Society
A: It sounds like you may have been attacked by voles. These are similar to moles, and sometimes live in same tunnels, but moles eat grubs and the like, voles eat vegetation (and in the case of roses often gnaw the stem just below ground level. This can eat clear through, similar to beaver with big trees. The evidence is just as you describe- a stick with no roots attached. You might be lucky with an own-root rose, and perhaps a vigorous type rose can recover- but sorely set back. Budded roses will, at best, revert to rootstock like Dr. Huey.
Most recommend use of Moletox to poison the voles. This is best done in the fall underneath hilling material such as mulch and leaves (where it is warm and inviting for voles). Moletox should be placed in a foot-long length of 1" plastic pipe to keep domestic animals from being endangered. You may use in the tunnels, in accordance with directions on the packaging.
Planting in same hole is not so much the issue, but you do need to get rid of the critters. (as an aside, it is a good practice to not use the same soil from the old rose in the new hole).
Milky Spore should be of no use for a vole problem. It may help with Japanese Beetle grubs (and thus moles), but CT is too far north/cold for Milky Spore to be as helpful as in warmer regions.

Hope your next Valentine's Day is more pleasant and less tense!


23. Dr. Rose, Dr. Rose!!!
Two R. mutifloras have established themselves in the woods at the edge of our lawn. 99% of our cultivated rose bushes are growing about 1/2 acre away from them. Do we have a possible issue of Rose Rosette Disease (RRD) in so far as this disease seems to mainly attack wild roses? At this time there is no evidence of RRD and the flowers provide a nice delicate focal point in the landscape. Even though there is no evidence of RRD at this time, do you suggest removing them anyway as a possible source?

A; Not a problem in your area (Northeast) yet.

Use energy toward better endeavors than trying to conquer multiflora. It is not a RRD threat, but it may eat your house, and Chicago, if left completely Wild.

22. Dr. Rose, Dr. Rose!!!
It's common knowledge that as soon as a shipment of bareroot roses is received
from the nursery the package should be opened and the bushes soaked in H2O for several hours prior to planting. One of my Canadian nurseries has stated that such should occur NO MORE THAN 8 HOURS. In the past, I've had bareroots in H2O up to 3-5 days (with frequent changes of H2O). Which is better/correct?

A: The bareroots have been in cold storage (just like you get them) for months.
If you receive them in March, or when it is Really cold outside, keep 'em in water (with a capful of Clorox to thwart bacteria) for days or weeks, until it is routinely above freezing outside at night. The ones I get in March are held in the dark basement in a bucket of water until mid April, usually. The wicked cold is far worse than water. Changing the water is a good idea if you keep them for a while. Plant too early and the new leaflets just shrivel and die, and the stored energy in the plant roots is lost forever...
Note: if the plants start to leaf out (not a dark location, or warm location for your bucket), then you may want to plant before that goes too far.


21. Dr. Rose, Dr. Rose!!
Recently I've read about mulching with a thick pad of wet newspaper covered with chipped bark. Wouldn't the pad of newspaper prevent "breathing" (i.e. the need for a porous mulch)? If the PAD is not a good idea, what about shredded wet newspapers covered with shredded bark? What about all the documents, bills, etc. that we shred in our home offices? If a good idea, would the colored ink in some of the papers be detrimental?

A: Did you read this in the newspaper??? You are very right: porous good, PAD bad. Let the water through. The mis-leaders that recommended thick pad of newspaper were Out to Kill Weeds, and everything. Rose mulching folk have several goals, but killing the rose is not one of them. Discouraging weeds, maintaining the moisture in the soil (especially in the summer), and make-pretty are good goals. Improving the soil when the mulch breaks down is an additional bene. So ... organic stuff is the way to go. Finely shredded newspaper (I can recommend several worthy of fine shredding, even before reading...) can work ok, but if using newspaper alone, even shredded, you will still end up with a mat of water resistant stuff after a couple of rains. And it is not tidy. So, if used to help the roses, mix with other organic matter. If doing this to wipe out your previous identity and Erase The Paper Trail, you will probably want to mix with other organic matter, as well.

20. Dr. Rose, Dr. Rose!!
Is it true that a 'little' Downy Mildew left untreated (treatment meaning sprayed not just pruned off) in the spring will return with a vengeance (under the right conditions) at the end of the season?

A: A little Downey Mildew goes a long way. But properly treated (when chemicals that Does Downey), you should not have to chop off the canes (in spring). If you know where there was an outbreak in your garden last year, you should prune aggressively before those plants leaf out in the Spring. IF you have ever had Downey, please ensure you have a good spray material on hand, just in case. Since not all garden centers carry the Good Stuff, you don't want to have to rely on mail order to get it. Downey gets nasty too quickly.

Dr. Rose,

Dr. Rose! I'm getting bizarrely small blooms on my roses (these are 3-4 year old bushes). Where the blooms should be 4"-5" across, they're about an inch to an inch and a half. Or instead of getting a nice tea rose form, I'm getting single or double petals. I'm spraying for bugs, fertilizing, deadheading, and I adjusted the soil according to the soil test I had done... The foliage looks fine. What the heck is going on? I've noticed these weensie flowers on Memorial Day, Opening Night, Chihuly and Sentimental, while others seem to be unaffected. Also, I'm not getting many blooms during the summer, after a spectacular first bloom in early June. Is this normal? Is there anything else I can do to encourage summer blooming?
Thank you -

It sounds like you have a classic case of over-fertilization, specifically, way too much Nitrogen. This will tend to cause all the symptoms you mentioned, and can cause small blooms (often distorted), but large green leaves. In addition, the next extreme is that stems become bean-stalks, but with small and deformed new leaflets at the tops of the stems. And at that stage you may see "vegetative centers" in blooms. These are blooms that have a green growth in the center of the bloom- usually seen on blooms with many petals in the open bloom stage (like Austin English roses). Your only two recourses are to wait, and dilute. Time will solve the problem- but if you used granular fertilizer it may take several weeks. Removing granular that is still on the soil surface is time-consuming, but helpful. If the problem was caused by liquid fertilizer, that is more transient and may be assisted by Lots of plain watering.

I'd take a soil sample and take/send to the Agricultural Experiment Station (New Haven or Windsor), to confirm. You should not have to fertilize again this summer.

18. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
Q: I have read that newly-planted bare root roses should be covered with soil for the first couple of weeks. WHY?

A: This is usually very important. And most CR's will preach it strongly, especially when the weather is Hot after the new rose is planted. And in some cases (Northeast in late March 2007, when the weather is abnormally DRY [9% humidity in Hartford, I understand}. The underlying reason is that new bare root roses have no established feeder-root system. Those big roots you see are like arteries and veins, but they are useless without capillaries (those tiny, fragile feeder-roots). The plant cannot properly take up either nutrients or adequate water until they grow in and become nestled in the soil properly (that is why you water newly planted roses so thoroughly- to get the soil next to the roots, instead of air). Since there is little water going up the stems from the roots, and since there is still some escape of water from the stem to the atmosphere (aggravated by hot, dry conditions), you want to keep damp soil (or a paper bag) around the stems for a while. When the stems produce leaflets, this is a sign that some feeder roots are established... you can remove the covering (but still best to keep direct sun and hot/dry conditions at bay for a bit longer. This is an important planting step. Those who have planted roses very successfully when ignoring this step have been lucky, not skillful.

17. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
Q: I have read about the Bayer Advanced Garden Product called All-in One, 3-in-1, 2-in-1, and others. I'm confused. Are these products as complete as they say? Which does what?

Ans: Yes, the Bayer line of products has quite confusing labels. This is even worse when you go to the Garden Store to purchase and some of the products are not on the shelves for direct comparison. The store literature is not always available, as well. Many rose societies have reported very good results with these products. In general they are more 'modern' (aka Advanced) than some of the legacy products by Ortho/Scotts. You should go to the Bayer website for a detailed comparison. Specifically: http://www.bayeradvanced.com/productFamily/rose-and-flower-care.html.

Some overview and personal pointers/thoughts on these products:
The liquid concentrate, Disease Control for Roses, Flowers & Shrubs, mixes with water and is a systemic spray for the leaves. It has received high marks from rosarians who have used it.
2-in-1 Systemic Rose and Flower Care is a granular product that is sprinkled on the ground around the bush. It fertilizes and systemically treats for insects, and mites. It does NOT treat for diseases. Some rosarians say that at the recommended dose the fertilization rate is too low to be used alone, especially in the south where the plants stay large longer. In addition, it treats for insects in advance of infestation (although systemically, not being sprayed). Most recommend dealing with bugs only when needed. You still need another product (see above) for disease.
3-in-1 Insect, Disease and Mites- note this is not a continuation beyond 2-in-1, it is DIFFERENT. It is a spray (concentrate to mix with water of ready to use in spray bottles for small gardens). It does Not fertilize, as does 2-in-1. This may be what you need to treat for aphids, then caterpillars, then Japanese beetles all the while treating for disease. You apply fertilizer separately, but this is often preferred by rosarians (where a small mixed flower bed may be looking for an easier solution, without any spraying (2-in-1 and live with disease on perennials).
ALL-in-ONE is fertilizer (but maybe not enough, alone), disease and insect killer. All systemic. It is a liquid concentrate that is mixed with water and applied to the base of the plant (no spraying). Works some, and is very easy, but the tradeoff is that it is not AS effective as the specialized products, in some rosarian's opinions). HOWEVER, not everyone wants to live in the garden with complex schedules of treatments and sprays. And! many of the modern rose shrubs, floribundas (and to an extent other newer roses) are more disease resistant than in the past (due to smart hybridizers) and a more moderate plant treatment regime can be successful! Many new rosarians in the South are leaning to less demanding roses and less work to all for more fun!!! Probably this is true in New England as well.

This will help clarify your quest for the Perfect Rose treatment, as available from Bayer. My discussion is brief, be sure to go to the Bayer website for more details.

Everything said above is based on a 'relatively' small garden- say less than 25 plants. If you have a large garden, the Bayer products can be very expensive. If you have more than 50 roses or so, then very concentrated products such as Compass and Banner Maxx (disease) and Merit (TM) (insect control) make much more financial sense. My buddy, Robbie Tucker, does the math nicely about once per year in his Infomercial advertisement in The American Rose magazine. The products I just listed come in rather large containers, and so they can make a double-lifetime supply for a small garden- thus are economical for big gardens.

16. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
We are members of the CT Rose Society although as yet we have not been able to attend any meetings.

We are new to CT and moved a number of roses (about 15) in larger planters up from Florida in the spring of this year. They recovered from the trip and did well over the summer. We plan to leave these roses in their planters and would like to over-winter them in our garage. It's a large unheated garage which faces north and it has an insulated garage door. Somewhere I read that others had done this for roses in planters and it worked out okay if the planters are watered once a month. We plan to put them into the garage about mid-November and take them out about mid-April when we would resume our regular feeding and anti-fugal treatments.
Ans: Good Job!! those that stayed in the south don't have quite the problem that y'all who moved North do- nasty winters. Your plan is sound, assuming that the pots you are using are really large. The goal is not to prevent freezing, it is to significantly reduce the freeze/thaw cycles (in frequency, but particularly magnitude) and to prevent dehydration caused by wind. The unheated garage does both. From a medical point of view, the temperature swings and dehydration are similar to the nasty effects of frostbite on humans. With people, however, the situation is much more complicated with blood circulation. For roses, the internal cells build up the equivalent of antifreeze slooowly as winter sets in, so as to prepare the plant for the winter struggle. Wildly cycling temperatures give mixed signals to the plant. Result: not good.
Do provide some water periodically, but this is just to reduce dehydration, not promote growth. No need to water a block of ice-bound roots. And no overly warm water, please. And don't be in a hurry to bring the pots out in March for the first warm days in 'spring'.


15. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
When do I spray for Japanese beetles, and with what?

Ans: Spray the roses for insect pests when the pests are seen in the garden. For Japanese Beetles this is the very beginning of July in Connecticut. This is “treating the symptom” medicine, rather than preventive (inoculation) since treating the symptom is the way the insecticides generally work. JB’s need a much more robust medication than do soft-bodied aphids, for example. A product that contains Merit is likely the best wager. Another product is called “Eight” (commercialized as ‘better than Sevin’). The Ortho products seem to be much less effective. Picking them off by hand IS effective, if you have the time.
For those that have a clear distaste for these critters, and are of the ilk to plan well ahead, look into robust grub worm control [granules- containing Merit (best)] that will kill the beetles in the grub stage for next year (and help the grass from grub eating as well). Get some sacks of the granules, read the instructions on the label carefully, and apply during the summer months.

14. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
How much fertilizer should I use on my roses???

A- The quick answer is about a cup of 10-10-10 for each bush monthly in the beginnings of May, June, July and August. But…

This kind of like “every human should take a multivitamin every day”. And does not take into account what size human. Infants take the same as adults? Of course not. So the generic advice is for big, adult bushes (HT and big Fl). Mini’s would get about half of this ‘on average’.

A BETTER answer is: depends on what the soil needs to have a balanced meal for the plants. You can tell this Only if you have done a soil analysis. Although Nitrogen tends to deplete and need replacing, that is not true of all soil constituents. Salts and potassium (the K in the N-K-P of fertilizer) can particularly build up over time, so you may need 10-4-10 to counteract a potentially toxic condition. And pH, don’t get me started on pH. Soil testing will tell if you have an issue. And if you have been gardening for a while in CT and have not added lime, you probably DO have an issue.

So add what your soil needs based on good data from the soil test. And feed in proportion to the size of the plant.

13. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
Should I add Epsom Salts to the fertilizer to encourage basal shoot development?

A- Depends, of course. This is providing magnesium, that seems to encourage good basal shoot development. That magnesium is necessary in the soil is true. However, in CT, our soil is almost always naturally endowed with sufficient Mg. A bit more will not hurt. A lot more, especially if spread at the same time as granular fertilizer, could damage tender feeder roots if not watered in VERY well.

12. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
I have heard of a new product that is some kind of natural stimulant for plants to resist disease. What is it and where can it be provided?

A- Sounds like you are talking about Messenger, try this site for more information: http://www.edenbio.com (note- hyperlink is valid, you may need to copy and paste it on your browser.


11. Dr. Rose, Dr. Rose!:

Where do you prune a cluster rose? I feel guilty when I prune my floribundas about a foot down the bush to get to the first set of 5 leaves. I have to cut off a lot of healthy looking leaves to get that far down. Is it OK to just deadhead?
Griswold, CT
A- There are several reasons to prune down to a 5-leaf cluster of leaves. Biggest is to provide the 'average' rose the opportunity to grow a sufficiently strong stem to support the next flush of blooms. If you just deadhead you may well end up with thin stems and 'nodding' blooms the next go round.
That said, for a New Rose you may want to be less aggressive than the 5-leaflet guidance to allow more leaves to produce stronger plant and roots before the onset of the first winter. Emphasis on building a stronger plant, less emphasis on thick stems low on the plant.

10. Dr. Rose! Dr. Rose!:
What are the best roses for disease resistance?

A- Generally speaking, shrub roses excel in disease resistance; HT’s are much less resistant. Floribundas and miniatures in the middle. Take a look at the several articles and lists in your website [Rose Culture] for lists of particularly favored roses in the northeast.

9. Dr Rose,
My rose books says to plant about 3 to 4 foot on center. However, given the New England winter die back, I wonder if I can plant them closer. The Norwich and Elizabeth Park roses seem to be about 1 1/2 foot on center. I want to plant a broader, can you have too many in a bed?
A- Sounds like your book may be for much warmer climes. 3 ft. centers are nice, but usually 2 ft. will do in the NE for HTs. Known BIG HTs will do better with 3 ft. Floribundas and shrubs (when not intended to be a hedge) will do better at 3 ft or so. Too many in a bed, of for a hedge is not usually a problem, BUT: you will have to pay More attention to them since there is less air circulation which aggravates disease (consider the high incidence of staph infections and pneumonia for those during a hospital stay), and there is greater competition for Water! and nutrients. A park like EP looks much better with concentrated plants and blooms. They have to work somewhat harder at maintenance.

8. Dr. Rose: Can gypsum be used in lieu of lime?

Gypsum cannot be used instead of lime. Gypsum, also known as landplaster, is calcium sulfate. It is an economical source of calcium and sulfate but cannot be used as a liming material because it does not have the capability to neutralize soil acidity. In fact, applying gypsum to an acid soil (pH less than 5.5) can have adverse effects on certain plants by displacing soil aluminum, which is toxic to plant roots. Gypsum is frequently applied to provide supplemental calcium. But, there is no substitute for lime in neutralizing soil acidity.

7. Dr Rose, Dr Rose,
What are your thoughts on fall planting of Roses? Should I withhold all fertilizers in the planting hole if I do plant?
Jewett City
A: Fall planting:
Good for cost effectiveness- lots of sales at local nurseries. (Make sure you get good value, not just low price- a plant infested with Black Spot will lose ALL the leaves affected and will probably be stunted badly, or die, in the spring.
Of course, the only fall planting in New England is a potted plant to the ground. NO bare root should even be available from a reputable dealer. If you buy a good potted rose, consider nurturing it in the pot until it is nearly dormant (aka Thanksgiving in CT), then putting it in the hole. Dig the hole now if you want. You CAN plant the rose now, but it will take a 'setback' and late in the season (September), this may untimely. In any case you will nix any last bloom for the fall.
But to focus: NO Fertilizer (that contain Nitrogen) when planting this late in the season (Sept.). Be sure to plant (get out of the pot that will be surrounded by COLD) before significant freezes occur (frost is OK).

6. Dr. Rose-
Occasionally I find a partially broken stem. Can I bend it back and 'make it right'?

A: No.
The chances of success are very low, and the long term value of the stem low. Admittedly, I tend to Splint stems that have not fully snapped off, and if I know the break is fresh (i.e. I just broke it!!!!), but his is for scientific data/medical reasons, Not for either expectation or need for success. YOUR time is probably better spent elsewhere. The appendage will, at best, be maimed, should it survive.

5. Dr. Rose!!!!
What are the best nurseries for roses in the area?

A: You did not define "the Area". Your best bet would be to go to the Consulting Rosarians on your website and find one near you. Give them a personal inquiry. And then, the criteria for Best deserves focus. Best plants? Best value? Lowest cost (regardless of value)? Closest to my home? Best and Quality are two words used too liberally, in our mind.

4. Dr. Rose:
You had earlier recommended that a Soil Analysis be done. I Have so done, and the results are generally as expected (good soil, need to bring pH up with some lime, keep fertilizing,,,), but in several rose beds the results for Potassium and Calcium were "Excessive". The recommendation for other beds to apply 10-10-10 fertilizer in April and July. For the beds with the 'Excessive" amounts, there is no recommendation for April- but fertilize in July '06 with 10-10-10 (10 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft.). Would not an application of nitrogen before July be in order? Is there a 10-0-0 that would help in the spring???

A: Your question is and excellent one. I generally agree with you, but don't know of the fertilizers that may be very low in Calcium (not usually in fertilizers) and Potassium. Check with the dealers in your area. And: I will be out of country for a short while. If others would answer this (if you are knowledgeable) to the web-person then perhaps we can get a quicker grip on the pulse.

3. Dr. Rose!!:
I use Bonide Fung-onil RTU, Multi-purpose fungicide in the spray bottle. I spray every weekend or after a rain or watering. But I still get Black Spot. I have about 15 roses, but will surely add more next year - I should be up to 20. Is there a better product?
Thank you!

A: Fung-onil (Ready to Use) contains the same 'active ingredient' as Daconil 2787 and Bravo (chlorothalinol). I do not recommend that as the primary Black Spot preventive spray since I have found it much less effective than some other products, and it can damage leaves (phytotoxic) [very severely if used in higher concentration than prescribed {although not as bad an issue in the Ready to Use form}]. Double Delight is a particular bellwether and will show the effects most quickly. For a small garden consider Bayer Advanced line of products (available in many garden centers and Lowe's). Read up on the Internet before going to buy- there are several products for disease, insects, plus fertilizer... More effective for disease is Banner Maxx. It comes in pint bottles (available on the Internet from such places as www.Rosemania.com and www.PrimaryProducts.com). Initially expensive, but will last you for years, and is cost effective (and seems to work better) in the long run. Due to the tiny amount to be mixed with water, the mixing may be a challenge--- but you need spray only every 2 weeks, giving you time to get up for challenges such as that.
Some info on the Daconil version of chlorothalinol, as quoted from Bob Martin's website "www.roseshow.com" is below:

Daconil 2787 (29.6% chlorothalinol) - Broad spectrum fungicide for control of alternaria leaf spot, anthracnose, black spot, botrytis, powdery mildew and rust with some effect against downy mildew. Known to have phytotoxic effect on foliage. WARNING. Mix 5 teaspoons per 2 gallons.

2. Dr. Rose!!!
When is it time to protect my rose garden for the winter months?

A: About Thanksgiving weekend, when there have been several solid frosts, and the ground is beginning to freeze. Look ahead to the weather- if it will not allow the outdoor work that weekend (or you are out of town) then anytime after mid November will usually be fine. Remember: your goal is NOT to prevent freezing, it is to reduce the frequency and RATE of the freeze-thaw cycles.

1. Dr. Rose!!
As I'm poring over rose catalogs, I cannot help but notice how tidy and orderly their gardens are. Yes, I realize they're growing under ideal conditions and there's a staff of gardeners on hand, but my roses are like crazy, wild animals compared to these domestic beauties. One of mine shot up to about 7' and trimming it back was like cutting down a small sapling. Others seemed to be in a race to match it. And these are not varieties that are supposed to grow that tall (over-fertilizing aside, *ahem*). Would it be advisable to keep these critters cut back to about 4 feet, even if it's a taller variety? Will this affect the blooms? I always hate to trim back because it means cutting off some buds.
A: Too much nitrogen can cause this, but other causes are development of a climbing sport (rare), "blind shoots" which can grow very long, but don't flower (cause unknown, but happens with some varieties (Chicago Peace, e.g.)), and roses that really 'want' to be trained horizontally (like a climber) in order to provide more blossoms. Some tall HT's actually can grow so tall that you can't appreciate the blooms properly (e.g. Folklore). Your call, but I would advise that if the blooms suit you, let it grow as it wants. If you'd like stronger canes and more blooms, and if the winter does not create dieback, then consider pruning the height by 1/3 in April.
Don't worry about what the catalogs (photos from the South and California) show. Enjoy YOUR garden!







  Playboy rose photo